How Fighting Addiction is Like the One Good Part of Superman III
There was only one good scene in Superman III. I mean, yes, it was fun watching a miscast Richard Pryor rant while coked to the gills and, hey, cyborg lady; but there is only one actual, solid scene. It’s the scene where Clark Kent, having recently removed the Superman part of himself, fights the Superman that was left after all the humanity was removed.
And, upon reflection, this scene encompasses exactly what it feels like to fight an addiction. You see, many addicts, myself included, ran around with said addiction for years without much trouble. Yes, friendships were ended and relationships strained, but we always had our demons to hang out with. Then some day, it goes too far, and we freak. We try to remove it from ourselves completely, ignore it, only to fail because somehow its desires become that much stronger and tempting.
Eventually, we have to come face to face with it, grapple with it in a junkyard like a mortal Clark Kent facing a God-like Superman. Yes, the addiction very often compels us stronger than the moral compass we have. The struggle is great and terrible. Both us and our demon end up bloodied and exhausted. The problem is, no matter how hard you try, you can’t kill it and, as long as you fight it, it can’t kill you. So you end up in a stalemate.
The beautiful part of the scene in Superman III is that, in the end, Clark Kent doesn’t end up with a complete victory. What he ends up doing is embracing his Superman side and transforming it, making himself whole in the process. And, honestly, that’s what fighting addiction is like. You can’t keep attacking it forcefully, at some point you have to embrace your addiction, accept it as part of yourself, and make yourself whole by knowing it is part of you. You don’t have to give into it, or feed it. You only have to accept it as a piece of the whole that cannot be killed off. In that way our addictions make us stronger after we begin to recover from them: we survived them, we embraced them, and we walked away wiser and mightier.