‘The cheese stands alone’ ~ (a neurodivergent paradox)

“The Farmer in the Dell” is a children’s song, usually sung in unison, in nursery or elementary/primary school.

We sang it in music class, while the teacher played the piano.

The kids would form a circle, holding hands, with one person in the middle (usually male); he was “The Farmer”.  With each verse, another student was chosen to join the one(s) in the middle.

There are several versions of this song; the (North) American version goes like this…

“The farmer in the dell (2x)
Hi-ho, the derry-o
The farmer in the dell

“The farmer takes a wife (2×)
Hi-ho, the derry-o…
The farmer takes a wife

“The wife takes the child (2×)
Hi-ho, the derry-o…
The wife takes the child

“The child takes the nurse (2×)
Hi-ho, the derry-o…
The child takes the nurse

“The nurse takes the cow (2×)
Hi-ho, the derry-o…
The nurse takes the cow

“The cow takes the dog (2×)
Hi-ho, the derry-o…
The cow takes the dog

“The dog takes the cat (2×)
Hi-ho, the derry-o…
The dog takes the cat

“The cat takes the mouse (or rat) (2×)
Hi-ho, the derry-o…
The cat takes the mouse(or rat)

“The mouse (or rat) takes the cheese (2×)
Hi-ho, the derry-o…
The mouse (or rat) takes the cheese”

And then, I would be picked to be the cheese, after which everyone else would disperse from the center and re-form the circle, while they clapped in time to the music and sang the final verse:

“The cheese stands alone (2×)
Hi-ho, the derry-o…
The cheese stands alone”

I was always “The Cheese”.  I never got picked to be anything else.  It wasn’t exactly done in the spirit of “saving the best for last”, either.  It seemed as though the other kids salivated over the opportunity to isolate, surround, and humiliate me.  How convenient that the final verse was punctuated with clapping; apparently in time to the song, they could raise the intensity of the moment.

And the whole thing was teacher-sanctioned.  Maybe she was oblivious to the other kids’ deeper intention?  Or, maybe she even agreed with them.  Thirty years later, who knows?

But thirty years later, the scar remains.

The “scar” isn’t all that big.  But it exists.

Eventually, a complete reversal took place: I voluntarily became a “Cheese” of my own.

I’m not in the middle of the circle, getting clapped at and laughed at anymore.

But over the past 15 years or so, I have elected to remain separate from the world at large.

The big question is, why?  Was my choice a voluntary self-isolation, or merely one of exclusion (i.e. no other options) and resignation?  Is that segregation what I actually, genuinely desire, or have I simply given up?

I think it might be a little of both…

On the one hand, I tried so hard to fit in.  I thought it would be fun.  I wanted to belong.  I wanted to be part of something.

After many years, I realized that “fitting in” isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.

There was a lot of stress involved.

I still sensed a stubborn, invisible barrier between myself and the other kids.  No matter how hard I tried, I never did truly Belong.  I was never completely successful at becoming a Part of Something.

Something inside me must have reached its limit, shrugged its shoulders, and said, “screw ’em”.

That’s not what I wanted to hear.  Especially not from myself.  But it was indeed the reality.

I now know that that Invisible Barrier was–and is–my Asperger’s neurotype.  I also know why it was so stubborn, so difficult to scale, so impossible to ignore: Asperger’s/autism doesn’t go away.

About 15 years ago, I gradually began to realize just how stressful “fitting in” was, even for those who are successful at it.  And once you’re “in”, it’s not like that’s all there is to it; you have to keep trying.  You have to stay on your toes.  You have to stay relevant.  Hell, you have to stay ahead of the curve.

Like I said: screw it.

Who needs seasonally-changing fashion trends when I’ve got biochemistry?  Who has time for hair and nails when I’m itching to go on a short road-trip?  Who needs headline news and other current events when I’ve got music?  Who needs politics when politicians don’t speak for me anyway?

The world at large–and the normal priorities and values thereof–is largely irrelevant to me.  I hold it in medium esteem, at best, on a good day.

I don’t want to be hounded.  I don’t want to be pressured.  I don’t want to be nagged.  I don’t want to be pestered.  I don’t want to feel judged.  I don’t want to be the bug under someone else’s microscope.  I don’t want to be measured by somebody else’s yardstick.  I don’t want to be held to some impossible and arbitrary standard.  Hell, I don’t even care which clothing is in style these days; it’s going to change within a few months, anyway.  And I’ve got better things to do.

I live my own life, a good distance off-the-(neurotypical)-grid.  And I like it that way.  Sure, it gets a little lonely sometimes, but I’d rather spend time alone than with the wrong people, only to end up having been drained of all my energy.  I don’t care to waste time talking about fluffy, empty topics.

I’m disgusted with superficiality.  And that’s OK.

I don’t know who got “kicked off the island last night”.  And that’s fine.

I have no clue what clothing colors are hitting the “fall season” shelves.  And I don’t give a shit.

I may not be “The Cheese” anymore.  But it’s OK to stand alone.  Especially if I’m holding my own.

(I prefer my view now (below).)

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24 Comments

    1. Lol 😊😊. Thank you for your comment, and the good laugh! ❤️ Believe it or not (you’ll probably chuckle) science, math, and I were not on speaking terms at all in junior/middle school or high school, either!! 😂😂. All of that came way later 💞💜

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Yes! All of this! Minus the biochem and adding in my own interests, of course 🙂 I also remember frequently being the cheese, all alone, during that song *sigh* But yeah, it’s really not a bad place to be. Doing the things we care about and not feeling pressured to do all that other “normal” stuff.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. My comment is also on my blog post: http://bit.ly/2dtdiE9

    I understand where you’re coming from. You, the cheese in the middle totally alone, with everyone joining hands around you. The alienation, seeing those around you joining hands, friends with one another, when you are totally alone in the centre. I can relate to that.

    The cheese stands alone. I mean, the song in itself emphasises the alienation and isolation you’d feel at school. It’s no wonder I represent school as a prison, when the schools promote songs and actions like this. Not to mention the intensity of the sound of clapping reverberating through your senses, initiating overload.

    To create a song that would end in isolating a child from the others, I couldn’t see how the teachers wouldn’t understand that, they should see children day in and day out. Surely in all that time they must have some inclination as to the harm they cause. For the teachers to agree with the other children, yes, I often wondered the same thing. To be honest, I really wouldn’t put it passed them. I can remember a time when I was 10 years old, stood up in front of the class and was humiliated by the teacher. In the same year, my mother went into the school and confronted the teacher. She told my mother that she would like to all of us children hung up on gibbets. To want us children to be tortured, hung on gibbets. What kind of a teacher would say such a thing? If she was allowed to become a teacher of children, it just goes to show you the standard on our educational system in the UK, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s the same for you in America. It reminds me of Pink Floyd’s song, Another Brick in the Wall, because with teachers like these, it’s not surprising.

    Personally, considering the words of that teacher I mentioned about the hanging on gibbets, and the song and actions you’ve just written about, I wonder whether it’s a twisted way of guiding the kids to single each other out, to target one another. It sounds like this is what these ‘schools’ want us to become. To cut each other from empathy and understanding, and instead gang up on one another. In that respect, sounds like social reconstruction, manipulating and controlling the future generations to become uncaring and unfeeling.

    I can remember similar activities such as duck duck go, you had to run around the outside of a circle and pick another person who then had to run around and tag someone else. In that respect, I didn’t even understand the concept, >..<;.

    Personally, I feel too alone, I don’t wish to be alone. I equally don’t want to write or talk to people that don’t understand where I’m coming from. The trouble is how do I know if someone truly understands or doesn’t if they are not being totally honest with me. Like my old Facebook friend, how was I to know that after she told me that she didn’t judge others on their disabilities that she would later come to blame my autism for taking the bullying I went through too seriously. These instances hurt me, but they only lead me to a greater emptiness inside. I wish to fill this emptiness, and I know the only way I can succeed is by finding a connection to someone that falls under the characteristics that I value. The understanding and acceptance of each other’s differences and difficulties and allowing us both to be ourselves around each other. These are important qualities to me, and what I need to find in another.

    You make some very interesting points in this post, it’s an interesting perspective to read these experiences from school life and the affects they have. School can leave a long lasting scar, I’m very much scarred myself, so I can relate to how these alienation experiences can affect us.

    I wish I had the conviction and resilience I get the impression of from your writing, you sound very strong, :).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much! It’s so relieving, liberating, and exciting to find people who TOTALLY get it! 🙂

      The conviction and resilience were developed over years and years – it wasn’t an overnight thing. You can totally do this, too! It’s a lot of gentle self-reminding, and the saying no, the declining/”opting-out”, etc, which is the hard part. The easy part is being able to look at the “typical” goings-on in the NT world and say, “I want to part of that”. One part that’s challenging at first is the picking and choosing of the parts of the NT world to join in with, and which to toss aside. It’s possible (and even fun!), but sometimes challenging.

      I must say that I had a big support system at my side – my partner is very much similarly-inclined, and we’re pretty compatible. So he has been a companion with which to “opt-out” and say “screw that” LOL 🙂

      You’re probably already similarly-convicted and “resilienced” 🙂 – just give yourself your due credit ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. for what its worth, cheese is as addictive as heroin. http://www.latimes.com/food/dailydish/la-dd-cheese-addictive-drugs-20151022-story.html

    thank you cheese sister, for saving me today. i fear ive taken a spoon or two from you, and i will do whatever i can to give it back. usually my approach is to run and hide for a little bit, to let the person recharge (thats you.) im just letting you know, in case you wonder if ive left to spite you. coudlnt be farther from that. ❤ and you can "call" me anyway.

    at least let me thank you profusely though. and tell you that cheese is one of the most wonderful things there is. the cheese is in a class all its own. its the stuff of royalty.

    you truly do stand alone– but not how they meant it. little bastards. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iSORhkKyTXE you stand alone because youre the best friend i have and one of the best people on earth. truth be told, there could be a day where i add to your stress. that would make me sad 😦 but either way i hope on balance, you feel cared for, because "nobody puts baby in a corner!" and you just shoot me if you dont get the reference ❤ take care. thank you so much ❤ ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hiya luv! 💖. No no please don’t hide – all is well! 😍❣. And yep, I got your reference immediately 😂👍🏼. It’s probably among my third tier of most commonly used references, but it’s familiar enough that I see what you did there 😉💜💚. Please stay around, my friend – as Oasis says, “don’t go away / say that you’ll stay / forever and a day” 💚💘

      Liked by 1 person

        1. In case you were wondering, I have all my spoons this morning 😊. And I had a few left over after the exam, too (if I hadn’t, I would’ve had to wait until today to delete the stuff) but it went off without a hitch, and I even had spoons left over after that 💖. “It’s all good” 😘💘

          Liked by 1 person

          1. so glad. ❤ personally, i think im going to start saying this to everyone i meet in town: (it goes on like that for 2 minutes, just turn it off when you get the picture.)

            Liked by 1 person

    1. Lol 😂. I’m actually a recovering dairy addict (no lie!) 💘. It hits the same brain receptors as opioids; I tested positive for “casomorphin”, the weird peptide behind this lol 😘. So yep, it’s definitely a Thing, and y’all are in plenty of company 🌷💓

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Ooh, you got the good stuff!! 👏🏼👏🏼😂😘❤️

          Oh my gosh, when I gave up dairy I seriously went through withdrawals (!) 😱🌺

          It was then that I remembered when I was a kid, I would get up in the middle of the night, hot, sweaty, dry mouth, and water wouldn’t help – only milk! I would gulp down literally a quarter gallon before I felt I could stop. It was only then that I could get back to sleep. 😂💞

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I used to get in so much trouble for drinking all the milk. I was lactose intolerant even and got acidophilus milk. I had to have my milk & cheese. People used to give me cheese as gifts. 😂 I wonder if there’s a 12 step for cheese? Nah, I wouldn’t go anyway

            Liked by 1 person

          2. Lol ❤️. Omg it took me 4 years not to salivate at the mere sight of a carton of milk! Lol 😂. A 12-step program would have come in very handy 💚💜

            Liked by 1 person

  4. Then there’s added costs of trying to ‘belong’ if you’re like us:

    1) bearing the whole responsibility – 100% – for any relationships you might be involved in. Forget reciprocation – it will not happen. You give, they take. Those are their rules, and they like it that way.

    1b) you dare not protest the unfairness of that one-way master-slave relationship. You’ll be cursed (or worse) for being ‘uppity’ by the other person or people.

    2) because you must *consciously* ‘do social stuff’, you’ll need to turn your conscience off (for the most part), because a lot of ‘socially-sanctified behaviors’ are morally-questionable *at best*. E.g. ‘climbing the social hierarchy’ often requires cunning, treachery and manipulation.

    Normdom’s largely-innate unconscious processing of these matters facilitates a high degree of self-deception that you’ll not have the luxury of. Instead, you’ll need to look into your cold dead eyes each and every day and acknowledge that you are ***evil***.

    2b) because there’s something about being as we are that most Norms can pick up on (article: “Neurotypical peers are less…” – three separate studies, bad first impressions re autists, Nts don’t want to interact/deliberate shunning… happens on videos and still pictures as well as in person) then we’re essentially forced to deal with this and other NT matters in a proactive fashion, e.g ‘love-bombing/ charm offensives’ so as to distract the NT target(s) from what they might be sensing’.

    That means *we* might well need ’95th percentile social *skills*’ (because we learn them, like advanced mathematics or computer programming) to get much of *anywhere* socially – oh, and we must channel Robert Greene in 48 laws of power mode to not be crushed by the raving pack of enraged Normies!

    Why, you might ask? Their smelly attitudes. They see us as ‘lesser beings’, and for us to ‘join the gang’ (society) is seen as an act of ‘extreme social climbing’ – which means we are held to those particular rules and those consequences for failure.

    Just joining up isn’t a workable option then – either get to the top, or don’t go at all – and the results had best be meaningful enough that the needed sacrifice is ‘worth it’.

    It’s kind of hard to want power for its own sake when you scarcely comprehend its meaning in any way – much less that of someone with a personality-disorder – and emulating a personality-disordered person’s thinking and behavior is what is required if you are like *us*, if you wish to ‘do Normal’ in an effectual manner. (As in true ‘more normal than normal’)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Truth! 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼. This, all of it! This was a thoroughly enjoyable comment to read. You make such a great point about socially-sanctioned behaviors also being morally questionable, or even morally wrong. It does make me scratch my head wondering how society got to be that way, and why it’s not being recognized for the pathology that it is 💙💚

      Like

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