Travelling Texts – Sobriety in Small Doses

Is texting short messages a service?


It took me quite some years of going to meetings before I understood that:

1. I am an alcoholic
2. that I could not stay sober through my own will and resources.

However, one day, I was lucky enough to see that there was no way out of my misery other than to admit that I was powerless over alcohol. I had known long before, that my life had become unmanageable but I never put it in context with my drinking.

For me capitulation was a great relief. I was able to hand over my life to AA and a higher power and was no longer responsible for my sobriety. I was able to let God into my life and have Him sort it out for me – I tried often enough to stay sober and never managed. Strangely enough, only then was I able to listen to what I’ve heard in the meetings, find a sponsor and let God and my AA friends help me: one day at a time.

The first months of my sobriety I was unemployed, which gave me a chance to do 90 meetings in 90 days. Everything seemed to be different. Even though I had attended regular AA meetings for some time already and had been in Al-Anon for some years, the program appeared completely new to me. I had to start all over again.

I found a new job and thought that I couldn’t go to meetings every day or I wouldn’t get enough rest. I soon realized that the opposite was true. I never learned to relax without a drink, so every day that I didn’t go to a meeting after work, I went to bed much too late, I couldn’t sleep, I was restless and irritated. So I changed my habit and started my personal 24 h with a meeting in the evening. After the meeting, I went home, hat a nice cup of tea or hot chocolate, went to bed early, slept well, got up, did my morning prayers and readings, and had a proper breakfast. After that I was able to do my daily work with manageable fears and every day I had a new idea on how to better manage my life. After work, I had dinner on the way to my meeting and the next 24 h started.

The first years in my sobriety, I depended a lot on the love and understanding I felt in the meetings. Especially when I visited my family, I was over-sensitive and thankfully got into the habit of always attending meetings when visiting family. I also had many business trips and the first thing I did, when planning a trip, was to find the next meeting at my destination. This got me into the habit of overcoming the fear of entering a new place by just doing it, wherever I went.

I remember my colleague, who travelled with me occasionally, asking me to come out for a beer after work. I responded that I had plans to meet “friends” that night. After he’d gotten this answer for the third time (in different places) he said, “You seem to have friends everywhere!” and I answered “Yes,” and smiled.

I still love the habit of going to meetings in different places. It gives me the feeling of being at home and safe no matter where I am. It also made it possible, after years of being sober, to work on a project in another town for two years and to find a second home there. It helped me when I wanted to do another step in my career and had to move to another city and later even into another country. AA was my home wherever I was. It was my safe place to make sure that I got the right support to face every challenge in life without taking a drink. It helped me to help other alcoholics, and by doing so, to build relationships and be part of the community. Wherever I was, I was never alone. My higher power and the program were always with me.

Two years ago, in between jobs, I had the wonderful opportunity to take my family for a long holiday to New Zealand. And, of course, I tried to get to a meeting. It was not that easy, as we stayed in many small towns that sometimes had one meeting a week and sometimes no meeting at all. Often the meeting days didn’t fit our itinerary. But I did end up finding a meeting we were able to go to. It was a small meeting: an old timer, a visitor from another city, relatively new in the program, and her cousin, a newcomer.

This wonderful lady told me that she was part of a text chain where she got a text with an AA quote from her sponsor every day. She told me that if I wanted she could forward it to me, too. This was wonderful! I was at the other end of the world, and there I was – connected with AA every day. Even when there was no meeting around. When we came to Christchurch, I called my new friend and we met at a meeting that I would not have found without her help. It was a big book study with a special format. One paragraph was read and then the chair asked specific questions to deep-dive into the reading. It was a very intense meeting which I appreciated very much.

After coming back to Germany, I still received the daily messages from my new friend in New Zealand and started to forward them to my sponsees and close friends in the program. When my husband and some other friends complained that they couldn’t benefit as their English was not good enough, I started to translate the daily messages before forwarding them. This sometimes really meant an intense examination of the subject before I was able to put it into proper German. Unfortunately, there came the day when my source ran dry and no more messages came. I really missed these daily inspirations. So after a while, I googled around searching for AA quotes and found a new source for short quotes from the literature and Grapevine.

Ever since then, I try to my best to copy those quotes, translate them and send them to my AA friends, hoping they will do as I do and pass them on. It’s wonderful, that sometimes when I don’t have time or means to do this little service, some of my friends ask whether I am okay and let me know that they miss the daily little messages. This, in return, helps me to feel worthwhile, loved and needed. It is as it always in AA – I can only keep it, if I pass it on.

So, even though, I’ve been a bit lazy recently and am far behind with quotes and translations, I try to continue the service as well as I can, hoping that friends openly let me know when they want me to stop sending or whether they appreciate these messages every once in a while. For me, it is very valuable and keeps me in contact with the program wherever I am.

My love is with all of you. Keep coming back. Thanks Casey for asking me to write this down.

Ulrike, Alcoholic, Remagen, Düsseldorf, Berlin


PS If you want your number added to this text service, 
you are welcome to send this request to 
Your number and message will be passed along to Ulrike.