Mark Goodson is a very active member of our SHAIR Recovery group, and it’s about time we had him on to tell us his wild story. His life of addiction started before he ever took his first drink and eventually triggered an episode of drug induced psychosis that led him to bizarre behavior, like stripping down naked in a Mexican church.
Now Mark Goodson’s a sober husband, dad, and writer at his website called The Miracle of the Mundane. Merriam-Webster defines the word ‘mundane’ as dull, but Mark finds ordinary life to be a miracle, and his sobriety has unleashed his creativity on a whole new level.
CLEAN DATE: October 13th 2007
Listen to Mark’s story!
Here are a few highlights from our interview. To get the full story please join us on the podcast now!
Mark remembers thinking like an alcoholic before ever drinking. He was at the local deli waiting for food. As he swiveled on his stool, he looked around at all the people. What he felt was envy, a sick desire that he wanted to be anybody but himself. He even envied the bum begging for change. It seemed they knew what they were supposed to be.
I had this feeling I was unfit for the world, unfit for my own skin.
That’s the mindset he had when he took his first drink. He was at a sleepover when he was ten years old, and he and his friend raided the liquor stash. They replaced the clear booze with water and mixed up a variety of highballs. His friend knew when they had had enough and told Mark that it was time to stop. But Mark said it was not enough. He walked in a straight line and told his friend that if he could still walk then he wasn’t drunk yet.
The next thing he remembered was waking up in the basement with a Nintendo controller imprinted on his forehead. His friend told him all these things he couldn’t remember. You’d think that would scare a kid, but Mark felt like he finally succeeded in getting out of himself. He could take a break from being Mark. He thought it was an amazing solution to life.
Alcohol worked spiritual wonders in my life.
Mark suffered the consequences throughout high school, but he found the secret to getting away with it. If he buckled down during the week in school and sports, people wouldn’t be concerned about him. He would make it to Friday night and then let it all go into oblivion. As long as he took care of his business, he’d be able to have his escape.
But Mark didn’t last long after college. He went out to LA to be a screenwriter and became part of the Hollywood lifestyle that would finish him off. He lasted a year, sleeping on couches, going through bouts of depression. Sometimes, he didn’t want to go anywhere or see anybody. He’d be alone drinking heavily and afraid to move. Eventually he’d snap out of it and it would be party time again, but inside he was running scared, oblivious to what he was doing to himself.
Soon, the weed he was smoking wasn’t helping him be creative anymore. The cocaine wasn’t making him social anymore. The shot of bourbon didn’t put him to sleep anymore. It all stopped working. He didn’t enjoy getting high anymore, yet he couldn’t stop using.
A friend of his intervened, picked him up, and took him away from LA. But Mark suffered a drug induced psychosis and had to go into a psychiatric facility. From there he was sent to a 28-day rehab.
Mark still felt like there was nothing wrong with him. He would not admit he was an alcoholic or addict.
Three days into treatment, he was handed a sheet of paper with a prayer printed on it called Slow Me Down Lord. For all his pride and denial about his problem, he was in such bad withdrawal the letters floated around and he couldn’t even read. He couldn’t turn a blind eye anymore. He finally said, “My name is Mark, and I’m an alcoholic.”
In that moment, he felt a relief that alcohol and drugs could never give him. He always tries to keep that moment in the front of his mind in his new life in sobriety.
You have to surrender to win.
What kept Mark from getting clean?
Denial. The poker face. “I don’t have a problem. Everyone else has a problem.”
Mark always sorted things out alone, but sobriety is not something people can do alone. It was a long hard lesson for him to learn.
That aha moment
MarK was stubborn even after he surrendered to recovery. He went through a routine to avoid tougher parts of the 12 Steps. After meetings he’d chain smoke, saying “I need to find a sponsor. I need to find a sponsor.” Whenever he started working with somebody new, he’d get stuck. He’d invent excuses of why it was not going to work out with that particular sponsor instead of facing the inevitable.
Then one sponsor simply said:
“Sooner or later, you have to do the work.”
This repeated like an earworm in Mark’s head. He couldn’t get away from it. Finally, he gave in, and it didn’t take long for him to realize that the hard work made him feel really good.
Mark remembers a phrase he heard early on in recovery:
You can’t think yourself in to a new way of acting. You have to act yourself into a new way of thinking.
You have to get active. Do something. You can’t just let those thoughts swallow you whole. The best way to do that is be of service. Seeing what other people are going through gets us out for our own heads.
Suggestion for newcomers
The first drink gets you drunk. Don’t pick up. Go to a meeting. Call somebody.
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.