Heroes are forged in fire.
When it comes to comic book heroes I’m proud to be a geek and a nerd. I grew up when we were supposed to grow up, and move away from those ‘childish’ things. I never did. I love heroes, always have and I was into them way before it was cool.
Heroes and superheroes are now mainstream and we are now immersed in these worlds of heroes, stories of men and women who are different, have been altered or have just had enough. There there morality tales of today. They demonstrate and attitude towards humanity. Characteristics that we can and (dare I say it) should aspire to.
What I love about heroes is that they’re flawed characters. People damaged by life’s experiences that inevitably lead them on to being better people. Almost all heroes we watch on the screen have their origin based in a traumatic event or accident.
Bruce Wayne, traumatised by the murder of his parents in front of him, dons cape and cowl in order to exact revenge on crime, Clark Kent’s planet destroyed and the death of his surrogate father lead him to his cape and a desire to live up to his fathers simple ideals of truth and justice. Peter Parker, after gaining his super powers only changes his direction after the death of his uncle Ben. Bruce Banner whose experiments killed his love, Tony Stark seeks redemption in the realisation of the endless death Stark industries have caused, Even Captain America, as Steve Rogers was bullied standing up for others before he got the serum that enhanced him physically. They all have that thing in common. Something happened, something traumatised and changed them and led them to a path where they decided to make a difference, to stand and fight.
Of course all these heroes would benefit from a good amount of therapy, their choice of mask and cape is also an interesting parallel of how we wear masks every day. Masks can be useful, they can be a coping strategy, like armour or a shield and are galvanised into the resilience we need to overcome a difficulty or obstacle in life. There are situations where we have to wear these masks, when I deliver training, sometimes I don my mask if I’m not feeling particularly well, or a little lack lustre. This gets me through the training and ensures that participants get the benefit of the content. Sometimes in the past I wore masks to survive. The only way I could cope with the world I was in at the time. However it’s at times like this when you can become so immersed in your life that the mask becomes a part of you. This can be detrimental as it closes you off from your true self.
O ne of the benefits of counselling is to help the client to remove the masks from which they have become trapped. I slowly had my mask peeled away, it’s often referred to as peeling away the layers of an onion to reveal the true self.
My role in the counselling room is to help people sift through their lives and their reality to find what works, and what doesn’t work, sometimes I find myself faced with a mask, a mask that has kept someone safe for many years and yet now the time has come for them to reveal their true self, sometimes to me, but mainly to themselves. It is in this unmasking that they find their own hero, the person that has coped with so much and held it together for so long, it is here that sometimes they find that what they felt was their weakness, is actually their strength and with this new found knowledge they can go and do even greater things.
all of us are forged in fire. What we do in our lives can help shape who we become, drive us to rise up and face life head on on. Sometimes we wear masks to hide our hurt, and sometimes just to face the day. How we face life, meet others, offer help, a friendly smile to a stranger, letting someone ahead of you in the supermarket queue, is what makes us heroes.
We can all be heroes, most of us already are, we’re just looking for opportunities to use our superpowers, kindness, compassion, tolerance and understanding. Finding little ways to demonstrate them is the challenge that we face. However, learning to harness and recognise our superpower, and live with our pain is a process that takes time.
As Bowie said, “We can be heroes, just for one day”
A Thirsk Counsellor