“Celeste’s” Relationship Testimony With Franklin Veaux
The first-person testimony of “Celeste” from The Game Changer by Franklin Veaux, as interviewed by Louisa Leontiades. This edited transcript has been signed off by Celeste as fully representing her experience. Read Louisa’s notes and supporting analysis here.
Update, February 2022: After this page was published, Franklin began asserting on Quora and in blog posts that he and Celeste were nonmonogamous from the beginning of their relationship. Celeste disputes this, as do Franklin’s own published words from August 11, 2003, where he wrote (see p. 13): “I am 37. [Celeste] and I started dating 17 years ago, when I was 20. We first began exploring the possibility of a non-monogamous relationship 15 years ago, or two years into our relationship…when I was 22.”
Celeste: Yeah, I was apparently the first in a long line, which I’m very sorry to all of you that have had to go through that. I understand that he’s left quite a wake of sadness and poverty. I’m an empathetic human being, which is, I think what he chooses because all of the women that I have met, I think are the same way. You know we’re caring, we’re nurturing, we’re… well they’re intelligent. They’re, you know, amazing in their own right. And he likes to ride those coattails.
He has his personality and he is dynamic enough. And he puts forth that you know that first initial contact, as he’s you know got a sense of humor, and he’s fun, and he’s intelligent, and he’s just a neat person. And that’s the part that you see and that’s what catches you. And it’s not until later either when he’s ready to move on or you… maybe he’s getting the feeling that you’re not willing to be there for him, like he wants you to be there for him. Then that’s when the tables turn a little bit. But I don’t think that he will let you go entirely until he’s sure he won’t need you anymore.
Louisa: How did it start? Where did it break up? How did the communication fall down? And, and of course, how did you feel?
Celeste: Well, he didn’t tell me he was, he wanted to open up our relationship until we were two years in, I was already, you know, I already loved him. So at that point, maybe I should start there, so at that point, it was either break up with him, or we were gonna have to—neither one of us have the relationship that we wanted, so that’s when I wanted to create parameters. When, that’s when I said, you know, I needed to be the top dog, you know, because that’s the monogamous person of me. I needed to be the one to live with him. I needed to be the one that you know, if we were going to have like a life together and if he wanted to go out and be with other women that would be OK. But he you know I didn’t want him falling in love with them and I didn’t want him spending the night with them and I didn’t want any of that going on, because that was the part that I was giving up for him, not having a monogamous lifestyle that I wanted, but him getting to do what he wanted to do. And actually that worked… okay.
Louisa: How did he tell you that he wanted to open it up?
Celeste: Because I was living with his best friend Tim and Cindy his—Tim’s girlfriend at the time, and he had a thing for Cindy that he finally decided he didn’t want to hide anymore. So that’s when it actually came about and he had tried to share other women with Tim as well. That was kind of like a rivalry that they had. That—he seemed to like that: have a best friend and then share women, you know. That was what he and Tim did.
Louisa: Do you also recall him telling you about his dates at the prom?
Celeste: Yes, that was when he decided to tell me that he wanted to open up our relationship. One of the things he told me, that he took two dates to the prom, and I was like “Well, how did that happen?” And I honestly can’t remember the story right now, it’s been 40 years. His point of view, it was a happy night, and everybody was happy. But I never met the girls; I have no idea who they were.
We did go to one of his high school reunions in Cape Coral when we were together. We were sitting there at a table, and somebody recognized me before somebody came to him, to recognize him. Because somebody he went to high school with was working with my sister in a local pharmacy. And I thought that that was really weird, that we would go to his high school reunion—I grew up in Pennsylvania. And then in that reunion dinner. We sat next to another couple, that he of course didn’t remember, because he never really pays too much attention to a lot of people. There was a very electric dynamic between the two of them. They probably just started dating, is what I figured, because you saw the you know the sexual electricity and that’s who he wanted to stay and eat with and talk with that night, because he felt, you know, that that dynamic between them interested him.
And then we never saw them or heard from them ever again. It was like we sat there and he didn’t recognize anybody, because he didn’t really have an interest in anybody. You know, that’s not what he was really looking for, that he didn’t want to go around the room and talk…
Celeste: So, after Cindy, then when her and Tim broke up, she moved on and never to be seen again.
And then we moved to Sarasota, and then we moved to Tampa. And when we moved to Sarasota, he was going to school and he met Ruby. And he and Ruby got very close, and Tim started dating her and living with her. And then they moved to New York, and they spent about a year or so together, her and Tim, they moved to California, they moved back to New York, and then when she moved back to New York, Tim found another woman that he was going to marry and have children with. And that’s when she moved to Tampa and moved in with us. That was, oh let me see, maybe six or seven years into our relationship?
And then he was curling up with her every night and spending as much time with her during the day as he could, and he would stay in her room until she decided she wanted to sleep, and then she would tell him to go away. And I—and then she eventually met and fell in love with Jake and rejected Franklin. And I think he was very upset about this. But then that brought him, then he came back to me, sort of. But it was, it was to the point where I was like, “You know, what are you doing? You know she’s in the bedroom next door to us” and he’s over there until she tells him to go away. And then I’m by myself, and I’m like you know, “What is this? I don’t want this kind of a life. This isn’t what I want.” And I actually pulled suitcases out of the closet. I was going to pack up and go home. And he broke down into tears because he didn’t want me to leave. And I said, “Well this is the part where you need to make a decision.”
Louisa: So there was no there was no discussion beforehand that he would be in, well it was a platonic relationship?
Celeste: It was. And he of course wanted more from her, but she wasn’t willing to go there. That was a real blow to him. And he turned around and—I’m not even sure exactly all what how badly he treated her. I know he treated her badly. I know he said things, I know that he probably ignored her on a certain level. It was enough for her never to want to have him in any way in her life again. He never really got over her, I don’t think.
And then, you know, fast forward to when we moved to Tampa, and that’s when he met Bella and Maryann. And for a long time they were, you know, they were the steady side girlfriends. I know that it got to a point where Bella wanted more of the relationship, and she ended up moving to Georgia and Maryann was happily living over by Orlando, not wanting anything more from him. But he was always pretty, pretty happy with that situation—that he could say he had a wife and two girlfriends.
It was what it was. I had enough of a monogamous life. He had, well, with Bella moved to Georgia, and then she moved to San Francisco. So his his personal time with her was, you know, very minimal. And Maryann might come over once every six or eight weeks. So I had the kind of life that I could live with. You know, I never ever felt that I was polyamorous or—you know, this was just what, the way my life was. And I could live with that. It wasn’t quite everything I wanted, but it was enough. I felt that, that’s who I fell in love with, and then he was, we had that agreement, then I could live long and happy with him.
You know, there was a time early on in our relationship where we would always go to bed together. And you know, I would always end up waking up early and going to work. He always seemed to get a later shift than I did. And then as he got more, you know, successful, quote unquote “successful,” you know when he started with his bulletin board and we started having you know, we’d get together and meet the people that were on his bulletin board and that’s when we met our Tampa group of people. And then, we ended up moving up there.
And then we built a house and got in to the poly, local poly groups, and the beginning of every poly group, I would say, “You know, I’m a monogamous person, non-monogamous relationship, and we have made it work all these years because of these rules that we have. And he was all happy about that and said things that, you know, made it seem as though he was, this was what he wanted, and he was happy with this situation and never indicated that he was unhappy or trapped or wronging anybody until he met Amber.
And then when Amber came along, she was a very vocal girlfriend, and she wanted more, and demanded more. And then that’s when he changed. And that’s when he felt that—I guess that’s when he decided that I wasn’t allowing him to live his life that he wanted to live. That I was creating a situation where he could never have—all of his girlfriends were going to be second, and they weren’t going to be able to have what I have.
When when all that was going on, when the LiveJournal stuff was going on, he was very, very upset that I was putting everything out there. And that was part of my therapy for me, to find out if I was crazy or if I was, you know, off balance. Seeing himself as you know a poly idealist, you know, he was going to perfect it, and he was going to right his wrongs. And at the same time, we were supposed to be married, and in this relationship for over 18 years. And he was behaving to me—no the stuff that I never, he was doing things I never expected him to ever do, which in turn was causing me to do stuff that I didn’t think I would ever do.
I really never saw him. You know, I had to separate my week. I had to—she had to have her time then I had to have my time, and it didn’t matter what was going on in my life, if it was my birthday or not, if it was his night to be with her then that’s what she wanted. You know it was like, well what have I spent the last 16 years of my life doing, you know, when now I have to take a backseat. And then they got to the point even where they wanted to move to Boston. No plans of taking me. I mean, we’re married. You know, that’s not what a marriage is. Not in my world anyway. And there was just lots of, lots and lots of long conversations, long nights of talking, you know, trying to work something out, and we just never got there. I said “How about counseling?” And he said fine. So I found a counselor that understood polyamory. And he and I went the first time, just him and I. And then the second time he had to have Amber with us.
And that’s when he said he wanted a divorce, on our way home from there. And I said okay. Then he let it sit a month, a month without doing anything. I was expecting him to get an attorney and do all this other stuff. And he didn’t, so I did. Then he was very surprised and angry when he got his divorce papers delivered to him. He yelled and screamed at me over the phone.
Yeah, the whole shouting thing, too, was weird, because up to when Amber came into our lives, we would sit and talk about our differences of opinions. We would talk through stuff. And when he, I think, when he was done, is when the shouting started. You know almost, like screaming at the top of his lungs kind of thing. When, when he got the divorce papers and he called me, he was screaming at me, because I did this, and how could I do this to him. How could I let them, you know, come into his office and hand him divorce papers. And how could I be, you know, treating him so terribly after all these years.
Like, I did everything for Franklin. I bought his socks and underwear. He never had to worry about clothes, food I, I did all the shopping, I did all the cooking, I did all the cleaning. Until we got a house, and then, you know, we got this this 2,100 square foot house. It was beautiful. But he never wanted to clean it. And I’m like, well then you know, I need some help. So I had a housekeeper come in once a month. That was his contribution to cleaning the house. Because I demanded you know, you wanted a house this big, so you know, and he wouldn’t have gotten into the house had it not been for my bill-paying skills and getting us that house. But, you know, when he, when he met other women, you know, they would think that he did it all, because, you know, he was successful when he was in the advertising business, and he had some good clients and—right before the towers hit the ground, he was making pretty good money. But when they hit the ground, I as a dental office manager, was making more than him. So, that was kind of sad, you know, when I’m making like 16 dollars an hour.
Louisa: And so he paid for the cleaner because he couldn’t clean himself?
Celeste: Yeah. It was like, maybe 60 dollars a month. I mean, you know, I didn’t have her come weekly. This was just once a month. Just somebody to do the heavier cleaning and, you know, we had nine-and-a-half-foot ceilings. You know, it was just, you know just a little extra help was all I needed.
He worked for a couple different graphics places in Tampa. And then he ended up at, I can’t remember the name of the company now, where he was paid with stock certificates at times, who provided our health insurance. And he would he would go there and he would make so much money, and then he would leave to go somewhere else for a little while and then could go back to that company and make more money. And then he had his own local computer business where he would set up networks and things like that. And I called myself “hardware girl” because I would order all the hardware that he needed for him. And whatever he needed, and then I had it delivered. You know, I did everything that I could to to keep us in a happy, you know, as much as I could do with working my eight hours, 36-hour work weeks, and then taking care of him in the evenings. And, you know, when he would just want to come home and eat dinner and then go up into his computer room and do whatever it was he wanted. You know. And that’s all he wanted to do.
Celeste: I think it pretty much started when we met Amber. Because I knew the way that he was getting on along with her and, you know, by the second time she came around I knew that she was going to change our relationship. And I told him that, I said, “She’s going to change our relationship, and I don’t think it will be for the better.”
So I kind of knew that right away, but I didn’t start playing the endgame until maybe a year later, at Christmas time. It was the last Christmas that we had in our house, and we had his family come up. It was her nights to to have him upstairs with her. I was alone in our bed, and his sister was on our futon in our bedroom, and he was upstairs with her over Christmas while his family was here with us. And that’s when I decided I was going to start playing my endgame. So I had to plan out how this was going to go down now. We were homeowners, and two vehicles. And, you know, I had to figure out how to do this. I was going to try and see if I can salvage anything, but once I realized, you know, through the counseling that he was gone, then I had to figure out my life with as little scarring as possible. And when I left Florida I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t going to have to go back for anything.
I spent that last month dividing our finances, and he didn’t have any idea, because he never paid anything. I handled all the bills. So I let him take possession of one vehicle, and I took possession of the other, and working on keeping track of what the bills are you know, and all this other stuff. And then, he had the girlfriend from Boston come down, and I took my car and left for the weekend.
Louisa: Did you know, and did you leave on purpose, or was it just…?
Celeste: No, I left on purpose. I didn’t want to be there. If he was bringing another girlfriend into my house, I did not want to be there. And nor was I going to give him my vehicle to cart them around in. Our vehicles were ours. You know, he wanted a two-seater and two girlfriends, and I’m sure, you know, you heard about that story. So I came back that Monday night. He probably thought he knew where I was, but he didn’t, because I didn’t even want him to know where I was. And then I came home that Monday night, did my laundry. And when he came home, I asked him for my car key and he was going upstairs to where Amber was, and I can’t remember what I first said, but he looked at me and said, “You don’t know what I’m capable of doing.”
But I felt he threatened me, which he adamantly denies that was a threat. And it was the way he looked to me in the eye and told me, “You don’t know what I’m capable of doing,” and then he walked up the stairs to Amber.
And, at that point I called a couple of friends, because I wasn’t sure if I should feel safe or not at that point. And both of them who had known him for more than 10 years said, “He probably won’t do anything to hurt you, but how about be better safe than sorry, and just leave.” So that was the night I left my house. I pulled everything, all my clothes out of the dryer, put them back in the suitcase, and grabbed a couple other little things, and then left, because I didn’t know when I was going to be back.
Celeste: He was—he got a lot angry when he and Amber went to Boston. I went back into the house, and because I was going to be moving up here, and I didn’t have a computer that I could connect to the Internet, but I had a friend that had an old laptop that I could have, but I couldn’t afford to buy it from her. So I took the violet wand that he had bought for he and I one Christmas to use at the play parties that he was no longer using with me, that he was using with Amber. And I traded that violet wand for the laptop. So when he came back from Boston, it wasn’t there. And he got very, very angry about that. I honestly don’t remember what he said, because he called me up—I kind of just blocked that out. He was like, “How could you have done that, that wasn’t yours.” I said, “Well you know yeah it was, you bought it for us, and you weren’t using it for me, and I needed to trade it for something for me, for my future.” But I don’t really remember everything that he said after that, and it was on the phone, and I was probably at work, because he would call me when it was convenient for him, and not for me.
Then that’s when I got the divorce papers from the attorney and created my own bank account. And you know all that. Stuff to start separating from him.
Oh, that was a thing that he did, too, when I was going to dental assisting school. That was about six months, and he was trying to start up a company, so he didn’t really have an income. So his parents gave us maybe, you know four or five hundred dollars every other week to keep us going. And when we divorced, he said he was going to sue me for alimony. I was like, “Well how are you going to do that?” And he said, “Well, I put you through dental assisting school, and you’re making a living doing it now. So I can get alimony.” I says, “You asshole!” I said, “Your parents supported us while we were going through dental assisting school, because you were trying to start Storm Graphics, and you weren’t making any money. They were making money, and I’m pretty sure they’re not going to sue me for alimony.” He couldn’t get money that way. He was just trying everything to get money from me.
Louisa: Do you still have a relationship with Franklin’s parents?
Celeste: Yeah, my father-in-law keeps in touch with me. He sends, you know, always sends a card at Christmas. You know, I just call them and just see how they’re doing. And I know that, they do contesting and try to win trips and stuff like that. Once I retained the attorney, I did go down to see them before I moved. Because I think if it wasn’t for me, they probably, you know, they wouldn’t have helped us, I don’t think as much, or him, as much as they helped us over the years, fixing cars and supporting us.
The attorney that I happened to retain was also a corporate attorney, so knew his way around stocks and bonds. Oh and then that was another thing, too. He bullied me about the attorney: “Where’d you get him? Did your friends tell you to go to him?”
And I said, “No I picked him out of a phone book.”
“Oh, see, that’s all you did, was open a phone book and”—you know—”pick him.”
And I says, “Yeah, pretty much, that’s what I did.” Oh and I said, “By the way, you should retain an attorney also.”
“Oh. Who told you that? Your friends?”
And I said “No, your mother.” And that kind of shut him down a little bit. But it was all kinds of baiting and—
Louisa: Sounds like he was belittling you.
Celeste: Yeah. Well, just like he did in the texting. Yeah. You know trying to tell me that I was being tricked, that I, you know, was believing what all these people were saying. You know while this texting was going on, I’m thinking, well isn’t that? —I’m thinking in my head, well that’s what you’re trying to do here.
When he was texting me in the evenings, he, I’m sure he didn’t know that I copy and pasted the entire conversation, you know, as-is into LiveJournal. Because I wanted to have a copy of it in there so that I could remember how he was talking to me and trying to bully me and, you know, get me to say things that weren’t true—to, you know, agree with him and all that other stuff. Which, I haven’t read in a long time. But they were there in case I ever needed a reminder as to just how he can be.
I’m not real good at remembering things verbatim, so I wanted to make sure that I had record of it.
Louisa: Did you believe that you were crazy at any point?
Celeste: I did. I did go back to the psychiatrist one more time. Just before we were divorced. I made another appointment with her, and I went back and I had another hour session with her and talked with her. And I don’t even remember really what happened during that session. But I just needed to hear her tell me that, you know, I was not crazy. That I still had both my feet on the ground. You know, the things that I had done weren’t signs of being crazy.
Because I had to, you know, check myself and know that—because I was doing having to do things that I that I didn’t think I’d ever have to do. Like when I was still in the house, I kind of just sat on, when they were there, I sat on the couch and looked mopey and sad. And as soon as they went out for a walk or went out to dinner or went somewhere, I ran back into my little office area and went through every piece of paper in my desk, looking to make sure, you know, that I had everything that I was going to need for the divorce. That I had, you know, bills, copies of bills, or totals of bills, you know for the months…
He had been paid with stocks from one of his clients—his primary client who, was he was kind of on the payroll and he, that, providing medical coverage for us. And in Florida, you know, all liabilities and all assets are shared equally upon divorce. So half of those stocks were mine. So when I had to have those stock certificates when I went to my attorney.
He was, turned out to be very upset about those stock certificates—that I “stole” them. They were his. I had to tell him that fifty percent of everything was ours—good and bad. And those stocks were just as much ours because they were given to him as payment.
After that, he was convinced that although I wasn’t living in the house, I needed to pay the bills for three months because Amber had paid for them. And he just assumed that I would pay her everything that he owed her.
They were living in the house. He didn’t leave, and he tried to turn that around, that, “She’s living in the house, and she’s keeping the electric on, and she’s doing this so that we can sell the house,” and I—he was there because he knew I couldn’t afford to be there. And I said, well, yeah, I know I couldn’t afford to live in that house by myself. I said I’d have shut the place down, so we wouldn’t be creating bills. But he wanted to live there, because she was paying the tab for everything.
She also paid like three thousand dollars in property taxes, to start everything off. We had a fight about that, because I’m like, “She’s a student, she needs that money to go to school. You know don’t—let’s ask the parents for help. You know, I don’t want to put her out. She needs that to live and for paying her tuition and books.” And he was like “No she wants to do it, because she wants to be a part of this family.” And I’m thinking, “What family? It’s you two and me.
So when we did go to mediation for divorce, I said, “Well, you know, once I move, I don’t know how long it’s going to take me to get a job.” My father was sick, and I didn’t know how I was going to be needed. I said, “So how about if we write in the divorce papers that I’ll pay you with the money that I get for selling the house?”
Well, we broke even on the house. In fact, we actually had to bring a check for a hundred and fifty dollars each to closing. So we made nothing on the house. And then he continued to talk to me for a little while, but just because he wanted to know when he was going to get, you know, his—I think he thought I was going to owe him, like, six thousand dollars or something. Which is not what, you know, the utilities in that house were combined, at most, five hundred dollars a month. But I wasn’t living there. And since we made no money on the house, my attorney said I therefore do not have to pay any of the bills from those months. That’s his problem—he was living there, I wasn’t.
I didn’t know what was going to happen with the money. It wasn’t something that I did on purpose, it was just something that happily worked out for me. And then once he knew that he wasn’t getting any money, he had, you know, she [Amber] e-mailed me, begging for it. And I said, I can’t. And there was, at one point I told her that Franklin is like a boat. Do you know what the definition of a boat is? And she said no. And I said, it is a hole in the water into which you pour money. I knew what he was going to do from that point forward then. And apparently, he just sucked everything he could out of her financially. But she had to—she couldn’t see it then. But I’m sure she had seen it after that.
Probably what Franklin was telling me and what Franklin was telling Amber was probably totally different stories. So I would be interested to see her perspective and what he was telling her all those times when I was telling him that, you know, I didn’t want her financial help.
He wanted to make sure I wasn’t gonna get any money from selling our house. I think he felt that, you know, he’d had, he had to hand me a paycheck, you know, when he got paid. I expected him to get up and go to work every day so that we could pay our bills. And it was his ten thousand dollars that we put down on our house, but he forgot that it was my paycheck that we were paying our bills with and eating with and our car payments and, you know, fuel and our other—when we would go away with friends for the weekend on, you know, a couple of times a year or so. That he felt that it was him that got the house. I’m sure that’s probably what he told Amber. I bought this house, I paid for this house. And so she probably thought that he had his shit together, that he could do that. But you know, I think she realized later on that it really wasn’t him.
You know, it’s like everything that I wanted, he wanted to make sure that I was gonna get less. That I wasn’t going to get any money from the house, I wasn’t going to do this, and don’t think that you have this, or you know whatever this happened to be. You know, he definitely did everything that he could to try and have me walk away with nothing. He really wanted me to walk away with nothing.
Louisa: Did you go no-contact?
Celeste: I think I called him when my my father died. And we had a cat in the neighborhood that always seeked him out. And when the cat died, I just, I emailed him to let him know the cat died. But pretty much other than that I really have almost no contact. Since he realized I wasn’t going to give him any money, that was pretty much when when [he stopped] wanting to talk to me.
What I know of what happened after that was that, he, I know he moved to Georgia. And I don’t think he was very happy there. And then the next thing, I had found out that he was moving cross-country. And then—whenever it was that Lily first got in touch with me. And she wanted to talk to me and find out what happened, because she felt she was going through a lot of the same things. And then that’s when I opened up LiveJournal to her and sent her the transcript. So everything that he typed to me, and—you know, found that he wasn’t still with Amber.
Louisa: That was only, but that was only a year ago or less than a year ago, yeah, that you found out he wasn’t still with Amber.
Celeste: I didn’t know, you know, he wasn’t in her life anymore. You know, I didn’t really look in on him or, you know, anything like that.
Celeste: I had—I did remarry.
Celeste: Well, I’ve also divorced.
Celeste: He, I never lived with him prior to getting married, because my father was sick. And so I didn’t know he was an alcoholic and a serial DUI person. Once I found out, you know, there was no hope for him, I had to let him go too. So I’ve been alone now for—oh gosh, I’m going to say since 2012, was my divorce. So it’s been a while. And so I’ve kind of thrown myself into work and my crafts and my family, and I am overall much happier that I don’t have that stress to worry about right now.
And I’m catching on faster. I think if if I get into another relationship, it’s, you know, he’s going to have to really be worthy of me. You know, because I’m just not going to let anybody else—and I would rather cross stitch all day and work than be involved in a relationship I’m more a part of than they are.
The one thing about that about him [Franklin] is that he, it’s obvious that he has great earning potential. He’s very gifted in, you know, with a computer under his fingers, and he can learn things very quickly. And I did see that potential early on in our relationship. The thing, though, is he never does anything with it. And even when we were very, very poor, you know, we lived on some credit cards that I had that were in my name. He had no credit until probably just before we built the house. And he, back in Y2K we had, we were living in an apartment complex that had a headhunter in there, and she placed, you know, business people, and she came to him and said, “You know, Franklin, I could put you in a programmer’s job, and you could make, you know, 70, 80 thousand dollars a year. And, you know, you could start making some big money.” And he refused. Because he didn’t want to be a programmer. You know, he could have worked probably at that point six months and gotten us out of debt, but he wouldn’t do that. Because he never wanted that. He’d like to stay in graphic arts. So, you know, he made our lives harder because he wouldn’t go that extra mile and do that. For us.
And then once we got into Poly Tampa, you know, that’s when he started deciding that he wanted a different life, and I just wasn’t the right person for that.