I'm not saying I'm Captain Marvel, but...
*** CAPTAIN MARVEL SPOILERS ***
I’m not much of a superhero person; in fact, I’m not much of a movie person in general. This week, however, I watched Captain Marvel and found myself moved to tears.
Carol’s journey resonates deeply in my body because our paths have been all too similar.
She woke up with no memories and found herself being forced to assimilate to a strange culture. I was born into evangelicalism and indoctrinated from birth.
She was told that her power came from an invisible supreme intelligence and could be taken away as easily as it was given; her entire purpose was to serve at the will of this being. I was told that any good deeds or accomplishments I achieve in life are all due to an invisible deity; my entire life purpose was to serve at the will of God.
Carol was taught that she had to suppress her emotions and learn to control them in order to correctly wield the power she had been given — otherwise, she risked destroying herself and others. I was taught that I must suppress my emotions and distrust my body in order to correctly fulfill my purpose in life — otherwise, I risked my own soul and the souls of others.
We were both taught lies in order to further a political agenda and oppress others.
I’ve been fighting with one arm tied behind my back, but what happens when I’m finally set free?
Carol realizes that the source of her power isn’t the supreme intelligence — it’s her. She won’t lose her power by rebelling against the system; in fact, she only becomes more powerful. Those who taught her to suppress her emotions were attempting to control what they feared, but rediscovering her authentic self allowed Carol to truly embody the power that was always there.
I have also come to realize that I am powerful. My emotions are not meant to be suppressed, and they are not wicked. I can and should trust myself. My power doesn’t come from the charitable leftovers of an invisible deity; it comes from within. The more time I spend listening to my body and validating my desires, the more authentic and free I am.
I have nothing to prove to you.
Carol decisively told her abuser that she has nothing to prove to him. He tried — and failed — to bait her into fighting on his terms by relying on the fact that he had conditioned her to crave his approval. I have had to come to terms with the fact that nothing I do will ever be enough to prove myself to certain people from my past. In order to even engage with their arguments, I have to re-enter a space that I have long since left behind. I will never prove anything by lowering myself to their standards, so I’ve had to learn to accept that I have nothing to prove to them.
Higher, further, faster, baby.
There is a moment when Carol discovers she can fly where, between rounds of fighting off enemies, she laughs and lets out an exhilarated scream. Despite the danger, despite the terror literally staring her in the face, Carol feels immense joy in discovering new facets of her authentic self. She takes pleasure in realizing that her power extends far beyond her wildest dreams in spite of the danger she must face. I felt limitless just watching her.
While I unfortunately can’t fly, I was reminded that my power is greater than I’ve ever been told. Despite the new challenges and dangers that embracing my authentic self will bring into my life, it is exhilarating to become the person I’m meant to be. I am capable of facing my fears and defeating the systems and ideologies that attempt to control me.