2 April 2024

An ode to two orbs of light

Content note: this piece contains brief mentions of misgendering and family abuse 


“I wish everyone could just be orbs of light. No physical bodies, but we’d get to pick what colour our light was”. Me, aged 5, having crafted the most accurate description of my gender, identity and self. 


I knew gender wasn’t real before I even began school, though slowly I learnt I had to keep that to myself. People weren’t ready for it, clearly. I longed for “adulthood” when I could rid myself of all the things I had to pretend I didn’t know for the sake of everyone else. I could finally be the me I had been denying myself for all these years for everyone else’s comfort.  


I turned 18 and things didn’t magically become easier. The magic carriage didn’t turn back into the pumpkin. I was in hospital, and to commemorate this mystical day of adulthood, I overheard a fellow nurse tell a patient “she’s making life miserable for everyone, and yes, she’s a she”. Apparently, I was the she in question, devastating everyone by daring to ask to not be misgendered. It felt like walking off stage, ready to undress, but my actual clothes were replaced by another costume. The adult my little self needed me to become didn’t have the power to be that.  


Then I met him. A modern meet-cute thanks to a Bumble glitch that showed us each other’s profiles despite being outside of our area ranges. At the time, we were both they/them-s, and already, not having to explain that was a relief.  


I didn’t have to tell him about my orb of light, because he had one too.  


Being safe and warm and embraced in an expansive and never-ending space of trust led us both to realise there was even more to our orbs than we had thought before. “Have you ever thought about changing your pronouns, maybe to include he?” I blurted to him. “I’ve actually been wanting to bring that up with you… how did you know?”. A few months later we had a similar conversation about his name. He’d been thinking about it but hadn’t said anything. I had a feeling that just turned itself into words. 


The relief of us both not having to explain the *trans thing*, continued to evolve. It became like being in the deepest part of the ocean, no light to be found, and yet seeing everything clearly. Each bacteria cell, each tiny movement, each heartbeat from a critter, was immediately clear to me. More than that, he could see every part of me, every ray of light shining from my orb, without me needing to say anything. The coldness and tiredness I was used to was replaced by warmth and alertness. 


The understanding he and I have of each other is more than just science. I’m sure there is something scientific that explains how two autistic trans people falling in love makes perfect sense, but it is more than that. Each time I made myself smaller, a part of my light broke off and drifted into the distance. But with him, I challenge myself to take up the space. He watches and stands in front of me, his hands behind his back, ready to reveal the bouquet of light and colour and joy that I thought I’d lost. 


Other people don’t feel this. Sometimes that makes me sad, because this is just about the greatest feeling I can possibly imagine. Sometimes it makes me happy, knowing that I get this glorious, insurmountably beautiful thing and I don’t have to share it. But most of the time, I don’t even think about that, because I don’t need to. Our love is about no one, but us, even if they might be the people that created the wounds that were healed by our love.  


I am still unlearning my knee-jerk reaction to the word family. Even reading the word sometimes makes me clench my jaw, grind my teeth, ball my fists. Families are something we never consented to being a part of, and yet, they are supposedly the most important thing of all. It is this rhetoric, perpetuated, not only by our world, but my very own ‘family’ that created and fed the guilt inside me for validly resenting them for the abuse I endured. Each time a member of my ‘family’ would say “I love you”, something deep inside me would grab the words from mid-air, gobble them down and give me a stomach ache. 


And then, I found actual family. Me, him and the cats. Whenever there was pain, bright orange beams of love and warmth came towards us from each other via the strands of wool that connected us. It became more than just love between me and each of them, but a love between, and for, the four of us. I used to think that no one would ever be able to see how special each of my cats were, and I was okay with that. But then he came along, saw them and me for everything we are and it surged light and energy through us all. We are family, I know it to be true.  


When I was 6, for Book Week, I dressed up as “a ladybug on the ground of a forest in a princess book”. Nobody got it, but that was the closest I could get to seeing myself in those stories, a little bug, drawn for visual effect. As a child, to survive, I hid myself, at least from everyone else. I clung to little moments of selfhood, when I was entirely alone, unperceived. Those moments were sacred, yet somehow, something I knew I must keep to myself.  


Now though, waking up each morning, and looking over to him, seeing another orb emitting as much light as I do, I am reminded I must be me as brightly as possible. 

 Written by Is Hay (they/he)- LGBTQ+ community member


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