Jack sat in his box on an impossibly high shelf; out of bounds of the working class, middle class, wealthy and the dregs of society. He wasn't above them or beneath them, but was forgotten. There was no defined place for a man with quirks; quirks which meant he couldn't interact or hold down a regular job. But Jack being a gentle and contented soul made the best of what he was and didn't mind being on the periphery.
a young man, Jack had never felt he was 'all wrong' as he'd been told
and put what skills he had to good use; made up for what people said
were his inadequacies. He worked in spurts: six months repairing
bicycles, three months in a bakery, two months loading and unloading
stock in a warehouse, and a month of Saturdays delivering newspapers,
and between each job he took a break for the world he found himself
in taxed him. He had to concentrate ten times more than the average
person or he'd misread its cues. It was exhausting!
thought him odd and avoided engaging with him, but while this hurt,
it released him from trying to be what he knew he could never be: a
fully integrated member of society. He would never work like that and
preferred to be a part-timer: there, but only sometimes seen. And it
was comforting to have his box, at all times, around him.
when Jack was 46, everything changed...
given a brand new box, a new label, and was moved to a lower shelf,
which brought him closer to 'normal' people. There, he found others
who had for many years coped with life like him. Some were ecstatic
at this new positioning, some were cross at being newly labelled, and
some were still processing the fact that what they thought was normal
functioning had been wrong.
everyone wanted in: to say they had this, had that, which was why
they couldn't do such and such and which explained their inability or
unwillingness to be social. Quirks were no longer just that, they had
deeper reasons and were strategic mechanisms.
hated his new box because instead of reassuring him, it made him feel
more vulnerable. When he tried to engage, people automatically made
assumptions and therefore didn't treat him as equal. What's more the
new spectrum was so broad, everyone presented symptoms or tried to
prescribe them to other people. Yet again, differentness was being
lost and not being valued.
many people picking their boxes and placing themselves on this
sliding personality and behavioural scale, Jack mourned the loss of
his uniqueness. He had been robbed of what he had seen as his traits
and twitches. And although, he shied away from saying the magic word,
(the term of his diagnosis), somehow his likes/dislikes were
accounted for and his needs were accommodated. But instead of feeling
functioning, Jack felt more disordered.
determined that he would abandon this classified box that said
ensconced in here you can be you, and left the lower shelf he'd been
moved to and where he was told he must sit. Relief surged through him
as he ripped off the label so recently given him.
always known who and what he was; he didn't need a box or a label for
society to recognise or accept him. If Jack ever went back in his
box, it would be one of his own making.