Mark K. talks about his long journey to find recovery, from his biggest sober successes to his advice for newcomers.
Q: What excites you the most when you get up in the morning?
A: Waking up without having to feel ashamed or embarrassed about what I may or may not have done the day before.
Q: What is your motto? And what about this motto appeals to you?
A: “Just for Today.” I have it tattooed across my lower arm. No matter how difficult the situation, no matter how strong the urge, I can always hang in there until midnight.
Q: What has been the best part of recovery for you? Why?
A: The friends I have made in the fellowship of recovery. Staying connected through the Mountainside Alumni Program has helped a great deal with this. Active addiction is a pretty lonely place.
Q: What would you say is the biggest success – professional or personal – you’ve had since leaving Mountainside?
A: Earning the respect of my two sons.
Q: What has been your biggest hurdle in recovery, and how did you learn to overcome it?
A: Meetings were not easy for me in the beginning. This was a problem because I know today that I cannot stay sober and happy by myself. Thankfully, I kept going and eventually found meetings that worked for me. I hung in there; I didn’t give up. No legitimate success comes without struggle.
Q: What was the turning point that led you to get help?
A: Waking in the middle of the night, desperate for a drink and finding no alcohol in the house. I went into my bedroom and informed my wife that I just couldn’t stop, and said: “I have to go back to Mountainside.”
Q: If you could, what would you tell your younger self?
A: I think I knew I was an alcoholic when I was 16. I found sobriety at 53, maybe that says it all? Don’t wait to get help!
Q: What would you like people who are afraid to receive treatment to know?
A: Making major changes in your life is never easy and it certainly can be scary at times, but it’s not nearly as scary as active addiction.
Q: What suggestions do you have for the newcomer?
A: I was telling my story recently at the “Perry Street Workshop” in Greenwich Village, New York. There was a slogan on the wall I fell in love with, “There is no wrong way to get sober.
Q: What is the best advice you have been given?
A: I believe one of the reasons I’ve maintained my sobriety is that I listen to all advice suggested. Of course, I don’t follow everything I hear, but I take it all in.
Q: What is the one item you can’t do without?
A: An exercise regimen.
Q: Would you rather be an inventor or a leader? Why?
A: I don’t believe it’s a question of choice; you have to be an inventor first. If that works out, the leadership role will follow.
Q: Who — dead or alive — is on the guest list for your ideal dinner party?
A: The higher power of my understanding.
Q: What’s the one thing people would be pleasantly surprised to know about you?
A: That I have made many mistakes in recovery. But I have never had to take a drink or a drug over any of them.
Q: What are you currently reading or what song have you enjoyed recently? What do you love about it?
A: I have struggled some with concentration lately. I am finding it helpful to read something on the lighter side, staying away from books related to recovery, politics, or world issues. You know, sometimes we just need to chill!