AUDIO BOOK REVIEW: Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing by Matthew Perry
Publisher: MacMillan Audio
Synopsis“Hi, my name is Matthew, although you may know me by another name. My friends call me Matty. And I should be dead.”
So begins the riveting story of acclaimed actor Matthew Perry, taking us along on his journey from childhood ambition to fame to addiction and recovery in the aftermath of a life-threatening health scare. Before the frequent hospital visits and stints in rehab, there was five-year-old Matthew, who traveled from Montreal to Los Angeles, shuffling between his separated parents; fourteen-year-old Matthew, who was a nationally ranked tennis star in Canada; twenty-four-year-old Matthew, who nabbed a coveted role as a lead cast member on the talked-about pilot then called Friends Like Us. . . and so much more.
In an extraordinary story that only he could tell―and in the heartfelt, hilarious, and warmly familiar way only he could tell it―Matthew Perry lays bare the fractured family that raised him (and also left him to his own devices), the desire for recognition that drove him to fame, and the void inside him that could not be filled even by his greatest dreams coming true. But he also details the peace he’s found in sobriety and how he feels about the ubiquity of Friends, sharing stories about his castmates and other stars he met along the way. Frank, self-aware, and with his trademark humor, Perry vividly depicts his lifelong battle with addiction and what fueled it despite seemingly having it all.
Unflinchingly honest this book is a condemnation of many rehabs for just being cash cows taking advantage of people trying to get sober, staffed with people who don't know when something is medically dangerous thinking all complaints are drug seeking behavior. I'm not going to disagree with his assessment as I have witnessed it. Not to mention how easy it is to get drugs in some rehabs.
I'm actually surprised by how accomplished Matthew is considering the seriousness of his addictions. Although if he wasn't famous he probably would have died a long time ago. He doesn't sugar coat his issues or the way in which his life took plummets due to his using. He lost relationships, jobs, and barely held on to his career.
I didn't know much about Matthew Perry's past but I understand where some of his feelings of abandonment came from. Matthew's wit, and charm shine through even though you can tell it masks the pain of what he has been through. I'm sure there is still shame and self directed anger at what he lost and what he could have lost. This is the story of someone self reflecting and being honest with himself and everyone else about his addiction. Not an easy listen but interesting.
I think these stories need to be shared. Drug addiction and alcoholism carry with them such stigmas but the reality is that it can happen to anyone. It's a faulty switch inside people that doesn't tell them to stop, that makes it hard to stop. It's time to stop stigmatizing addiction and realize that these people are worthy of love and worth helping.
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