Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing. Matthew Perry. 2022. 250 pages. [Source: Library]
First sentence from the prologue: Hi, my name is Matthew, although you may know me by another name. My friends call me Matty. And I should be dead. If you like, you can consider what you're about to read to be a message from the beyond, my beyond.
Premise/plot: Matthew Perry's memoir was published in the fall of 2022. After his recent death I put this one on hold at the library. It is a personal story--with ups and downs. He writes of highs (literally and figuratively) and lows--successes and failures. He writes of his near death experiences. He doesn't shy away from the lowest of lows, of telling stories that make him look horrible.
My thoughts: This one was thought provoking. It was heartbreaking and brutal, but also eye opening in my opinion. I think even if you don't struggle with alcohol, drugs, or smoking (addictions), you can find it relatable. He never quotes Augustine, but you can't help but read this one without thinking of the God-shaped hole that every single person has. He writes of seeking God--and I've shared plenty of quotes below. It reads like the book of Ecclesiastes. He tried EVERYTHING; he kept trying everything. More, more, more--never enough. There was no joy, no happiness, no contentment in anything he was throwing into the void, into the emptiness, into the uncomfortable dread of reality. It isn't always easy to talk about sadness, depression, emptiness and loneliness, but Matthew Perry did in this memoir. Perhaps his book can help others who are experiencing their own battles. He asks many, many questions but I'm not sure he found the answers.
- My mind is out to kill me, and I know it. I am constantly filled with a lurking loneliness, a yearning, clinging to the notion that something outside of me will fix me. But I had had all that the outside had to offer!
- Not being able to stop screaming is a very scary state to be in.
- It is very odd to live in a world where if you died, it would shock people but surprise no one.
- I'm not the biggest fan of confrontation. I ask a lot of questions. Just not out loud.
- That said, I don't know how advanced civilization has to be to understand that giving phenobarbital to a baby who just entered his second month of breathing God's air is, at best, an interesting approach to pediatric medicine. But it wasn't that rare in the 1960s to slip the parents of a colicky child a major barbiturate.
- Maybe it was because I was always trying to fill a spiritual hole with a material thing...I don't know.
- "God, you can do whatever you want to me. Just please make me famous." Three weeks later, I got cast in Friends. And God has certainly kept his side of the bargain--but the Almighty, being the Almighty, had not forgotten the first part of that prayer as well.
- You have to get famous to know that it's not the answer. And nobody who is not famous will ever truly believe that.
- The most unnerving part was, I knew God was omniscient, which meant that he knew, already, what he had in store for me.
- "God, please help me," I whispered. "Show me that you are here. God, please help me."
- I had been in the presence of God. I was certain of it. And this time I had prayed for the right thing: help. Eventually the weeping subsided. But everything was different now.
- He had saved me that day, and for all days, no matter what. He had turned me into a seeker, not only of sobriety, and truth, but also of him. He had opened a window, and closed it, as if to say, "Now go earn this."
- And I seek the answer every day. I am a seeker. I seek God.
- I'm this close to dying every day. I don't have another sobriety in me. If I went out, I would never be able to come back. And if I went out, I would go out hard. I would have to go out hard because my tolerance is so high.
- I want that connection to something bigger than me because I'm convinced it's the only thing that will truly save my life. I don't want to die. I'm scared to die.
- I've never let myself feel uncomfortable long enough to have a spiritual connection. So, I fix it with pills and alcohol before God can jump in and fix me.
- I've seen God in my kitchen, of all places, so I know there's something bigger than me. I know it's an omnipresent love and acceptance that means that everything's going to be OK. I know something happens when you die. I know you move on to something wonderful.
- I am me. And that should be enough, it always has been enough. I was the one who didn't get that. And now I do.
- Someday you, too, might be called upon to do something important, so be ready for it. And when whatever happens, just think, What would Batman do? and do that.
© 2023 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews