Mark Lundholm: Healing Through Humor
2015 Alumni Reunion entertainer, laughter takes the bite out of fear
Mark Lundholm, the evening entertainer for this year’s Alumni Reunion, is looking forward to being a part of Oxford Treatment Center’s first-ever Alumni Reunion.
“This is a chance to celebrate healing. That doesn’t happen in everyday life often enough,” he says. “Life is a daily celebration: I’m sober another day.”
Lundholm remembers clearly what his life was like in early recovery.
“I was full of information, full of myself, and full of mistakes,” he recalls. “There’s a parallel between the disease and early recovery, We think it’s my program, my home group, myself — when in reality, none of it belongs to us. It took years to walk off that initial ignorance of ‘now I’m clean, but I’m on my own.’ It doesn’t work like that.”
Lundholm says that people were patient with him, and that during the first two years of his recovery, he was barely scratching the surface of the deeper issues he was dealing with. It took him seven years to learn how to speak at a meeting, he says.
“I’ll give you a shortcut and tell you how to speak at a meeting: Be honest, be brief, be seated,” he says. “It’s not tough to talk, but to tell the truth when you talk.”
Lundholm believes in the importance of honesty and its crucial place in recovery. During active addiction, many addicts find themselves caught up in a web of lies trying to protect themselves and their substances.
“If there is something you feel like you have to keep a secret, don’t do it,” he says. “This month, don’t have any secrets.”
In early recovery, it’s not uncommon to feel guilt and shame for what one did during active addiction. Lundholm uses humor to break the ice and allow people to confront some of the deeper issues they’re continuing to work through.
“I enjoy that we get to laugh about things that we’re not supposed to discuss at all,” Lundholm says. “If we laugh at it, we can talk about. If we talk about it, we don’t have to be surprised by it.
“Laughter lessens the threat of the serious problem and helps remove the shame. If I can laugh at what I was afraid of, I will not run back to it.”
Lundholm has spent the last 27 years helping people experience healing through humor. He has done work for treatment centers, school systems, Fortune 500 Companies, the U.S. Army, and even NASA.
Now, in addition to his other work, Lundholm leads humor-based clinical process groups for American Addiction Centers (AAC) treatment centers. Michael Cartwright, Chairman & Co-Founder of AAC, was the first person to hire Lundholm for clinical work.
“Mark is one of the funniest guys I’ve ever met in recovery,” Cartwright says. “He’s got long-term sobriety, and he understands the 12-step philosophy.
“Sometimes people are so serious and stoic about the topic of recovery. But we’ve seen how humor can get people engaged in treatment. Having someone who can make people laugh helps people open up in a group. It helps people bond in a unique way and propels their recovery forward.”