The shape of my love is the shape of my heart and the shape of my heart is an approximation of a heart because it has been shaped by my history. I am the ways I have been loved and the ways I have not been loved. That was the love my heart could give, was trained to give, and if I want it to be different I must learn my history so I can see the mould and break it.
When I was growing up I learned to see the pain of others and to feel compassion and offer empathy. I learned that the needs of others are important and my task is to accommodate those needs. I learned how to listen. I learned that in a world in which gay and queer were slurs that there were pieces of me that would never be seen. For decades I believed this and it wasn’t that I thought these pieces would never be seen it was that I couldn’t even imagine what it might be like if they were. Those around me were comfortable with this and it pleased them. I liked pleasing people, it helped me to feel liked and to feel like I belonged. For a long time I assumed my heart was heart shaped and I was told it was because we, all of us, had grown accustomed to lacking a valve or two. I was dutiful to patriarchy – to its assumptions of gender binary and its glorification of heteronormativity. I laboured hard to belong because it was in this world that I was given love.
I say I laboured but, really, it was an unpaid internship, if that, and my line manager was ignorant and her manager was prejudiced and the business model was bankrupt. So now I do the only thing I can – quit. I cannot accommodate the pains of patriarchy and I will not be dutiful to the cis-tem and the heteronorm. I have to protect my heart, which is learning to pump new blood into valves which are opening for the first time. The mould in which my heart was set was too small. It was warped. The history in which I grew up was not mine. I will rewrite this history so my heart can be the shape of one and I can love properly. I will start by loving me.