The question most in recovery get asked is whether or not living in recovery is any fun. Sure addicts and alcoholics have experienced hopelessness and despair, but for some reason some are reluctant to join recovery if there was no fun. As if their life currently was something special. “God gave us a humor muscle, says Mark Lundholm. “You were given a humor muscle from birth. If it was given to you earliest, why isn’t used most often? I laugh so hard at things, I forget I was mad. I was angry at something so significant that it dissolved on its own. God gave us that humor muscle to point out where we are fractured. The upside of that humor muscle is that it attaches itself to a truth that makes it less shameful. If we laugh at, we won’t have to feel bad about.”

Mark Lundholm tends to take risks. Certainly not the same risks he once took as a self-proclaimed “ex hundred twenty-some pound methamphetamine, cocaine, wino, cardboard box living, shuffle-step, mumble-bum, horrible smelling, long hair, foul-mouth criminal, living under a bridge most of the 80’s and in abandoned buildings when no one bigger or badder would kick me out.”
Dallas Country Club hosted the 4th Annual Twelfth Step Ministry Gratitude Dinner, where comedian Mark Lundholm brought his creative, quirky, recovery-brand comedy as the keynote speaker. “It’s an honor to help raise funds and awareness for such a special place,” says Lundholm. “The 12th Step Ministry where they host all kinds of meetings, they have AA, CA, GA, NA, GA, and triple A, there’s all kind of A’s. They have Marijuana Anonymous where the meetings are long, and they have snacks. There’s Heroin Anonymous which is nap time. Methamphetamine Anonymous, that’s a six minute meeting.”

The Twelfth Step Ministry was created in order to provide recovery services to a variety of people suffering with addictions. Since the early 1990’s the Twelfth Step Ministry has been providing recovery and support services to community members in North Texas. Then in December 2005 the Twelfth Step Ministry was formalized and incorporated with it’s own board of directors.

The Board of Directors are committed to the continuation of the Twelfth Step Ministry’s mission, to provide a safe inclusive community which delivers hope, support, education and training to the recovery and professional communities in North Texas. From its inception, the principles of the Twelfth Step Ministry formed the essence of our heritage and today act as the cornerstone for our mission of service to the North Texas community.

“Families you help will not have to be involved with the criminal justice system to be liberated, says Lundholm. “We get to pass it onto our kids before they have it passed onto them by the disease. We give them help before the disease even shows up. This disease can reach out and grab families that are unaware of its reach. This disease doesn’t choose people. Our gift is our curse. Tears through some homes and leaves some untouched. A force of nature that this disease is, it’s a frightening sight.”

Lundholm has been clean and sober for twenty four years now, but as Lundholm puts it, “I have run out of excuses to behave badly in public. We like to pat ourselves on the back for stopping behaviors normal people haven’t tried one time. We get a coin or a chip and we remind ourselves we stop dying a day at a time.” Lundholm was not there to make people feel obligated to laugh. Make you laugh, make you cry, make you think, or make you donate. Lundholm believes that the two biggest things shrinking in this economy is entertainment and donations.
Lundholm uses the word God a lot in his speech, “If you’re not a God person I am no threat to you. If you are Agnostic I applaud your casual connection and root for your possible epiphany. If you’re an atheist God bless you.” Another coined phrase Lundholm uses, “First thought wrong,” has become his signature saying. “There are jails and prisons filled with first thought wrong people,” says Lundholm.

“Recovery has taught me that first thought wrong properly filtered becomes the next right thing. Recovery is not the absence of first thought wrong, it’s the ability to navigate through it with grace and not lose my place of grace cause God gave me an opportunity. First thought wrong is my disease, it’s not my future. I am closer to the most expensive relapse I’ll ever have. I have stuff now, more than I ever have.”

“There are two groups on this planet, the normal and the rest of us” says Lundholm. “God didn’t make black or white, he or she, gay or straight, tall or short, or politically towards Republican or Democrat, Independent or Green, this disease doesn’t care about IQ, or heart, or heritage. This disease is actually more open-minded than most people would have it. It’s not racist, it’s not sexist. God designed humor to highlight hurt, and to illuminate illness. Humor will point out where we are fractured. So if you don’t laugh it’s not because I am not funny, it’s because you are broken.”

Lundholm believes what he calls normal people won’t get all of his jokes. “You don’t drink till your sick, you don’t spend money you don’t have, and you don’t put your family at risk. You tell the truth because it was ok, there were no witnesses. You watch ‘Dancing with the Stars’ and hope they don’t fall. You use words like retirement and 401K. For the rest of us, we use words like allegedly, probably cause, and the four most beautiful words in our language, sentences to run concurrent.”

Lundholm says he came from a dysfunctional family, and started drinking at age four. The oldest of five boys, Lundholm says that he saw the value in humor very early on in his life. “If I was funny, my dad didn’t come at me as quickly. If I was funny, I couldn’t let on that you crushed my spirit at 4 years old. Also you didn’t say anything, cause if you told, it would happen more often. That’s part of the disease, and it has nothing to do with drugs or alcohol. It has to do with a lifestyle that says we keep secrets because secrets keep us safe. Volume doesn’t substitute for manhood.”

“I go from dope to hope in recovery,” a smiling Lundholm boasts. “I am not the dad that I had, so my son is not the boy that I was. He’s safe all day and all night. I go home to an address that hasn’t changed in a long time, a five year old boy that adores his father. I never break my word to him. I never give my word if there is a chance that I can break it. I never keep a secret from my boy. If I am not going to tell him, I am not going to do it. He knows we have two things we live by at the house, and that’s to take care of mom every day and never break our word. You do that it’ll keep you right-sized.”

“If you have the disease that I have, which is a medical disease that says more will be better, even when it’s terrible. Next time will be different even if it was awful. If I don’t look at it it’ll go away on its own. If I didn’t mention it, it didn’t happen. If I don’t own up to it, I don’t have to do the work to get away from it. This disease penalizes those that don’t know they have it. Once we know we have it, it’s our choice. We chose it every day.”

Lundholm does over 300 speaking engagements a year, speaking to Fortune 500 companies, treatment centers, corporate seminars, comedy clubs, jails, etc. Burning Tree Treatment Programs sponsored Mark Lundholm as the keynote speaker. Lundholm was able to spend some time at Burning Tree Ranch in Kaufman, Texas and spent time with the clients currently going through the long-term treatment program. “These are broken boys and girls in adult bodies,” says Lundholm. “I told Burning Tree clients the same thing that I would tell myself when I came into recovery at age 28, and the things that I still tell myself to this day. If I have to keep it a secret, I am not going to do it. I told them it’s not a bad thing having what you have. It’s a horribly dysfunctional thing to keep doing what have been doing. You want to be less depressed, help someone else. Freedom starts at forgiveness. Trust is never misplaced, it’s only misused. It’s not going to be my problem, I am going to get into the solution cause I can do something about that.”

Lundholm spoke directly, passionately, and emotionally on addiction and how it has shaped him as man, father, and a person in recovery. He allowed people to digest the seriousness of the disease, but also made people realize that addiction can be talked about in a light-spirited kind of way. He allows you to mess up in life, but gives a few pointers he has learned from being a married guy in recovery. “I speak nine languages, they are all English. I speak kid. I am trying to become fluent in female. If you are a guy, rule number one is the argument I win is the one that I don’t enter. When she says the word suggestion, it does not mean I get a choice. Suggestion for a woman is a way of including a man in a decision he won’t make.”