It was one night in 1988 that Mark Lundholm realized that he was down and out. He was dangerously addicted to drugs and alcohol; no one would talk to him; his family cut their ties with him, and he was ready to end his life.
It must have been a moment of fate when he actually put a gun to his head. It was October 19, 1988, and he was ready to pull the trigger at 29 years of age. But when he went to pull back on the gun to finally bring his misery to an end, the gun jammed! His first thought: I suck at everything I do!
That night he admitted himself into a psychiatric detox center and soon after that a halfway house. Perhaps it was really Mark’s incompetency or maybe it was destiny because soon after that his life changed. Sixty-two days into his recovery, still at the halfway house, he saw a flier inviting comedians and other performers to join a troupe and tour prisons, shelters, and treatment centers.
The audition was a big hit. Mark did a five minute skit on smoking cocaine and life at halfway house and he was soon a part of the crew. The first show was at the San Quentin State Prison. Although he believes that his performing was terrible, he was hooked on performing and making light of the darkness of addiction and sober living.
When the troupe broke up a year later, Mark continued on his own. Today, he has toured 50 states and 10 foreign countries. World-renowned musicians, political leaders, CEO’s of fortune 500 companies, and convicted felons have heard Mark’s comedy on addiction. Mark has toured the world stage.
He’s also toured the Hollywood stage. He’s appeared on Comedy Central, Showtime, A&E, CBS, and NBC. He also wrote and performed his own one-man show off-Broadway in New York City reaching critical acclaim. But his fun and funny path to make light of addiction didn’t end there. He also created a DVD series titled, ‘Humor in Treatment’ as well as a Recovery Board Game.
Perhaps it’s the mascot in him! Research shows that typical patterns and roles in a family of addiction will develop over the years. These are patterns that have been observed by clinicians time and time again. These are the addict, the hero, the scapegoat, the lost child, the mascot, and the caretaker. The mascot is often the youngest of the family who tries to get everyone to laugh. He or she is the jokester, unconsciously attempting to make light of the dysfunction in the home. The Mascot might perpetually avoid problems, even in adulthood, and eventually turn to alcohol or drugs as a continued way to avoid problems.
Whether this is true of Mark’s history or not, it shows how he has used addiction and the path to sober living in his favor. His story is a reminder that our defects can be our assets; our faults can be our greatest resources. As a comedian, Mark has been able to “fine-tune my defects into marketable skills,” he says, and to function as both doctor and patient – helping others as he helps himself. “Humor in its essence is an invitation to trust,” he continues. “At its core, it’s a shame remover and a threat lessener. It takes away some of the stigma. I found that if we laugh at what we are afraid of, we don’t have to go back to it.”
There are many more laughs to be had with Mark. He’s still touring, sharing, and showing others the way to sober help in a light-hearted way. He’s a revolutionary entertainer for the world of recovery and finding sober living.
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