My son likes Batman. And by “like” I mean OBSESSED. Every morning, he wakes up, climbs out of his Bat-bed with the Bat-sheets and the Bat-blanket over his Bat-cave, collects his Bat-mask and Bat-cape from their hooks, leaves his Bat-room to eat Bat-shaped peanut butter sandwiches and begin his Bat-day. One time I took a mental inventory to see how I felt about this obsession. And I decided that I liked that Batman doesn’t rely on super human strength or powers. He relies on ingenuity and inventions (and huge amounts of inherited money).
And here is the beauty of super heroes that don’t rely on super human abilities: they are just like you and me.
When I was young, I tried to prove my self by proving that I did indeed have, well, super powers. It wasn’t enough for me to succeed, I needed to conquer overwhelming odds AND succeed (Pandora: How young are we talking? I thought you meant four years old! At four, I thought if I drank the dregs of my nightly glass of water, it would give me powers too, but I think you are taking this in a different direction. Emily: Ah. Well. I wasn’t four. It was roughly 18-24.) If normal people could accomplish the workload I had, then I could do it – with no food. Or sleep.
I had an eating disorder. I was anorexic. I tried to find control and stability in my life through food. Or, no food. I strove for superhuman strength to control my life and make sense of my life.
Today I have a “normal” relationship with food. (Who knows what normal really is, though?) (Pandora: We should watch the movie “Eating.” It’s just interviews with women at parties about how they feel about food. Emily: Ack. That sounds miserable.) But if you ask any therapist (and I have asked many), eating disorders never really go away. (Pandora: I always wondered that too) They may go in remission, or they may take a different form. I have learned to manage my eating issues, and that there are better ways to exert control in my life. There are healthier options to be a super hero. Superman, with his super strength, super eyesight, super hair, super flying skills, and inability to be injured (aside from kryptonite), is a fantasy. (Pandora: He DOES have super hair!) No one can ever be Superman. Ever. Regardless how hard they may try. Trust me. I know from experience. (Pandora: Except for the hair, you have super hair. Emily: Thank you. Purple hair IS pretty super.)
Batman, on the other hand, is human. He gets hurt. He is depressed. He is sad. He is conflicted about not killing anyone, but striving to bring order to the chaos. But Batman always wins. Because he has figured out the secret to being super: he controls his emotions, his rage, and his pain. He surrounds himself with people that help him when he is down. (Robin really is the best sidekick ever, and come on, who doesn’t want an Alfred in their life???) (Pandora: Can I have a Robin AND an Alfred? My husband does not fulfill either of those roles to my satisfaction)
For me, this means constantly monitoring my emotional well being. It often means medication. And it always means being honest with my closest circle of friends. The ones that know that under the mask, it’s just Emily. So, I’ve decided to hang up my Superwoman cape, and put on the Batwoman cape instead. (Pandora: Doesn’t everyone agree there needs to be a female action hero flick?!? Emily: Umm, yeah. But until then, I will just subvert the traditional masculine superheroes. But female superheroes may be fodder for a future blog.)
Besides, Batman has the Best. Car. Ever.