It took losing someone I love for me to finally see alcohol for what it is.

Me and my grandmother

He called at 7 pm on March 12th. I had just put the kids in the bath. It was an odd time for my friend’s husband to call from the East Coast, so I answered with a pit in my stomach.

“Meg, do you have a minute to talk?”

“Ya, let me make sure Scott can cover the kids. What’s up?”

“We got the autopsy. She died of a toxic consumption of alcohol.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means her blood alcohol volume was 4.0 and she probably asphyxiated.”

The world shut down on March 13th, 2020, which made sense…

I think I’m a normal person, and that it’s normal to become addicted to an addictive substance.

Me and my daughter. Image by Scott Schell

I’ve found myself responding to other writers about the word alcoholic a lot lately. So much so that I decided to consolidate my responses into this piece, and I welcome your comments.

If you identify as an alcoholic, I assume that’s because it helps you in ways I don’t (yet) understand — and I celebrate you. I celebrate everything that helps anyone live with more joy and greater health — and I know there isn’t only one way to do that. …

I coach trouble makers.

On a family road trip, and a quick stop in the Bonneville Salt Flats. Photo credit: Scott Schell

I was trying to get out of the backseat of my mom’s Volvo station wagon. My too-big L.L Bean backpack was stuck in the too-small opening between the door and the seat. The thick heat of our musty garage against my plaid uniform felt like stepping into a panic attack. I wanted to get out of there, but I was still struggling with my bag. And I must have been talking about something. I don’t remember what. …

And I’m done pretending that’s not tragic.

My three year old self. Used with permission from my old photo album.

It’s not that I confused you with love — it’s that you were part of my experience of being loved.

When he came into my room to wake me up. And he hugged me, and I hugged him back and said, “I wish it could always be like this.” I was also saying, please don’t go. Stay sober, please. I feel scared when it’s not like this.

I can see that now.

Now I know it was the Beefeater dry gin leaving his body that called me a bitch. It wasn’t him, it was you.

I know he didn’t mind…

And that’s not nearly as simple as it sounds

Me at age four or five.

When I was 18, I ran up and down hills wearing heavy, stiff boots, singing songs, and carrying a 7-pound rubber rifle. I was in basic training, and they ran us until our legs stopped working — so we took turns carrying each other. We put our heads down and pushed the limp body in front of us by their web belt.

On my first day, I heard someone getting yelled at in the hallway. I ran and squeezed myself between the yelling faces, and my classmate.

The yelling faces were delighted at my loyalty and tried to hide their…

Becoming a mom helped me get out of my own way.

My daughter. Photo by Scott Schell.

In my twenties, I always seemed to have a little extra space.
Even my bra used to wrinkle where it now flexes.

But now, there is just your little big belly.
Your belly that wakes up hungry for oranges.
Your belly that won’t stop asking until it is satisfied.

And thank God.

Because I ached for your belly.
For years, and years, and years.

And I think we all have aches.
I think these aches are our engines.

Mostly I think we are afraid to feel them. For fear, they will swallow us whole.
And I suppose they do swallow us…

My family, emerging from the pandemic on the first day of blueberry picking season after five days of preschool and sixteen months without childcare.

A Challenge: From Tre L. Loadholt

Me and my husband, on a motorcycle trip in Mongolia — before we knew I was pregnant with our daughter.

A Challenge: From Tre L. Loadholt

Celebrating my 41st first birthday, 31 weeks pregnant. Photo by Scott Schell.

In case you’re interested in joining too. I’ll follow the guidelines, so you can follow along.

In your pledge post, you share:

1.Why you have chosen to do a Medium challenge

I have childcare for the first time in s-i-x-t-e-e-n-MONTHS.

Starting today, I have fifteen child-free hours, every week, for four consecutive weeks. That sentence feels like marbles in my mouth — because did I mention my husband and I haven’t had one minute of childcare in sixteen months? My oldest is 5, my youngest is 2.

2. What you’ll be doing during your 30-day writing challenge

Writing. I’m inspired…

Meghann McNiff

I’m an Integral Coach and Co-Founder of the Seattle Coaching Collective.

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