The death of Matthew Perry has been a shock to all of us.
Most of my social feeds have been flooded with memories of “Friends” episodes with our favorite Chandler Bing moments; he was there for us when we needed him most.
Since the first time I watched the show (admittedly, much later than most), Chandler has been my favorite. His wit and sharp tongue is something I can relate to, as it’s the defense mechanism I tend to use too—one that Matthew Perry also used throughout his life.
As a fellow Leo, I can relate to his need to be seen, and having a sense of humor was one of those things that allowed him (and me) to be seen.
Today, I want to see him more deeply and shed light on the part of him that inspires me the most—the part of him that he wanted to be remembered for.
The part of him which I so deeply resonate with (his suffering) and more importantly his recovery which led to helping others—which wouldn’t be so possible without the suffering in the first place.
Since his death, I’ve been reflecting on my own journey with addiction as I read his memoir Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing for the first time.
Like Matthew Perry, I started drinking when I was 14 years old.
Like Matthew Perry, I learned to drink to feel normal.
And drinking quickly became normal.
Matthew describes in his book, “it took away so much of the pain, including the fact that I was alone, I was lonely, and that when I was with people, I was lonely, too.”
When I drank, I felt like I belonged. I felt as though I finally fit in this world. Everything made sense when I drank. I felt lighter, accepted, and whole.
He said it so perfectly when he wrote about his first drink, “I realized that for the first time in my life, nothing bothered me. The world made sense; it wasn’t bent and crazy.”
That was exactly how I felt at 14 years old when I had my first drink.
I had my last drink 1,332 days ago—something I never thought I would hear myself say.
It’s something I haven’t talked about because I didn’t feel it was important. I felt as though it was “too easy” for me to stop, so I didn’t deserve to be proud. I diminished my hard work, determination, and my pain, brushing it off like it wasn’t a big deal to be sober for the first time in almost 15 years.
I want to share my story, but I never share it because I feel as though it’s not worth telling. The words don’t come out, and I just end up staring at a blank page with a blinking cursor, not even knowing where to start.
My face feels flush, my heart pounds in my chest, and I lose all of the words before they reach the tip of my tongue, or my fingertips.
Even as I write this, I’m battling with whether or not to share it. It’s been sitting unfinished, in my Google Docs, where I come back to it every day and add some new words to try and make it perfect.
Sometimes I feel as though my story is less than because it sounds more mild than many others, Matthew’s included.
But maybe that’s because I live my story; it’s my life, so it doesn’t feel so big to me because it just is.
Maybe my story is perfect—because it’s mine.
Since that day, 1332 days ago, I’ve been to countless therapy sessions, learned astrology (and learned more about myself in the process), started a business, entered what I call my “first healthy relationship,” helped heal my relationship with some loved ones, and so much more. All of which I hope to share more about, along with the ugly parts.
Much of Matthew’s story, outlined in his memoir, hits me deeply. From his childhood where he described himself as a “lonely child” and the one on the outside looking in, to his first drink and how it made him feel, all the way to his relationships and how he pushed people away because of a fear of abandonment.
It goes to show that trauma is trauma, no matter how big or small; our childhood pain plays out in our future in one way or another, and for Matthew, me, and many others, it plays out in the form of addiction.
I’m blown away by how I feel as I read his words, wondering how I could possibly be seeing so much of myself in him.
Our stories are so alike, and yet so different.
His words make me feel less alone in my journey, and they inspire me to do better—to share my words in hopes to inspire others as well.
This is the gift of a Leo in their power—no longer worrying about what others think, forging their own path, fuelling their light from within instead of relying on outside recognition for validation.
And most importantly, inspiring others through sharing their own life experiences.
I mean…could it be any more perfect?
It wasn’t a pretty journey for him; it’s not a pretty journey for anyone.
It’s messy, ugly, dark, and throughout the journey we do things we may wish we never did.
The perfection is in the willingness to share it.
To be open, raw, and vulnerable.
That’s what makes it perfect.
Matthew Perry is such an inspiration to me and so many others who have struggled with this problem. He has shown me that I am worthy of telling my story, of living my truth, and of being me.
Pain and all.
No matter how messy.
Because without those experiences I wouldn’t be who I am today.
I wouldn’t be able to help others.
So thank you, Matthew, for the reminder that addiction is f*cking hard, and that sobriety is the most rewarding path to be on.
Thank you for everyone you’ve helped and will continue to help through your passing as we continue to keep your memory alive through the work you’ve done for those who suffer this dreaded disease.
This is the Matthew Perry I will remember.
And if you’re on this journey, know someone who is, or are curious about sober living, I’m proud of you.
You are important, and your story is something that nobody can ever take from you.