the ugly writers

The Back Room

I didn’t know what an “alcoholic” looks like up close, or how they think or act, but this experience brought me to the realization that they look, think and act a lot like you and me

What was going on in this rather dark and mysterious back room? I had the same question week after week when I stopped by The Depot on Saturday mornings for a coffee break during my ten-mile walk. Week after week I would see this group of 40 or so people huddled in the dark back room with a glass door which gave me some visibility to what was going on. It was dark in the sense of being dimly lit. Finally, one week my curiosity got the best of me and I asked the person behind the counter what was going on in the back room. It was then that I learned that this was an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. “Hmm – interesting,” I thought.

Then the winter came and my race training season was over for five months, as was my semi-regular weekly pilgrimage to The Depot for my mid walk coffee break. Then something happened when I resumed my training schedule this March. Either I gained a little speed, or I got going a few minutes earlier, but I started to arrive at The Depot before the AA meeting was in progress, so I got to see these folks up close and interact a little with them as we waited on line together for our morning joe. Then they became real people to me and not a mysterious group in the back room of The Depot.

I have never had an issue with alcoholism, neither has anyone in my family or in my inner circle of friends (that I am aware of), so I didn’t know what an “alcoholic” looks like up close, or how they think or act, but this experience brought me to the realization that they look, think and act a lot like you and me. They come in all shapes and sizes, from various demographics, ethnicities and professions. One thing stood out though and that is probably two-thirds of the people in the back room were men. I don’t know if men with alcohol problems outnumber woman, but I do know that woman are more likely than men to share intimate things about their lives with each other.

I still don’t know much about alcoholism, and I don’t endorse or disparage any particular treatment program, but I give each of these people credit for facing their issues head-on and seeking support and camaraderie each week with other people facing similar issues. So, what appeared to me as a dark back room is actually a meeting place where real people bring real issues to the light.
Whether it is alcohol addiction or some other form of dysfunction or some other area where we are hurting that we can’t overcome on our own, it is healthy to bring our issues to the light and seek help and support from others in a safe environment. Maybe I should call this the front and center room.

If you enjoyed this, please check out Michael Natt‘s previous works:

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Michael Natt

Michael Natt

Michael worked in business for 40 years including 28 years as a systems engineer and project manager with IBM, and in various capacities for United Health Care, Grumman, and the YMCA.

Michael has also served as a congregational and teaching leader in Minnesota, Arizona and New York.

He earned a B.A. from Bethel University, and an M.A. in Human Resource Development from the University of St. Thomas.

He is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) and a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC). He has also completed 15 marathons and 60 half-marathons in 10 different states.

His passions are praying, reading, writing, crosswords, health, and fitness. He lives in Eden Prairie, Minnesota with his wife Cheryl. They have been married for 49 years.

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