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  • Mark Parker

Recovery: Learning the Dance of Life. Self-discovery, Salsa & Social Work!!! [2004 - 2010]

Updated: May 20

This post is one of numerous subsections of my: BIOGRAPHY - Who am, where do I come from & WTF am I about?


After years of severe Alcoholism / Addictions & countless attempts to "get clean", late April 2004 would be my last detoxification at Warinilla prior to admission for comprehensive rehabilitation at Drug & Alcohol Services South Australia's Woolshed Therapeutic community, Ashbourne SA. See Blog Post "Woolshed Therapeutic Community - 2004"


Although originally planning to go back to my children I'd never been able to successfully stay sober before & didn't want to destroy their lives by relapsing. Therefore, I made one of the hardest decisions of my life electing to set up in Adelaide where I had strong support networks & greater opportunity to maintain recovery & build a prosperous life from which in theory I'd be better able to father my children.

In addition to the emotional side of things it was also challenging to juggle transferring my public housing whilst living in the Salvation Army's Towards Independence program in the Adelaide CBD which although isolating was close to meetings. This proved to be essential as within a month or so of leaving the Woolshed's Halfway house my peers all began to relapse making the road to recover all the more isolated & treacherous.



Late 2004


Being healthier than I'd ever been I become "romantically" involved with Stacey Davenport who I'd met at the Woolshed. Although Stacey relapses & is in many ways an unhealthy friendship, I was devastated when she eventually moved back to Melbourne due to being unable to find employment here. However, we'd maintain contact & remain friends over the years leading up & beyond her later returning to share more time with me either side of various other attempts at recovery.


2005 - As a component of my recovery & trying to explore healthy recreational activities & social communities that didn't involve drugs & alcohol, I faced one of my greatest paralysis like fears - DANCE!!!. After several attempts in nightclubs whilst out with friends from rehab & NA, someone suggested an advertisement in a newspaper for latin dance classes at Latino Grooves Dance Studio. Although I was like a deer in the headlights or a combination of the Lion, Scarecrow & Tin-man requiring heart, courage & not tripping over my brain - quickly soon fell deeply in love with the recreational art form of dance & its associated communities.

Posing at my 40th with Victoria who in back in 2005 literally dragged my petrified arse onto the dancfloor & supported me through my very first attempt at dancing Salsa socially. In doing so igniting my passion for dance & looking back on a night I'll never forget - I don't think I'd have had the guts to do it without her.


2006

Although extremely challenging over the initial months getting started my passion for dance grew so rapidly it wasn't long before I was dancing 6nights a week. After a romantic affair with an retired Australian Dance Theatre contemporary dancer I met within the Latin Dance community Mia Mason, I learned about & was soon preparing for auditions to undertake a Bachelor of Dance Performance @ TafeSA's - Adelaide College of the Arts. However, although failing to be selected I accepted an offer that was made by Sarah Foster whilst preparing for the audition - for a scholarship to undertake full time dance training at Dancar Productions that he was offered whilst training for the Audition.


Soon after I met the "love of my life" Katherine Russell who become "the one who got away" after I fucked her around pushing her away. Knowing I was at risk of relapsing or suicide due to the severe emotion pain this caused this was finally enough to motivate me to undertake my "4th & 5th Steps" as a psychoanalytical process that facilitated the most constructive personal insight & personal development of my life. I had no idea I was so afraid of being afraid that I was oblivious to the fact that my entire life had been completely dominated by fear. However, on paper it was undeniably clear that fear surrounding my social, security & sexual instincts which had manifested in the development of all kinds of unhealthy, counterproductive & often destructive psychological & behavioural patterns.

Although, I was successfully able to apply such information into drastically improving the many "relationships" experienced moving forward I'm yet to encounter anyone who's had close to the power I was too much off a pussy to even admit that woman had over me.


Despite being heartbroken in ways I'm unsure I ever truly recovered from I directed my pain into my recovery & passionately continuing my pursuit of a career in dance. Which included the performance I'd been training for whilst with Katherine during which I sustained a significant spinal injury involving two bulged disks L4-L5. See: My Fair Lady 2006 - Violated, Used, Broken & Abandoned.

Nevertheless, after experiencing great distress thinking my life was over thought several months of hell my friend who was a physiotherapist basically told me the Doctor's are full of shit & I need to keep moving & recommended I undertake some hard-core Pilates with Leanne from Queen Street Pilates.



Although every session was painful I could feel the benefit of the palates & was able to build myself back up enough to be successful in my 2nd audition to undertaking a Bachelor of Dance Performance @ TafeSA's - Adelaide College of the Arts & claim 2nd place in La Bomba, Latin Dance Studio, Events & Entertainment's:

2007 Tropicana National Salsa Competition.


Through maintaining my recovery by adopting an ongoing commitment to applying the 12 steps throughout my personal development across all aspects of life, including ongoing personal inventory, whilst doing my best in practicing spiritual principles in all my affairs as a component of maximising my capacity to be of service to others - I managed to find a place where despite having experienced significant adversity I'd come to peaceful terms with a once all too burdensome past & despite the trials & tribulations of life found a place of happiness peace & serenity.

Photo: Oct 2007


Complex combinations of micro level changes & throughout the above process enabled me to function better across all aspect of life as Son, brother friend & most importantly as a father.

Photo: Feb 2008

2008-2012: Bachelor of Social Worker


After failing a subject in my Bachelor of Dance Performance & being required to repeat, I was faced with another hugs & extremely difficult life decision - Continue pursuing a qualification that I may never be physically able to achieve. Of course, although I loved dance I had to consider that as a father I owed it to my children tp make responsible career choices. As my recovery I was also dedicated to helping others I decided that despite having never finished school I'd sit the test in attempting to apply for an appropriate university degree & if I got in that would determine my path. I applied for a Bachelor of Psychological Science & Social Science offered by UniSA as a double degree & got in. However, I transferred after 1st years directly into a Bachelor of Social Work as it was a better qualification & I was more comfortable with the manner by which it sought to understand humans in context to the complexities of our environmental context.


As Social Work is a broad professional field subject to all kinds of stigma and misconception and due to its relevance to the context of Universal Asylums “business” it seems relevant provide brief elaboration. The cute little introductory definition put to us in 2008 was “Social Work – the interface between humans and our environments”. Advising us societies three most critical threats are global conflict, ecological collapse and managing our ageing population, followed by a list of problems more typically associated with Social Work such as cultural and gender based inequality, domestic violence, homelessness, drug and alcohol, “mental health”, etc. Outlining three main career directions associated with such qualifications along the lines of being underpaid burning ourselves out working for under-resourced NGOs concerned with social issues perpetuated by systemic flaws, or for better pay we could work for the government which in most cases would require compromising values with any positive influence we offer limited by bureaucracy and last but not least struggling to survive as an activist fighting for greatest social change. With the aim of Social Work being – “to do ourselves out of a job”.


This is fundamental to every aspect of Universal Asylum, from its name, general “mission statement” and the two distinctly individual yet interconnected sets of intellectual property it claims ownership underpinning political “demands” of potentially monumental historical significance pended serious consideration by “the right” people.


However, of the three critical threats the oversimplified statement introducing the one I’d been previously unaware “in 20-30 years everyone will either be the elderly or employed looking after the elderly” was possibly greatest influence my approach to 4 years of full-time tertiary “education” in an academic field that encouraged critical analysis of everything associated with the above including itself as individuals within a professional culture informed by and potentially contributing to it’s evolving broad knowledge base. The impossibly of this oversimplified extreme where no one is left to run necessary aspect of society was a clever way of raising an extremely serious issue with all kinds of complex implications with lecturers particularly cautious to avoid speculation over how governments might “manage” such a vulnerable situation. Obviously without appropriate intervention our entire social structure structure will collapse well before reaching such extremes. Of course, governments would surely step in before that, or would they?


Learning of society's greatest challenging in relation to our ageing population upon commencing my degree (& the implications of that for everyone I'd ever known & loved) was undoubtedly my greatest motivation to dedicating my heart & soul into learning as much as humanly possible about the history of mankind leading to the complex problems faced in contemporary society particularly in respect to the rapidly approaching health crisis associated with our ageing population & in informing the formulation various complex components of an alternate social structure that provides a solution to the worlds problems which will eventually manifest into Universal Asylum.


Obviously the personal understanding of my self I'd developed as a result of my recovery influenced my understanding of existing recognised psychological understanding & therapeutic frameworks which could be collectively applied into understanding various therapeutic aspect of 12 step recovery models. Of course, this inspired me to critically examine the way in which 12step programs apply the concept of God in informing the development an alternate 12step model that provided clinically recognised alternate concepts to God. 12 step fellowships being leaderless with everyone equals is also a potentially relevant cultural influence to Universal Asylums “leaderless system of governance”. The “war on drugs” was obviously the greatest socially irresponsible waste of resources that could be reinvested if possible to overcome the cultural and political barriers to evidence based solutions. However I never anticipated such experience to come into play with such relevance to my 'Psychedelics' years after my degree and the value of this towards our aging population, managing the health of broader society and how that could be invested to the fgreatest value in serving everyones interests.


Between my experience practicing the 12 steps in his personal development & relationships with others, feminist theories such as Queer Theory & other sociological based critiques of religion & its role in the perpetuation of concepts such as monogamy & marriage as an institution to serve labor based societies, - develop belief systems that traditional "relationships" are an unnatural socially constructed institution to serve labor based economic structures & that love is about how you treat people rather than "possession".










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