Mark Rickert’s parents divorced when he was three, and his mother abandoned him and his siblings regularly. This opened the doorway to drug and alcohol abuse that would lead repeatedly to disaster and almost suicide.
Today Mark is a prosperous real estate broker and is launching a podcast called Soaring in Sobriety. His show is about how to move past the wreckage of our past to become the person we knew we were always capable of becoming.
CLEAN DATE: AUG 11, 2001
Listen to his harrowing story from lying on the street to soaring in sobriety!
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Here are a few highlights from our interview. To get the full story please join us on the Podcast now!
Mark’s Recovery Routine
Mark Rickert owns a real estate company with his wife. They are Keller Williams Brokers in Albuquerque and help people get rich. In real estate.
When Mark gets up at five or six in the morning, his first thought is gratitude. His wife brings up coffee and he does a bit of reading. He‘s always listening to a podcast, especially SHAIR. He also listens to real-estate and business show. After that, he’s ready to tackle the world.
Mark attends a meeting or two a week. It seems to be enough at this phase in his life. He maintains his spiritual condition by praying. Mark says he has a unique relationship with his higher power. Some days it’s great, and some days it’s not.
Throughout the day always practice gratitude and says thank you for all his blessings. Sometimes he feels real spiritual, when he doesn’t, he must go to more meetings and do more reading. But through the fellowship of AA and NA, one day at a time, Mark says he hasn’t found it necessary to drink or drug for “5,815 days, or 15.92 years.”
The First Time
Mark admits that he doesn’t remember a lot things vividly in his life, but he remembers the first times he got intoxicated. Once he smoked some weed and came to class high. When the teacher asked where he was, he said “who cares.” The whole class roared with laughter and he liked the feeling of that.
His first drink was at the age of 9, when he spied a bottle of whiskey on the counter at his aunt’s house. He drank until he blacked out and got sick all over the place. He loved it!
The Battle – Wreckage, Rock Bottom, and Recovery
Mark was sent to juvenile hall at that age. He was always in trouble, misbehaving, and drinking. It made him feel good. He was moved to a children’s’ home when he was ten where there were other substances too.
His drinking got worse through his teenage years. He eventually went to a foster home. It was during the 70s, and his foster parents were pretty loose. They let him smoke and drink. He went to parties. He was kind of guy who would try anything. He’d take whatever was handed to him and ask afterward, “what was that?”
I didn’t think I had a problem. I was “just a party guy.”
In 9th grade, things took a dark turn. His mom died of cancer. She was 36. When she was diagnosed, they gave her a year to live, but she only lasted 2 weeks more. She abandoned him once as a mother, now she abandoned him completely in death. He thought, “Life sucks. Fuck this,” and tried to commit suicide at 15 years old.
His foster parents had a new baby and they were afraid. They wanted him out and got in touch with the state. Mark found himself at a fork in the road. He had not seen much of his dad since he was three-years-old, but he was able to go Florida to live with him and make a fresh start.
For the first time, no one knew him. He went from being the party guy, to wanting to do well in school. He worked hard and got into sports. Little did he know, his dad wanted to get rid of him and send him to boarding school.
This was not necessarily a bad thing. Mark went to the school he did excel, and for the first time he felt good about himself. When senior year comes, he signs up for the Navy, but before he graduated, he brought booze to school and got busted. It didn’t seem like a big deal, but it was. The awards and opportunities he earned while he was doing well were taken away, and this would begin the pattern of wreckage that would rip his life apart again and again.
After he graduated and started in the Navy, things got crazy. When he was on a ship he was okay, but when he was in port, he drank like crazy. He was in danger of dereliction of duty, but guys liked him and kept him out of trouble. He completed his service and was honorably discharged, only to have landed in San Francisco to begin his career as a coke dealer.
There’s something about selling drugs that makes you the man.
When his dealer got busted and his friends were raided, it was a wakeup call. He had been snorting all his profits anyway. He quit coke, but kept drinking. This would continue into the 90s when he moved to Florida to work with his dad at his real estate development company.
He was married with two babies and still a high-functioning person, but behind the scenes, his drinking was out of control. He started using coke again. The situation deteriorated, and he reached a second time where he found himself contemplating suicide. He actually had the shotgun in his hand. But all he could think about were his kids, his legacy, and the blood they would see on the wall. So, he stopped and checked himself into a mental health facility for treatment.
Mark was introduced to AA 1993, but it took him to 2001 to finally get clean. During his ups and downs, he remembers how he used to think that the bums were the bums. They were worthless losers lying on the street. Then one night he was so drunk that he couldn’t make it home. He wandered downtown, and recognized where he was, at the studio where his daughter took her ballet lessons. At three in the morning, he dropped to the ground in front of her studio. As he laid there in a stupor, he looked down the street and said to himself, “there are the bums.” And then in that moment it dawned on him that he was one of them, he was a bum.
But Mark was always a successful bum. He always had money and that was an enabler. How he wasn’t found out, he has no idea. At this point was also into crystal meth and was going downhill fast. When his wife and kids went on a trip to Europe, he shut of the house, got all his drugs and alcohol and went at it. He began to hallucinate and thought cops and helicopters were after him. Bugs were crawling in his hair. He was so depressed. He looked at his reflection in the window and spit on it. “You’re a fucking loser,” he told himself. Then he went to garage, started car, and prepared to end his life. He sat there waiting.
I just couldn’t die fast enough.
But it was a three-car garage and it didn’t fill up fast enough. He thought that he was such a failure, he couldn’t even die. Shortly after these thoughts, he believes his higher power stepped in. His kids came back to mind. Thank goodness, it didn’t work.
He finally got serious about sobriety. He just knew. He was done.
What kept him from getting and staying clean?
He didn’t’ think he had a problem. His denial was so strong it wouldn’t allow him to see what was going on and see the damage he was causing other people and his family. “I’m just a party guy,” he thought. He accepted the lie.
When you had your aha moment, when you accepted you were powerless?
Mark hated his 1st sponsor. He was a douchebag. He told him all these clichés. Mark remembers most him saying, “this program is going to fuck up your drinking for the rest of your life.” What did that mean? Mark kept relapsing again and again. He had to start over in AA again and again, until he started doing what people said. Have faith. The magic will happen.
Favorite book from early recovery
The Big Book. He needs a spiritual fill up; he leaks.
Best suggestion ever received
Mark believes the best suggestion he ever received overall was to start his own business. It helped him get out of his comfort zone. Of course, he doesn’t recommend doing this in early sobriety.
You’re in charge of your destiny.
In recovery, the best suggestion he received was from his sister who told him he need to go to rehab. She never confronted him through his life, but when she finally did, it changed his life.
Suggestion to newcomer
Don’t put your toes in the water. Jump all in.
All addicts have a common trait: starting things and not finishing them. Recovery is a lifetime thing. You must change people, places, and things that trigger your addiction. You may have to leave friends you love for your own good.
Website – SoaringinSobriety.com
Facebook – Soaring in Sobriety
Twitter – @soaringinsobriety
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
See you then!
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Disclaimer – The opinions shared on this show reflect those of the individual speaker and not of any 12 step fellowship as a whole and though we discuss 12 step recovery and the impact it has had in our lives we do not promote or endorse any 12 step anonymous program.