Being born into a fundamentalist religion is like being born with your leg in a trap. You are afforded only two options – slowly suffer and die, or greatly injure yourself escaping. There is no damage-free way forward.
Being born into religion is “damned if you do and damned if you don’t” in perhaps the truest form. Sure, technically you can leave anytime – but you will have to gnaw your leg off first. Or you can stay – keeping your body intact, never undertaking the unthinkable – but forever unable to live as you were created to; not really living at all, but deteriorating and dying.
Staying is less acutely painful. If you don’t move much, sometimes you can barely feel the hard, cold clamp on your leg. You can almost ignore the persistent throbbing. You are a prisoner with a narrow existence, but by staying you don’t have to make any choices. You can even convince yourself you have no choices. This is how you must live – God has decreed it.
Or you can lose your leg, excruciatingly – but then you are free. Maimed, and not who you once were, but free. The prize is grand if only you can maintain the resolve to stay the course and endure the mind-fuck of self-mutilation for the sake of saving your own life.
But everything is not suddenly okay at the moment of escape. The way forward will not be as pleasant or peaceful for you as for one who had not been born in a trap. Those who were lucky to be born free may walk with healthy legs throughout their lives, effortlessly frolicking where they please. They know not the torment of counter-intuitively cutting away a part of yourself you never should have had to lose. They have never fought your battle between body and mind all while keeping faith in something you’ve never experienced.
The healing journey is long and you’ll never be “normal”. Legs don’t grow back. PTSD has no true cure. But you will come away with treasures the freeborn will never own – proof of your power, wisdom worthy of a shaman, faith in your own divinity, and a mystical calling you’ve never been able to ignore.