We Could Be Heroes

I’ve decided to upgrade; the title from this one is a Bowie lyric rather than Britney Spears. I hope you appreciate that.

Most of the time when I’m writing these entries, I’m trying to illustrate my personal opinion on a certain aspect of sobriety, maybe trying to explain something that I feel I understand fairly well to people who haven’t experienced the things I have, or haven’t experienced them in the same way. This entry will be a little different, but I hope you’ll find it interesting, because I plan to examine a hero’s story: yours.

As your standard single guy in his 30s, I both own a lot of and know a lot about comic books. Some people find this to be a childish endeavor, but often the stories are as complex as any novel, the art comparable to anything you’d find in a modern gallery and the characters as well defined and complicated as anything you can find in the standard Hollywood film.

The general premise of any comic book revolves around the hero: where they came from, how they became what they are, and the conflicts they face both within themselves and against the villain. It’s also important, in comics, to define why the hero is a hero: what is it about this person that makes them want to achieve supernatural efforts? Why are they so special?

The villains in most comic books are generally just as complex; they have distinct personalities beyond their abilities and appearances, and often have detailed motives for doing the things that they do.

The story of most comic books begins with the hero’s origin, their introduction to the villain, illustrates the inevitable conflict between the two, and ends with a resolution in which the hero is eventually the victor – or in some cases, sacrifice themselves to prevent the villain from achieving their nefarious goal.

And that, my friends, is how we’re the heroes of this story. You see, we all have our own origin stories: how we came to be alcoholics, the troubles that resulted from our disease, and how we found ourselves in AA as a way to manage our disease and mitigate the damage it could do to our lives – as well as make amends for the things we’d done in the past. We find ourselves on the classic hero’s journey, knowing the steps we need to take to achieve our goals and overcoming their related obstacles.

The villain in this story, of course, is our addiction. It’s more complex than simply stating that “alcohol” is the proverbial bad guy here, because the comic book rules say that we need our villains to be complex. It isn’t just the alcohol, but the reason we craved it, the regrets and mistakes we made under its influence.

The conflict, then, would be our quest for sobriety. As the hero of the story, our ultimate goal is to obtain and maintain sobriety, doing whatever it takes to achieve that goal. The villain of the story will attempt to thwart us at every turn, the insidious nature of addiction nagging at our convictions and morals, the temptation of just one drink always at odds with our goals.

So, there you have it. A brief tutorial on writing comic books as well as a fairly decent composition on comics as a metaphor for our desire to abstain from alcohol. It’s important to note that this metaphorical scenario, of course, does have its limitations. As said well in a film that is just about as concerned with comic books as I am, things happen in life and sobriety that are often unexpected and difficult.

…this part won’t be like a comic book. Real life doesn’t fit into little boxes that were drawn for it.

Sobriety can be tough, and it often isn’t fun. But the villain is clear, the conflict is clear, and the hero is obvious: it’s you.


  1. ✝️ Keith F

    I really enjoyed this article and the comic book as metaphor for the journey. It makes it feel more like an adventure or even an epic tale than just a daily struggle to not take that first drink. I think of Pilgrims Progress and even the Lord of the Rings when I think of a hero on a quest. Your final analysis is especially true though points out the unexpected and even trivial when you said, “Real life doesn’t fit into little boxes that were drawn for it.” For me, that’s realizing that it isn’t all fanfare and excitement. Most of the time, it’s a matter of doing the things that people don’t see or write about. The little, daily monotonous things. I think that this is why the Big Book says, trudge the road of happy destiny”. Trudging is never easy or fun. But it is necessary and all the real heroes do the hard stuff that nobody really sees or cares to hear about. Thanks for reminding me that it is all worth it.

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