But… you’re so strong

“You’re so strong. You’ll get through this.”

I can’t count the number of times I have hard that. For the most part, I guess I am strong. I have my life together and I am emotionally stable. I am the rock that my friends lean on when they need help. I can see why people think I am “so strong.”

But sometimes, life happens.
It knocks the wind out of you and all the air is sucked out of the room.
You’re left feeling shaken, hurt, and unsteady. It’s hard to breathe.
It may even be hard to get out of bed.
When that happens, even “strong” people need help getting back up.
Unfortunately, instead of help, we’re often met with platitudes:

“It just takes time.”
“You’ll get through this.”
“You’re so strong.”

I am sure the people who say these things really believe they are helping. They see it as a compliment. They regurgitate a greeting card platitude and feel they have been of help. Done and dusted. In reality, what they are really doing is absolving themselves of actually helping.

What would help? Instead of “You’ll be fine”, try saying “It sounds like you’re really hurting. Do you want to talk about it?” Then listen. Put your phone down and REALLY listen.

Instead of “Time heals all wounds!!” try “I can see your pain is really raw right now. I’m sorry you’re going through this. What can I do to help you hurt a little less today?” And then do it.

People who know me would describe me as strong, but what they can’t see is that really, I am not. I’m “strong” because I have to be. No one is there to pick me up when I shatter, and I have learned this the hard way. I have to do it myself, but I don’t want to. My aspie brain makes me a great problem solver. Because of this, I’ve spent my entire life helping others and picking up the pieces for other people. It would be absolutely amazing to have someone do that for me. Someone who can anticipate what I need and meet that need without having to be asked. I’d love to have someone like me in my life.

Being a strong woman is hard enough. Being a strong Aspie woman is even harder. Those with Asperger’s already live in a neurotypical world that is pretty judgmental and mean to anyone who appears different. In order to be successful in this world, Aspies have to emulate neurotypical people and follow their social rules. Sometimes, it is just exhausting. The small talk. The noise. The constant smiling because everyone is happy! Happy! HAPPY!. The high-pitched voices and over-enthusiasm. The fake platitudes. It can be overwhelming at times. When you add a personal tragedy to that, it can be immobilizing.


So please – when your friends (Aspie or not) tell you they are hurting or if they share something they are truly struggling with, try not to dismiss their pain with a cliche – even if they are “strong.”


Online dating-Alan Gary Gregory from Gatley

I met Alan Gary Gregory (aka Gary or Gaz) online in January 2016. I was helping a friend in the UK write his dating profile and we were reading the profiles of other straight men to get an idea of some clever things to say.

Alan’s profile was witty and referenced Star Wars. It made me laugh. I messaged him and told him it was clever, that I wasn’t looking to date someone from the UK, but that I hoped he found his special someone. He wrote back asking for my theory on who Rey’s father was (from Star Wars). I was happy to have a new British friend. After a week of messaging, he asked if he could call. We began talking regularly and soon began video chatting every day. We talked about cultural differences, politics, and sci-fi. Our conversations were not romantic. I honestly thought of him as a new friend.

In Feb. 2016 he asked if I would go out to dinner with him if he came to America. I said “Sure. If you ever get over to America and Florida, you bet.” The next thing I know, he’s booking plane tickets to come see me. I was shocked. So much money just to meet me? He came and we went on a cruise to the Bahamas, to the Kennedy Space Center, and on a night time airboat ride to see Alligators. We had a fantastic time together and he said he wanted me to be his girlfriend and date him exclusively. He said eventually one of us would have to move and he invited me to visit him in England. I didn’t even have a passport. We got along so well. It seemed so perfect.

We talked/video chatted every day- multiple times a day. He was far away but he felt so close. We video chatted while we cooked dinner together. We watched movies together (at the same time at least). I started falling for him. Two months later, I’ve got a passport and plane tickets for 2 weeks in England.

He treated me like a princess. Breakfast in bed every morning. An entire vacation catered to me and the things I liked. Museums. A trip to see the castle in Edinburgh. The Quarry Bank. Every day he presented me with options to choose from. He was so incredibly attentive. Nerdy, intelligent, clever, and attentive. Physically, he wasn’t the type of man I was attracted to but his personality and how he treated me made him attractive to me.

His birthday was at the end of July and he said that he didn’t want a present. He just wanted to see me again. He invited me to come to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland with him in August. I agreed.

We went to the Fringe Festival. It was mostly a good time but he seemed intent on forcing me to watch stage shows I told him I wouldn’t like such as Frank Sinazi- a Frank Sinatra impersonator who dresses like Hitler and sings about Hitler. Burlesque show after burlesque show. I flat out refused to see the woman who shoves hot dogs and Nutella in her vagina. He went anyway. It was our first fight.

We talked about his belief that he might have Aspergers too and I felt that he wanted me to watch his kind of shows because that was his way of trying to share the things he liked with me.

We talked it out and worked it out. We made up and spent the rest of the trip enjoying the things we mutually shared like the Star Trek Experience in Blackpool. We rode the ferris wheel on the pier. We had a great time there. By the end of the trip I knew I was in love.

I wanted to tag him in our pictures on Facebook but he said he keeps his personal life private. I didn’t like it but felt I needed to respect his wishes. In December I took my family to Washington DC for Christmas so Alan and I didn’t get a chance to see each other over Christmas.

He flew to Florida to see me in April 2017. After waiting more than a year, I finally agreed to let him meet my children. We went to Universal Studios. They thought he was geeky but nice. I shared photos of him with my kids on Facebook. I respected his request and didn’t tag Alan but something told me to make them public so anyone could see them if they went to MY page. He said he adored the kids and was going to clean out his guest room so they could come visit him in England. We made plans for me and one of my sons to come in August. All this time..we are talking every day.

Our plan was for me to arrive first in England for a few days so we could have some time together. My son would arrive a few days later. When I arrived in England at the end of August his behavior seemed different. He usually took me everywhere with him but he had left me at his home twice because his friend “Paul” was breaking up with his wife and needed support. We went shopping and he seemed distracted. “It’s just work stuff.” He promised. He picked up a wine bottle opener. We had to take a special trip back to a card store for a specific card he saw. (For a “friend”).

He asked me to help him finish getting the guest room ready for my son. He bought tickets to London and was looking for a hotel for us. All the while he’s talking excitedly about how much my son is going to love London. I thought everything was going as planned. I thought he was just nervous about having my son come. He doesn’t have any children of his own and he seemed worried about making a good impression. I never saw it coming.

After a few nights together he said He could no longer do a long distance relationship. He cried. Sobbed. His whole body shook as he told me that being with my children in April made him feel like part of a family. He claimed he always wanted a family but he and his ex-wife had been unable to have children after her miscarriage. Being with my children made him feel like he finally had the family he always wanted, but when he had returned to England, he came home to an empty house. He cried that he never felt so alone. He said he had been trying but couldn’t find a job in America. I told him I could come live in England. He kept repeating that there was no way we could be together. I didn’t understand. We WERE together. I had 10 days left in England and my 15 year old son- who he invited- was arriving in a few days. Now I had nowhere to go.

I had to get a hotel. I now had to pay for 10 days of hotels and meals I hadn’t budgeted for. I was in tears trying to figure out where I would get the money. He never offered to help.

I was devastated. I thought things couldn’t get any worse.

Then I got a message on Facebook from a woman named Carly saying she thought her new boyfriend was my boyfriend too. At first I thought she was lying until she described the wine opener and card he brought her. He had pasted his photo on It. It was the wine bottle opener he purchased with me and the same card we had made a special trip to the card store for. She sent me photos of it. It was writing on the inside, claiming he loved her. She sent me text messages where he described me as a platonic American friend who was visiting. He was telling her that he wouldn’t be able to see her while I was in town. It was very suspicious.

She didn’t believe him so she looked me up on FB and saw the public photos of us kissing on a ferris wheel and pictures of him with me and my children at Universal Studios. She knew he was lying.

I felt sucker-punched. They had been dating for about six weeks. They met on Tinder. That means he had a dating profile on Tinder and was actively seeking out other women BEFORE I bought our plane tickets. I later found out he was sleeping with Carly before I bought my plane tickets. All the while he’s telling me how excited he is to see me and my son and how much he misses me. We are making plans for a trip from Manchester to London and he is describing all the different museums and things we’ll see there with my son. Ugh.

Carly didn’t believe his “platonic American friend” story and after seeing the pictures of Alan and I together on Facebook, she tried to break it off with him. While he was telling me he needed to go meet with his friend Paul who was breaking up with his wife, he was really stalking Carly all over town. He searched her out in a pub and tried to convince her that I didn’t exist. The next time he showed up at her house and that is when he brought the wine bottle opener and card. Meanwhile I’m sitting at his house thinking he’s out at the pub with his childhood friend Paul. Carly was creeped out by the lies and the stalking. She broke up with him the same day he broke up with me.

The next day, he began messaging me asking how I was and saying he wanted to find a way to work it out.

He didn’t know that Carly and I had spoken.

I agreed to dinner.

I wanted to give him the chance to confess. Carly and I had a plan. He took me to Pie And Ale in Manchester. At the restaurant, I gave him EVERY chance to admit infidelity but He vehemently denied it. I hoped he would admit it so we could possibly work through it. Unfortunately, he denied it more than 3 times. When I realized he wasn’t going to be honest with me, I sent Carly the signal and she walked in to the restaurant. She approached our table and said “Darling, it is so nice to finally meet you” and gave me a huge hug. She then sat down at our table. His face went pale. He said “I’ve been a complete arsehole. The both of you will never hear from me again. I’m going to go throw myself in the river.” He then got up and walked out of the restaurant. He didn’t pay for his meal.

Carly pulled out the card and we had a drink. We quickly became friends. She took me to another pub for quiz night and introduced me to her friends. I appreciated the camraderie and the sisterhood. We posted about our experience on fb and women started sharing it.

Within 48 Hours he was back on Tinder trying to get a date. A woman told me she had a lunch date set up with him and cancelled because she saw our story. I also heard from his ex-girlfriend. They had not broke up before he met me. He continued dating her for eight months while he was seeing me. He was also seeing another woman he met on Tinder. She was able to give explicit details so I knew she was telling the truth.

So ladies…be warned. He’s geeky. He’s awkward. He loves to tell bad jokes and puns. He’s so incredibly nerdy that you’ll feel safe with him because you can’t imagine that he would be the kind of guy to date multiple women. But he does. He has a compulsive need for attention. I never saw it coming.

I did my best to make my son’s visit to England a good trip. It’s hard because I’m not only heartbroken – I’m also struggling to pay for hotels and meals out but I had not budgeted for. Thanks to Hurricane Irma, we ended up stranded for an additional 5 days. 15 days of hotels and meals. I was blessed to have a few British friends who took us in for a few nights here and there. This includes the amazing Carly. She is a wonderful woman and she never would have dated him if she knew he had a girlfriend. He lied to her too and she didn’t deserve it either.

I will never know why he encouraged me to buy tickets and bring my son when he knew He was sleeping with Carly. I’ve asked him for answers but he refuses to give them.

You’ve been warned ladies.

Here he is….Alan Gary Gregory from Gatley (Manchester) UK. Director of Alveni Enterprises. He likes Manchester United, sci fi, James Bond, Judge Dredd, beer -especially IPAs. He pinches pennies at Aldis but drives a Mercedes Benz. He listens to movie soundtracks. He has a Master’s degree that he loves to boast about. he will claim that he’s Athletic – a former rower – yet his knees and back are always giving out. Due to an injury, he can’t fully use his right shoulder. he loves to brag that he once slept with a famous actress in a bar.

As his card said..that man. The myth. The bell end.
























This post was co-authored by C. E. Freeman