A lot of this was very relatable, especially how you were drawn in to mass media! You make wonderful points about rejecting shame and want-based love. As someone who has also been fiercely independent for most of her life, I would like to share just one thing - the ‘expectation’ in worshipping idols you speak of could be a self imposed notion. I urge you to explore if it truly is 100% irrational to have a habit of discipline like praying or meditation in front of an idol. In the quest to not be put in a box, I hope you don’t face the bigger fallout of losing a shot at spiritual connection. Being truly independent, I learned this year, is when you can be ‘emotionally alone’. This is something you may have dealt with in your own way. I had the opportunity to learn this the hard way (the best way!) during these years far, far away from my homes.
Spirituality is truly the most generous gift of Indian culture, if you can extricate it from ties to patriarchy, blind tradition and whatever else.
All the best with everything!