038. Facing Trauma to Allow for Growth with Mark Crandall

Mark Crandall’s is a story of uncommon adversity and triumph. At age three, Mark was taken from his biological mother by the Department of Youth and Families and placed in the foster care system. He lacked the tools and supports to manage both his grief and his new reality in society’s margins. From the pieces he conjured stories about his own worth. At around age 12 Mark began contemplating whether or not to just give up.

Throughout his early childhood, Mark’s behavior stood out to others as being abnormal and aberrant. He began to engage in criminal activity, acting out his aggression at the expense of those closest to him and society at large. Years of counseling and various combinations of medications could not correct the feelings of inadequacy and separation within. Mark began to self-medicate with substances; thus began his spiral into painful, chaotic addiction. Mark found himself in and out of youth detention centers and other correctional facilities. He lashed out at those who would protect and support him. Though, even in his lowest moments, Mark recognized what others saw: There was greatness in even him.

In 2007, Mark found a spiritual program of action in which he began overcoming the many traumatic moments of his childhood. He also began the process of repairing the damage that he had caused others through his efforts to navigate life. Mark found freedom in an introspective process which informs his Transformational Life and Business Coaching and drug and alcohol Interventions. Mark is trained in some of the most powerful transformation practices available, all of which he uses in his work with others.

Mark has re-written the story of his life and has dedicated his life to empowering others to accomplish the same. Mark obtained a Masters Degree in Social Work (MSW) in 2014 and became a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC) and Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW). Mark spent seven years working with disadvantaged youth and providing individual and family counseling. He has conducted many successful Interventions for families in his work and has mastered the art of Transformational Life and Business Coaching. Mark is a master of conducting interventions and empowering the intervened client and the family to heal from drug addiction.

Mark’s success as an entrepreneur has made him a highly sought-after Transformational Life and Business Coach. He and his carefully curated circle of Transformational Life and Business Coaches do not believe that anyone lacks motivation; what they may lack, instead, is vision. We recognize that with vision and the proper mindset, anything is attainable. Mark has proven this principle in his own life by building a six-figure company within five months of its start; by publishing his renowned first memoir Eulogy of Childhood Memories; by leading fruitful corporate workshops;  and by inspiring a following through paid motivational speaking events. Mark learned with help from a long line of coaches that his past did not have to define his future. Mentors taught him how to break through real and imagined barriers and access greatness that lies within each living person. Mark considers his greatest assets to be his learned and organic abilities to bring out the potential within all of his clients and to guide them as they achieve their dreams.

Key Points from the Episode with Mark Crandall:

  • Mark shared his story, one of trauma, addiction, felony and transformation.
  • He started with his first memory, when he was two and a half, was painfully hungry and asked his sister where his mother was. His sister told him she was at the diner, and he remembers feeling anger toward his mother, and why she gets to eat but he doesn’t. That feeling kept recurring anytime he saw someone else with something and he didn’t have it.
  • His mother struggled with drugs and his father left before Mark had any memory of him.
  • He shared various stories that shaped him early on while he was still with his biological mother, culminating in when he was taken away from her and put into foster care with people who would end up adopting him and his sister.
  • His feeling growing up wasn’t that the situation he was born into was broken, but rather that he was. He felt that something was wrong with him, and that was why he was getting dropped off at random strangers’ homes, going hungry, not having clothes that fit, being physically hurt and ultimately not being “wanted” by his biological mother, or not wanted as much as she wanted her drugs.
  • That lead to a very aggressive way to live, which his adoptive parents bore the brunt of, as he swore to never let anyone hurt him the way his mother hurt him. He would hurt them first or make sure they never got a chance to hurt him.
  • His biological parents were on his mind all the time, and why he wasn’t like other kids. Why wasn’t he like them, why does he have these two families, why didn’t one of them keep him and care for him, why did his mother keep promising to come and yet never show up?
  • He either spent all of his energy in relationships waiting for someone to leave or pushing them away so they leave anyway.
  • At 11, he tried beer after seeing other people looking happy drinking, and he wanted that. It didn’t stick right away, but after a few years, he figured out what did make him happy after he started smoking marijuana.
  • As a pre-teen, he had his first thoughts of suicide. He thought about what the world would be like without him and that no one loves him. That’s not common for a nine to 11 year old, and he didn’t tell anyone about it. But around that time, he started to act out even more. He started setting fires, killing and torturing animals and other things. He holds a lot of shame about what he did, and is still working through those feelings today.
  • He started to smoke weed daily, and started stealing regularly to support his drug habit or just because.
  • The way he puts it, at nine years old, he had all the traits of a serial“å9 killer.
  • He ended up in a group home at 11 years old, which actually made things worse as he was around really bad behaviors and learned how to do even more bad things.
  • He went to high school after the group homes now armed with knowledge of all these new drugs he learned about, how to get them and how to use them, he felt he was on a mission to get drugs and that defined his high school years. Truancy, intoxication, anger and bad behavior. He said he was on a daily mission to quiet the voices in his head about how much he hated himself.
  • We talked about whether marijuana is a gateway drug. While this is debated biologically, we both agreed that behaviorally, it is. When you break down the barriers and stigmas, your aversion to a darker path diminishes. And now you are connected to a world with access to more and more of these things, so you can easily go down that path. For Mark, that’s how he got into heroin. His weed dealer was out of weed, but offered him, “something better instead.” He obviously would not have been in a position to start doing heroin without having been looking for weed.
  • Mark described his first experience with heroin and how it was the first relief he ever experienced from the extreme turmoil and pain he felt inside. It also lead to his being thrown out of his mother’s house and the path that eventually landed him in jail.
  • He did a year in county jail, and did a lot of reading in there, including David Peltzer’s various books like A Child Called It and Lost Boy. He realized while in prison that he would one day be an author and transform lives. He just wasn’t ready to do it yet, but the seed was planted.
  • After getting out of jail, the pain got stronger and the voice of anger inside of him got louder, which eventually lead him to use again. Once he started again, he quickly spiraled out of control to heavy use and criminal activity with police chasing him regularly. Not after long, he was back in prison, and views his second time as rehabilitative. Interestingly, he was high the entire time, so he doesn’t mean it like that, but they forced him to get his GED, which was the first step to going to a court-ordered, year-long strict rehab program that saved his life.
  • In rehab, he was introduced to a number of tools that changed his life as he began seeking. He was taught about meditation, religion and various books by people like The Dalai Lama and Thict Naut Hahn. This is when Mark really began to transform into what he is today, and found the tools to help others do the same.
  • Mark shared why he doesn’t like the term, “Self-Help,” and prefers to talk about people needing empowerment. It changes the idea from being that you’re broken from being that you need to amplify your best.
  • Looking throughout history at the greatest religious leaders and teachers of enlightenment, you find consistent back stories of pain and suffering leading to great insight and inspiration.
  • Mark realized through this that he spent his entire life playing the victim. Being a victim is not the same as playing a victim. He is a victim, but that is very different from acting like one. Playing one is about blaming all future outcomes and reactions to life on experiences of the past. It’s the difference between, “This happened to me,” and, “This happened for me.”
  • You can’t make a choice if you don’t realize there’s a decision to be made. He had to have a wake up to realize that it wasn’t working. He said the worst place he can get to is one of, “I know.” Thinking that way blocks him from seeing what could be or how he can grow.
  • To grow out of your current thought patterns, you need empathy – the ability to see what someone else is seeing. You need different thought patterns to see other ways forward.
  • Mark said something that stopped me in my tracks, “The truth doesn’t need defending.” If he is defending something, then perhaps there’s something going on within him that the defense is signaling since if what he was saying was true, it wouldn’t need any defense. Defense is a signal to him that there’s growth to be had.
  • Mark gave a challenge to the listeners to pick a moment to advocate with themselves regardless of what they think the other people in the interaction will think.


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