I found Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing depressing, jaded, and one of the most powerful memoirs I have read written by an addict. (For a comparison click here.) Perhaps a paradox, but nevertheless true. But some background is needed on my perspective. I never saw the series Friends during its’ initial run. Not a single episode.
The show debuted in the fall of 1994. I had lost two immediate family members in just six months, had three young kids and was teaching twelve credits at a local community college. Television was not part of my vocabulary.
By the time the series ended in 2004, I had an additional child and the two oldest were in high school. My relaxation came in the written form while soaking in a tub full of bubble bath. But, during the isolation of Covid-19, I began to watch re-runs and the cast of Friends was incredible. Including Matthew Perry.
Big Terrible Thing
However, I have not seen enough episodes to pick up on his constant battle with addiction. So, the memoir was disturbing and a bit depressing. The author at times came off as jaded. But his ending message is powerful. Addiction has destroyed his body. He is fortunate more relationships were not ruined.
Names are dropped, but I would not classify Perry as a name dropper. On occasion he with holds an identity. But the message is still the same. His ongoing battle with addiction has interfered with his happiness. And with most long-term female relationships. It was troubling.
The big terrible thing in my opinion is how close to the edge his life will always be. I feel for anyone faced with this disease. And I am firmly in the camp that believes it is a disease.
Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing is a difficult read. A cursory look reflects an artificial comic. One gets the feeling that for most of his life Perry was an “all about me” person. The tragedy lies in the hidden demons. And at some point, blame needs to fall within. The past is the past. Perry alludes to this. Even acknowledges how his parents always stuck by him- even though he blames his upbringing for his insecurities.
The book is a powerful look at dealing with the demons within. It is written to help those who struggle. And to offer an explanation to those who are on the outside looking in. I don’t know if it will help with the former, but it succeeds with the latter. Unfortunately, addiction cannot be solved by outsiders. Only the individual afflicted can beat the curse. It is my sincere hope Mr. Perry, and all other addicts can overcome their internal enslavement.