Fat Tuesday is the traditional name for the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent in the Christian churches. Fat Tuesday is more commonly known as Mardi Gras, which is simply Fat Tuesday in French. Originally known as Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday is often known as Pancake Day, because people used up their dairy and eggs by making pancakes and similar pastries. Traditionally Lent was a time to fast from meat and all products produced by animals, including butter and milk.
If you have never been to Mardi Gras, it is a paarrttyyyy. It is a celebration of excess. In the celebrations of all things Mardi Gras, especially Fat Tuesday, there is no thought to moderation or control. For most, the goal of Mardi Gras is to “celebrate” with all that you have, and that was the the mission of my life in this season. I was living in very real space of excess. In my desire to find the feeling of numb, I believed wholeheartedly that if a little was good, more had to be better.
In March of 2007, I was increasingly out of control. My best decisions led me to think that no one knew I was spiraling down the drain. Sure, I had plenty of people fooled. Some even blamed my erratic behavior on things other than pills and alcohol. But much like the Mardi Gras parties that I still love to attend, there are only so many shiny beads and glitter wigs that you can wear before everyone notices that the person under the costume does not have it all together. The parades are great. The big beads are exciting. But sometimes the insanity of the party is just that…insane.
I was attending my small group crawfish boil with kids and families and boiling pots and beer. At this point, I was free from the church rules, so why not? While everyone else had one or two beers, I had a secret stash in a small cooler. In addition, unbeknownst to anyone, I had already taken pills. The mudbugs were consumed and the yard games were enjoyed, and all was great. Deep into the evening, I was in the yard and someone noticed that I was standing in a fire ant bed. I had no clue. After dusting off the ants, I was escorted to the car and I will never forget the look on Lucas’s face when he asked, “Are you drunk?”
I passed out on the way home – in my 5 year-old’s lap. I don’t remember getting from the car to the bed or the bed to the bathtub, but sometime in the middle of the night, I crawled to my bathroom. I recall crying sobs of misery and the only words that came to me were, “I love it too much.”
What in the hell was about to happen? When the light of day hit the mess that I had created, what was going to happen? I had never felt so alone and so ashamed. I didn’t know it was possible to hate myself that much. I just wanted to die. I wanted to fall asleep in that empty bathtub and never wake up. Because surely it was easier than facing the destruction that was coming when the light of day was cast on the mess that I had created.