When I was small, I wanted to grow up and be a knight. I wanted to carry a sword and protect the weak. I wanted to have adventures, to build willow withe huts in the depths of the forest and to storm castle gates. I wanted to ride dragons, cross deserts, and hunt the white stag to win a wish. I wanted to break down dungeon doors and carry innocent prisoners to freedom.
When I was small I was told--blatantly in some cases, subtly in others--that girls did not do these things. Girls were not supposed to do these things. In fact, the ideology seemed to suggest, girls who did these things were somehow wrong. Unnatural. To be pitied, and even feared.
My family was certainly conservative and--although they did not follow the ideals of the Christian Patriarchy movement or the other movements that permeate the Christian homeschool community as religiously as some--the ideas nevertheless seeped into me. There were nights whenI cried into my pillows, asking God why he made me with such a thirst for adventure and a passion for justice and put me in a woman's body (never did I wonder why my body had anything to do with my role in life in the first place).
I crushed my fighting spirit, beat my desire for change into submission, and tried to conform my unruly wanderlust to the pigeonhole of "biblical womanhood". Outwardly, I made it work. I was already beginning to feel alienated from the homeschool crowd as I moved into junior high, but that was the only crowd I had. I made it work, even though I was miserable. There were a lot of things that brought me to severe depression in my last few years of high school and my first few of college (genetic predisposition being a major factor), but the fact that I was in all facets of my being living a lie did not help at all.
There was one place though, one place where I was safe being the hero, one place where I could be a woman and warrior and not be ashamed of it. That was where I waged my ballpoint rebellion. I fought with stories. I fought with vibrant, violent heroines, system smashing girls who carried swords, slew tyrants, smoked and swore and saved the day. I kept the person I wanted to be alive in words until the day I felt brave enough to let her out.
I chalk up my fairly easy acceptance of my homosexuality and painless (for me) break with Christianity to the freedom I had in these stories. They were more than stories, they were the world as I wanted it to be. My swordwielding ladies were more than characters, they were images of the me I wanted to become. When my courage caught up with my heart, I loosed the lioness.
Words are powerful, sometimes in very unexpected ways.