Foundation for Fun in Sobriety by Chris Swanberg

Chris Swanberg brings some of his experience, strength, and hope with an article about finding fun and satisfaction in recovery.

“Build that foundation. Give everything you have for the first year and you will have a life far beyond your wildest dreams.”

This was told to me over and over in the recovery home I was in. Of course, I did not believe what they were telling me. I did know that my life at that point wasn’t worth a thing. I told myself that if I couldn’t have fun in sobriety I didn’t want it. They kept saying though, “Put the program first and build that foundation.”

I realized, at first, that I didn’t have to want what they had. I just didn’t want to have what I had at the time. Which was nothing. When you are physically, mentally and spiritually unfit and in a lot of pain, you tend to find the willingness to accept the direction given to you. I was pretty mangled. Even though I had my doubts, I did what I was told. As it is said, “If you don’t like what you have after a year of sobriety, you can always get back what you have now.”

As you have read before in other writings from me, I started working the steps, helping others, reading the Big Book, going to meetings, calling my sponsor and basically just working the program. It’s not my program it’s not your program. It is “the program” that comes out of the Big Book. When you are physically, mentally and spiritually unfit and in a lot of pain, you tend to find the willingness to accept the direction given to you.

I learned that a foundation is really just putting the program first. As I put the program first things started to happen. I was smiling a lot. I was happy. I was acquiring a little bit of that peace of mind. After 6 months a guy in the house came up and asked me, “How can you be so happy in this crap?” I replied, “I stay out of the drama, mind my own business and work the program.”

I have been to some great concerts in sobriety by artists like Ozzy, Tom Petty, Deep Purple, Def Leppard, Creed. I’ve even been to the Russian Ballet, which I thought might not be my thing, but really enjoyed it. I have seen comedians galore in the comedy clubs. I go on nice vacations. I’ve been to ballgames and I enjoy friendships like I never have had before. All this with no obsession to drink or use thanks to the foundation I put down in the beginning of my sobriety.

True Fulfillment

I did not go for the instant gratification as doing something for that short moment of happiness. I wanted the real thing. The one that starts on the inside and works its way out from your heart. A long term joy of satisfaction. It all started because of the foundation I built from the beginning.
Don’t get me wrong, there are pits in life’s bowl of cherries. Bad moments do happen, but if I toss those pits instead of swallowing them and do what needs to be done, I don’t have bad days. You never know what’s around the corner and there may not be a tomorrow. So I am going to look at the positive and enjoy what I can today. I am happy with what I have as I pursue what I want, but all my needs have been met. Most of all I enjoy a good night sleep knowing I have done my best for that day.

Sometimes I just like a good laugh. I have that foundation built for fun.

- Chris Swanberg