*Trigger Warning ⚠️; talk of substance abuse*
I recently read Matthew Perry’s new memoir where he tells the harrowing story of his battle with addiction for the better part of 30 years. He’s now 54.
Although we welcomed funnyman character “Chandler Bing” into our hearts and homes for 10 of those 30 years as part of the Friends ensemble, most people watching him onscreen had no idea that Matthew himself was in the fight of his life or just how sick he truly was.
He begins his memoir by introducing himself with a very powerful statement, saying, “Hi, my name is Matthew, although you may know me by another name. My friends call me Matty. And I should be dead.”
That’s actually an understatement!!
As I turned each page, I felt every ounce of Matthew’s pain as he delved deeper and deeper behind the scenes and into his deeply personal account of what his life has looked like for nearly 30 years now which includes a look inside his somewhat complex relationships with those closest to him, trying desperately to fall in love and find his happily ever after, attending thousands upon thousands of AA meetings, his lies and deception, his drug dealers and crooked doctors, his overwhelming tales from inside the 15 plus rehab centres, mental health institutions and sober living facilities he’s been admitted to (he calculated that he has spent over 7 million dollars doing so) and the numerous near death experiences he’s encountered from years and years of substance abuse including having his colon explode about 5 years ago; his family being told he had a two percent chance of survival, then spending weeks in a coma, 5 months in hospital and close to 20 surgeries since then in order to repair it.
Staying sober has now become Matthew’s main focus and top priority in his life, that, and writing. He has achieved more than 18 months of sobriety to date. But his journey with sobriety will never end, it is a conscious and sober decision he and others just like him make every morning when they wake up and something he and millions of others work very hard at to achieve every single night. It may take a lifetime for him to heal from his past traumas, especially those from his childhood along with all the emotional scars that he carries with him because unlike our physical wounds, the emotional ones can have a much more lasting impact on us.
He is not alone in this and as Matthew can attest to, it takes time and effort to start healing from our emotional scars, one step at a time. Being vulnerable enough to share his story with the world and giving hope to others like himself who battle these very scary and often lonely demons of drug and alcohol abuse was definitely a great first step forward.
We all carry emotional scars with us. These scars allow for an opportunity to grow and learn and find purpose and strength. We don’t have to allow them to define us but they certainly tell a piece of our story; the piece most worth fighting for that is. One part of Matthew’s memoir that really stood out for me happened when he recalls a conversation he had with fellow actor and mentor Martin Sheen while in the throes of his addiction battle. This brief dialog exchange may seem so insignificant to someone who has never really struggled with a mental illness before and although the dialog was summed up in one very short paragraph it still left a very powerful and lasting impact on me in relation to my own personal journey and the emotional wounds I bare yet somehow I continue to fight like hell to find the strength to fight for my life each and every day.
Martin turns to Matthew, knowing how much he needed to hear these words and said,
“Do you know what St. Peter says to everyone who tries to get into heaven?” “Peter says, ‘Don’t you have any scars?’ Knowing that most would respond proudly, ‘Well, no, no I don’t.’ Peter says, ‘Why not? Was there nothing worth fighting for?'”
*If you or someone you love is battling an addiction please know there is help available.
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