Episode 4

Eve’s Relationship Testimony With Franklin Veaux

Interviewed by Louisa Leontiades on August 25, 2019, with supplemental material recorded October 6, 2019. Scroll down for audio. 

Eve: It’s good to actually be feeling things, I guess. 

I had this metaphor that I came up with, actually. There was…the few months after the breakup, and you know, up through Stella’s death—and I would say like, most of 2018 to be honest—where I was just like, a complete mess. And then, I think it was around October or so that I—cause it was at the time that I wrote that “anger management” piece—that I just started to feel like, really numb and hollow and empty, and like there wasn’t really anything inside me. And that just sort of stayed for a long time.

And I went to this retreat in June, and I remember talking to a woman there. And I had gone on the same retreat in June 2018. And I was talking about like, how different I felt a year apart. 

And I said, “A year ago, I was on fire, and now everything’s burned down, and I’m just ash.”

And so, that’s the metaphor that I’ve been using. But it’s like, I can also feel that like, after a fire, there’s still a seed bank, and stuff starts to grow back, and so it’s sort of starting to feel like that. Only the stuff that is growing back is not—I mean you don’t get the same forest as what you burned down. And it happens weirdly and sporadically. So it’s like, sometimes I’ll still have the numbness, and then sometimes I’ll have really intense feelings about things. And it’s pretty unpredictable. And I can be like, numb one moment, and then I’ll have something that reminds me of something, and then it’s just like all of the floodgates kind of open.

I know I said this, but it’s just so interesting, the fact that Franklin has had this ongoing narrative about how I still have this anger problem. And it’s like, actually, you know, according to my therapist, the problem has been that I had become unable to feel anger. I can feel it now, but it’s still somewhat hit-or-miss.

I realized that we haven’t done any testimony in about six months. And it’s just interesting because like, so much has happened in that time, and so much has shifted with me and my understanding of the situation. And so it’s just going to be interesting, like kind of trying to pick up and continue.

Well of course, the call-out happened. And we got to see how he has responded, and continued to respond to that. And that has really shown me in a way that I, I hadn’t fully wrapped my head around before, just who he is, you know? And who he has always been. And I think when we started talking, I was still, in a lot of ways, really trying to give him the benefit of the doubt, and really not quite ready to come to terms with just the kind of person that I had been with. And it’s reached a point where it’s just absolutely undeniable, you know?

For well over a year, I didn’t look at any of his or his partners’ social media, or any of the things that he had been posting or saying about me. And then, you know, when I was finally ready, I went back and I looked at those things. And yeah, I’m so glad, so glad that I didn’t do that a year ago. Like it would’ve destroyed me. And you know, he knows all of the little levers in my brain to hit. And he’s been trying to do that. And I’m not totally immune to that now, but I am—I, I can see what’s going on, and it doesn’t send me into like an emotional tailspin. And mostly it’s just like, so ugly. Just so incredibly ugly.

And so I have enough distance from it that I can process it in that way. But to some extent, it’s like, I’ve seen so much of it now that even the gut punches, they don’t happen anymore, because it’s just like, “Oh my God, what a—like, he’s just such a shit.” Like that’s just what it comes down to, is just like, I don’t even expect anything different anymore. And even, even when he’s not directly being an asshole, I can see the abusive thinking in what he says.

I can pick up More Than Two, and I can see the abuse in More Than Two. Like, it’s right there. And it’s that, like that with his writing, too. I think Kali’s analysis really helped with that. But yeah. It’s just like, eww. Eww, gross. You know?

JUNE–JULY 2015

Let’s start at the end of the Rose situation. So that had just sort of finished. And it finally ended with Rose going no-contact with him.1 And right about that time—I mean 2015 was just such a dramatic year in so many ways.

Well there were two sort of important things that happened, and all of these things sort of helped set the stage for crises that happened later.

So one of them was that Sylvia came to visit—which on its own wasn’t a problem. And, she sort of did things in the way that she is wont to do things and that he has always tolerated, which is, you know, sort of planning at the last minute and just expecting him to drop everything and be available to her. So she had wanted to do this roadtrip. And they’d been talking about it for awhile, but she hadn’t said when. And then she set the dates and got her ticket and then informed him of when it was going to be. And it, it turned out that it was overlapping with the launch of a crowdfunding campaign that we’d already committed to with one of our authors. And so I raised that with him, and he said, “Oh, well it’s okay. You know, I’ll be working on the roadtrip, we’ll be stopping at cafes and doing work and stuff.”

So I was like, “Okay, that’s fine. As long as you’re available to me when I need your help.”

But that was part of this pattern that would become more and more stark over time, which was that like—yes, he would sometimes, intermittently make himself available to me to help. But I was always the one carrying things forward, and the one responsible for not dropping things. Whereas like, he could drop and pick things up as he was able, or wanted to.

But then while he was actually on the trip, his intermittent availability out in the desert versus my sort of need to be able to communicate with him about, you know, primarily business things, created tension. And of course I have no idea what he was saying to Sylvia at that time about, you know, why I was contacting him or—

Louisa: How unreasonable you were.

Eve: I know! And I had made very clear, like, “Okay, if you need to like, be, go”—as I had with Vera, like, you know, “If you’ve got a date, if you’re spending quality time, like if you need to like disappear for a while, it’s totally cool. But just like, let me know if there’s a period of time when I’m not supposed to be messaging you, or when you’re going to be unreachable.” And so I think it was the night before the campaign launched. I had told him, “I am going to need you to help me with a bunch of stuff on the site.” ‘Cause there was some coding on Indiegogo that I couldn’t do. “I’m going to need you this night to help me with this stuff.” And he was like, “Okay.” And then, I’m rushing to get everything ready so that he can do his part before this launch. And then I get this message from him, like, “Oh, we’re about to head off into Black Rock Desert! I’ll be unavailable for a couple of days. Talk to you later!”

And I was like, “Wait, what? Like you, you literally committed to this evening to work on the site.”

And we ended up having a phone call and he was like, being really sharp with me. “Like, well, I just figured that you’d understand that when I’m travelling with another partner that I might, you know, I might have to not be—” I can’t remember exactly what he said, but he was like, mean. And he was making it sound like I wasn’t being respectful of his time with Sylvia and his need to be with her. And I’m like, “But you told me you were available, and if you’d told me like three days ago that you wouldn’t be, I would have—like it would’ve been fine. But I’m counting on you now.” Right?

I remember that conversation, because I remember getting so upset with him that I hung up the phone while he was talking to me, because he was being like—this is my perspective—but like, he was being really mean and not hearing what I was trying to say. And so I was just like, “I can’t listen to this.” And I just, I hung up. And then, you know, uh, one of us called back a few minutes later, and we talked it through, and he was like, “Okay, we’ll get a hotel tonight, and I’ll do the work you need me to do. And, you know, we’ll go to Black Rock Desert tomorrow.” So, fine. Um, again, no idea how that was conveyed to Sylvia, but I can only imagine.

And then like, I remember the rest of that, like they—you know, he did his thing, we launched the campaign—me and the other author launched the campaign without him. But I don’t remember any other incidents through their trip. 

And then sometime around that time, I don’t remember if this was before or after that trip happened, but he had a really major health crisis. And again he—he blogged about this, so I don’t think I’m violating his privacy here. But it was like a chronic appendicitis, and he was visiting me when it got really bad, and I had to take him down to the hospital in Washington State. And I remember that there was a window of time when he was having various tests done, when they thought it might have been a particularly aggressive, lethal and basically untreatable form of cancer.

And of course I had consulted Dr. Google, and Dr. Google told me that if he had this kind of cancer, he would have like, I don’t know, it was like two months to live, or something. And it wasn’t—he was having tests done. He didn’t have a diagnosis, but it was raised as a possibility. And so for awhile—and I don’t remember how long it was, few days or a couple of weeks—we were living with this possibility that…he could die soon. Right? Like that—and that really, I think on top of, you know, us almost breaking up over the Rose situation, and then being confronted by the fact…the possibility that like, he could die within a few months, that really solidified for me how much I wanted to be with him, and how much I didn’t want to lose him.

And that was the year that I felt genuinely terrified of losing him. And particularly during that time when we were waiting for his diagnosis. Like, I was just realizing how attached I was. And I started realizing, “No, I want this relationship to last my whole life. Like, I don’t ever want us not to be partners. I don’t ever want us to not be together. This means so much to me, and we are so compatible”—and this is, you know, something that he would say to me over and over again. “We are so compatible.” We had this like, incredibly special, unique relationship that like, most people would envy. And we were so compatible, and we travelled so well together, and we managed so well together in small spaces, and like, we never got sick of each other and all this stuff.

I mean that was his narrative. But I shared it.

I have this really intense emotional memory of…a friend of mine took me to the Vancouver Symphony during that window when we were waiting for the diagnosis. And I remember sitting—sitting there, in the theater, listening to the music, with tears streaming down my face, because I was so scared.

So just like…yeah.

And then it turned out it was appendicitis. And he wasn’t gonna die.

But we had a conversation sometime that summer, I think. And I remember, we had this conversation on my bed, in my bedroom. And you know, I was having all these feelings about wanting to always be with him. And yet, I didn’t feel like there was a lot of room for our relationship to grow beyond what it was, because he lived with Vera, and Vera was his life partner. And it didn’t occur to me that that would ever change, that he would ever not live with her. I mean, despite the fact that like, he had talked about wanting to move to Canada for a couple of years. Like, I had assumed that they would do that together.

And I also remember at that time was the first time that I ever started to understand the desire for immortality. Right? Like that was something of him that I had accepted, but had never personally understood.

And it’s not like I started wanting to live forever, but I started to understand the desire. Because I was like, “Even if I spend the rest of my life with this man, I want more.” Right? Like, you know, even if it’s 30, 40 years, like—that’s not enough. Like, I want to explore the world with him forever. And I don’t think I’ll ever get bored.

And I told him about that. And I don’t remember exactly what he said. But, he didn’t object. And so that’s like how I was thinking at the time.

 

It also really drove home just how precarious his medical situation was in the United States. And the fact that he did not have access to adequate and affordable care.

And we had been talking at that point for a couple of years about him moving to Canada, but that crisis really created some urgency to that conversation and, and really made it like—oh, this needs to happen soon. Not just in case he gets sick again and needs care. But if he had had cancer, he would have been inadmissible to the country. And so the thought that he could have another health problem that could actually make it impossible for him to move was really scary and, and really led to this sense that like, okay, so we need to move ahead with this plan, like now, and get him into the country as soon as possible. Because once he’s in, he can’t be refused again. 

And, and so I think we made some choices in the aftermath of that, that sort of rushed things and ended up in this really toxic situation of feeling sort of trapped by bureaucracy that we ended up in later, that I’ll talk about.

 

So I remember this conversation, where we were in my bedroom. And he asked me what I wanted for our future. And I said, “Well, I feel like my choices are really limited, in terms of what I can say I want. Because we both have so many other commitments that this relationship has to fit around those.”

And he said, “Well, you know, blue sky it. If there were no limitations, if you could have anything that you wanted, what would you want?”

So he gave me that invitation to pretend that, that there were no other commitments, no limitations. 

And I said, “Well, I would want to live with you and be your life partner.”

And he said, “Okay!”

And I was like, “But you live with Vera. You had a commitment ceremony with her. Didn’t you commit to being her life partner?” He was like, “No.” I was like, “Did you commit to anything specific?” And he was like, “No.” I was like, “Okay.”

And I hadn’t seen their vows. I don’t know what they committed to.

So I was like, “So you’re not breaking any promises if you like—” And he was like—I, I don’t remember like, the exact details of the conversation. So what I’m describing is like sort of the gist that I remember. But I do remember like—and he said, you know, he came back to his whole thing about like, “We are so extraordinarily compatible. We are so good at living together. We’re so good at travelling together. So few people are as compatible as we are.” This is like, this really precious thing. And he just didn’t have the same thing with, with Vera.

Like, I don’t remember what he said about her. But it was along the lines of that, the life that she wanted wasn’t the life that he wanted. And it was sort of framed as that he wanted to transition with her into not being nesting partners. So I was like, “Okay.” In my mind it wasn’t like, “Oh, he’s leaving her to be with me.” It’s oh like, well, well they have transitioned away from a place where they want the same things in their life. And so it’s time for their relationship to change. Like, their nesting partnership isn’t working. Was the story that I understood to be the case at the time.

We agreed that he wanted to move in with me. So then it was just a matter of logistics and timing. And I started reaching out to immigration consultants to try to figure out what the best way to facilitate that was gonna be.

 

So during that year, we did this small business incubator. And so for several months he was at my house a lot, for like, you know, sometimes weeks at a time. And so it was sort of the beginning of us almost living together. And I remember one of the things that had always been frustrating to me once we started spending more and more time together was this sort of sense of—that he was always kind of oblivious to whatever else I was doing or involved in or focused on when he wanted my attention.

So like, if I was cooking—I might be in the middle of like transferring something from the oven, and he would like walk in and start talking to me and like, expect my attention right in that moment. There wasn’t an awareness of like, oh, maybe wait until the hot thing is on the counter and then say, “Hey, are you busy?” 

But it was just like—it’s hard to describe. Because like, it’s great for your partner to want your attention. And you know, I know the basics of Gottman, and I know that I’m supposed to respond to my partner’s bids for attention, and I always tried to do that. But it was sort of this lack of attunement, this lack of understanding where I was at, or what I was doing. And like this sense of like, constant availability. And of course I wanted to be constantly available to him, because I want to be a secure partner to him. But there wasn’t this sense of reciprocity, or sort of idea that he needed in any way to be aware of my own mental state, or what I was doing.

So it was sort of like a toddler. It was connection-seeking in the way that a two-year-old would seek a connection. So it was a real genuine bid, and I always saw it as very sweet, but also sometimes just so, so tiring, you know—like trying to be constantly attuned and responsive to this person who is not sort of reciprocating that attunement and responsiveness.

But there was one episode in particular that I remember really clearly, where I was doing laundry. And I was walking into the hallway, and my arms were filled with a full basket of laundry. And he walked into the hallway, and he blocked my path. And he just started talking to me like there was nothing going on, like I wasn’t standing there in the hallway with a full basket of laundry in my arms.

And I was like, “Hey can I talk to you when I’m done doing this?” And I think I even smiled when I said it. And he just sort of collapsed, his face just—and he just sort of like backed off like, “Oh, okay.” And then I went and I did the laundry.

And like right after that, we left the house to go somewhere. We were getting ready to leave, and I was putting the laundry on before we left. So we were walking to the SkyTrain, and he was completely cold and withdrawn and hard. And I was like, “What’s, what’s going on?” And he was like, “Well, you know, you should know what’s going on.” And I’m like—and I’m paraphrasing here, I don’t—I remember the emotional content of the conversation, but I don’t remember a lot of the words. But that was very much the tone of it, was like, “Well, you should know.” And I’m like, “No, I don’t, I don’t know. Why are you upset?” And he’s like, “Well, it’s what you just did.” And I was like, “What did, what did I just…do?”

And you know, he was angry at me for brushing him off, I guess. And I was like, “But I was in the middle of something I needed to finish.” “Well, it’s not what you did. It’s how you did it.” And I was like, “Okay, what did I do wrong?” And he’s like, “Well, you should, you know, if you don’t know what that is, then that’s even worse.” And I’m like, “Oh. Okay. I really don’t know.”

And at this point, I’m like starting—he’s like so angry at me, and I’m like starting to cry. And I’m starting to cry because I’m angry, but I’m also starting to cry because like, oh, I’ve really hurt him, and he isn’t telling me why. And I’m getting the sense that like, it wasn’t about what I did, but about who I am. And I wish I could remember the words, and I don’t. But he was like, “It’s your body language and your expression.”

He was just so upset with me about the way I had expressed that boundary to him and thought that I should just know what it was, and I should examine my own behaviour.

And I’m like, I remember like, this just happened. Like I remember just say—like smiling, and saying like, “Hey, I need to finish this thing.”

So I was confused and crying. And I remember in that moment—remembering what he had written in The Game Changer about Ruby, and about how he had treated her. And particularly a scene that he described of walking through like a Ren Faire or something, and verbally abusing her for something he imagined that she’d done. And I was thinking to myself, like, “Oh—oh. Is that, is that what he did? Is this what she experienced?” Because it very much matched the description of that scene.

And I think I apologized, and—but I think I was also defending myself. Like, “I don’t know what I did wrong,” but like—but I know that I was just like so confused and upset. And then all of a sudden, he like just again flipped on a dime, just transformed, and was like, suddenly so sorry and apologetic and like, “Oh, oh, I’ve really, I’ve really hurt you. I’ve really”—again, I can’t remember what he said, but it was like, all of a sudden he realized that what he was doing wasn’t okay. And that, you know, he’d put me—I think he might’ve even said this again, “I put you in a terrible position.” And I’m like, “Oh, okay. Okay. So this, so we’re okay now.” You know, so. And he apologized, and then we were okay. And I was, and I experienced that, you know, incredible relief. 

But then it helped plant one of those little seeds of like, monitoring my behaviour. So then, ever after that, when I would set a boundary with him, I would always make sure that I was smiling. I would always make sure that I made eye contact, that I was like, still present, even when I was needing to set a boundary.

 

SEPTEMBER–NOVEMBER 2015

Fall 2015 was when The Game Changer was published. And that was also when we went on a book tour for both More Than Two and The Game Changer in Europe. So we had hired someone in the UK to essentially manage the tour, and manage the events. So that was a lot of, a lot of work off, off my plate. But I was still handling all of the logistics, like getting us from city to city and booking our hotels and stuff.

And it was a lot more work than the original book tour, because we were travelling on foot, by transit rather than in a vehicle, with our home on wheels. So it wasn’t a matter of like, drive between destinations and sleep in the van. It was like, going from train to hotels, and I had to check itineraries, and if we missed a train, we would be late. And so it was just like, massively more amounts of work and stress. And he wasn’t doing any of that.

I mean the tour was exhausting enough as it is, just being on the tour. And so he was exhausted, but I was like exhausted plus I was the one being the manager. 

 

I remember a conversation with him, and this was about halfway through the Europe tour. And I think it was after this particularly mind-bending day of travel, trying to get from Belgium to Amsterdam, and missing a train and trying to get to an event, and all of this stuff. And at one point, he turned to me and he said, “You handle everything so calmly. Like, nothing phases you. You just, you just deal with things, and you handle it.”

And he said that that was something that he really admired about me, and that that was one reason why he enjoyed working with me and enjoyed travelling with me, was that I was just always so collected, and that I would just deal with these things and say, “Okay, what do we do next?” Right?

And, and I believe, it was either in that conversation or it, another—he mentioned this several times. And I do remember that there were times when he would make that in the context of a positive comparison with one of his other partners. For example, Sylvia, who would always get angry with him when he made mistakes, or when he lost his way, or who was impatient with him, or who you know, would lose her temper. And so, leading me to feel like I was the calm and stable and collected person in the polycule. But you know, it’s just, again, really interesting, the contrast between what he was saying to me at the time and then what his narrative became later—that you know, I was like, flying off the handle all the time and so unstable and would go crazy at little things. 

 

Before we left, I had asked him, “Do you need to spend any extra time in the UK in order to spend time with Sylvia?” And he said, “No.” And I thought that was a little odd, but I was like, “Okay.”

So we actually booked events in the U.S. on either side of the Europe tour. So we were bookended and didn’t have flexibility for him to stay. And then I said, “Well, we’re spending two weeks in the UK. So if Sylvia wanted to travel with us, or stop by one of the cities or something to spend time with you, that would be totally fine.”

So the next thing I know, I got a message from Sylvia saying that Franklin’s invited her to travel with us in Europe. And I was like, “Wait, wait, wait.” Because the Continental Europe part of the tour was way more densely packed and intense, not just in terms of events, but in terms of logistics, than the UK part of the tour. And that had not been what I had told Franklin that she was welcome on.

And it wasn’t anything personal. It was just like, “I’m at my limit already of what I can manage.” And I told him that. And he was like, “But your girlfriend’s travelling with us.” Which was true—like, she was coming on part of the tour with us. And I’m like, “Well, like, yes, and I’m already at my limit. Like she’s part of that limit. But also, you know, I am an introvert and I’m—we’re doing this incredibly intense social, public thing, and I’m going to need recharge time. And I can do that with her because she is my partner, but I can’t do that with, like, other people.”

So he was like, you know, “I screwed this up, I’ll fix it.”

One of the things that I’m realizing is how much responsibility I take and have always taken for things that are really not my responsibility. I go back now to what I should have done, and all those other choices that I had that I didn’t see at the time. And so I think now, like, I could have just given them the itinerary and said, “Great. You two travel together. Here’s where you need to show up. I’ll see you at the events”—and let her handle everything. Right? ‘Cause he wasn’t going to handle it. But like she could get them from city to city.

But that didn’t even occur to me as an option at the time. It didn’t occur to me as an option to like, just say no and set a hard boundary and not take it on as a problem I needed to solve. But I did. And so I looked at our itinerary and I was like, okay, we have this two-day rest window in Rome, like three weeks into the trip. And like, maybe she could come and spend some of that time with Franklin, because we have that—I mean this is like, bananas, right? Our itinerary was so dense that we would be travelling for several weeks before we’d have like a couple of days off.

But I was like, “Yeah! I fixed it! I figured out a solution!”

And so I wrote to them and I was like, “We’ll be in Rome these days, and maybe you could come out and stay then.” And so that sort of started to be the plan.

And then we got to the UK, and had been there just a few days. And we’d done like two or three events. And I was already just so utterly exhausted. And like, realizing, like I was looking ahead at how much we had left to do, and realizing that not only was that gonna take all of the energy that I had, and a bunch that I didn’t have, but that Franklin and I were under enough strain, like relational strain, um, that, um—and this is like, this is gonna sound incredibly selfish, but at the same time it was like…well, I’m just going to say it.

I was like, “I am going to need that time with him in Rome. We are doing this thing together. It is a work trip. It’s something we committed to. We’re spending five weeks working. This is our only chance to relax a little bit and be together, and I am going to need that time, and I can’t give that up.” 

And so I told Franklin that, and again, he was confused. And I did ask, like, “Has she bought her ticket yet?” And she hadn’t. And I was just like, “You know,  I’m really sorry. And we’ll make this up somehow. But this is too much for me.”

And it honestly didn’t feel fair for us to spend five or six weeks like, working nonstop together. And then for the one opportunity that we had to not be working together, for him to go off and spend that with another partner.

I don’t know. Like I still don’t, like I have questioned this decision, and I felt so guilty about it for so long. But at the time it was like, “This is what I need to do to preserve my own sanity.”

And I mean, I also realize now that…I was trauma bonded. And so in order to sort of endure the stress of that trip, I was relying on proximity to him, and support from him. And, I mean, maybe that’s normal. Like maybe it’s normal to feel that way. Like maybe it’s not ‘cause I was trauma bonded. Maybe it was because he was my partner, and we were doing this incredibly stressful thing, and I just needed him, and it’s normal for me to need him. But like, I don’t even know anymore right? Because I’ve been pathologized to the point where like, I don’t know. But that was how I felt. And I had been ignoring my own needs and taking care of other people, and I just, like, “This is where I’m drawing the line.”

So we had a couple of events, and then she met us in Leeds, and we spent an evening together. And then he went off with her to spend a few days in Manchester with her. And so that was like our first break of a couple of days. But like during that break, he went off with her, and I went up ahead of him, to Edinburgh, and had a couple of days off in Edinburgh by myself. And then he came up and met me.

You know, later, he told me, “She got the best of me on this trip.” Right? Like that was the last window of time when he like, had bandwidth or like energy, and then the rest of it was just like working and exhaustion. So she got that. But I don’t think she ever saw or understood that.

So anyway, this conversation was happening over text about what was gonna happen in Rome. And so again, he was like, “This is my fault. I put you in a terrible situation. I take responsibility, I’ll fix it.” So I felt like, massive relief at that. But then it turned out that that was not how she interpreted what happened. Like, what she heard was that, you know, he was basically like, “Well, Eve says you can’t come to Rome.”

And so—God, I think back, and I think about like, how much mental energy I devoted to this conflict, and to stressing out about it and to doing the right thing, and to trying to like—like I was really trying to figure out like, where is my absolute bottom line, and is my bottom line even where I think it is, or can I give up more?

So she and I had a chat conversation, and I remember—I think it happened while we were in Durham. And I tried, you know, she wanted to know why I had set that boundary. And then she’s like, “Well, are you gonna pay for him to come back?” I was like, “I dunno?”

She was like, “Well, your emotional boundaries are meaning that I can’t spend time with my partner. So, you know, I think you’re responsible for making sure that we have time together.” And I’m like, well, he already told me that like he didn’t need to—like I offered him the opportunity to stay, and he said he didn’t need to do that. 

So I felt like—there was a lot of stuff that—like, I felt responsible, but also I feel like I was being made responsible for things I wasn’t responsible for. Like basically the fact that he simply never prioritized their relationship at all, and always relied on either her or other people to make sure they had time together?

So we were arguing; I wasn’t feeling heard. She called me a snowflake. And he’s sitting next to me in the bed, and he’s like feeling me get more agitated. And he looks over at me, and he’s like, “You know, if you want her to see or hear you, you’re wasting your breath.”

And like, this was his whole narrative about her, was that like, she was not really capable of seeing other people’s perspectives, or hearing or understanding other people. And this was part of the like, well, “Why are you with someone who so completely lacks empathy?”—you know, not in relation to this conversation, but the broader picture. Like, this is something that would come up multiple times, was his feeling that she never really saw him.

So anyway we, we had this argument. And one of the things that came up during the argument was that I said, “Franklin told me that this was his decision, and he takes responsibility for it.” And she was like, “No, he told me that this was your decision.”

And so, she said at the end of the conversation that that was helpful, that the conversation had been helpful. I didn’t feel like anything was really resolved. I didn’t really feel like we had left the conversation on good terms. And I was pretty upset about it, because up until that point I had felt like we’d had a pretty good relationship. And it just seemed like that sort of tanked at that point.

My relationships with my metamours were pretty valuable to me. And especially, given the fact that Vera and I were on the rocks. I was like, well my other metamour relationships are all the more important, ‘cause it was almost like I need to show that I can have good relationships with my metamours. So like, every conflict was way amplified for me in my mind, because I was terrified that I would screw up, or that I would be hierarchical, or pull priority, or pull—like I felt like I was, I felt in this whole situation like I was kind of “pulling rank.” And yet I keep thinking like, it wasn’t actually my responsibility to make time for them to see each other. Like, you know, I don’t, I don’t know. You can hear that I’m still conflicted over the whole thing, you know, God, four years later.

Like, I can put myself outside of the situation—and it took me a long time before I could really do that—and I can look in, and I can say like, “I spent five or six weeks working nonstop to make this tour happen and to make sure our needs were taken care of every minute of every day and that we made it to every event on time. And I was completely exhausted, and the one time that I was gonna have to relax with my partner, he wanted to leave with another partner.” And that, like there are a lot of people who would look at that situation and say, “Well that would be a really shitty thing for him to do.” Right?

And there are other people, particularly in sort of non-hierarchical poly circles, who would look at the other way around and say, “Well, this was her only time to be with her long-distance partner. And the primary-slash-nesting partner pulled rank and said, ‘No, you have to be with me then’”—they would look at that as a shitty thing to do. I don’t know, but what I do—

Louisa: And I think that’s, that’s okay. I mean, the thing is, it’s, when people have deeply incompatible values and outlooks on life, there is no resolution.

Eve: Yeah. Well I don’t even think that we’re—it was incompatible though. Because I actually, like, I did, I do still lean towards a non-hierarchical view, and I do lean towards the idea that she should have had the opportunity to have him spend time with her prioritized. But the problem is I was the one being asked to give something up and do the work. And this was in a context where not only was he not doing the work, but he had simply never prioritized their relationship. So like, I was being asked to prioritize it in a situation where he wouldn’t. Right?

Louisa: Yeah. And I think that is absolutely clear. When you look at it from the perspective of the emotional labour and the management that, that you were forced to do for every little thing, then it’s totally clear that your position is the more valid…

Eve: Mmhmm..

Louisa: And that’s what it comes down to.

Eve: Yeah. And then there was—then there was the thing that actually happened in Rome. Which was—I mentioned that The Game Changer came out in September 2015. So at the time Franklin was still, like, his house was still our sort of Portland warehouse. And so he still had books at his house, and he was making deliveries to local bookstores and stuff. And so someone had wanted a box of books, and they’d sent a purchase order, and he was supposed to deliver it before he left on the tour. And he told me he had. And I remember feeling a little bit weird about it at the time that he told me he’d done it, because the timing didn’t seem right. Like in terms of what I knew that he was doing at the time and the commitments that he had and how much time had passed.

I was like, “Are you sure you delivered those books? Like, are you sure you had time to?”

And he was like, “Yup, yup.” He, he told me multiple times that he’d delivered them. And so I was like, “Okay, great.”

And so, you know, we’re on the tour. We get to Rome—we’re like five weeks into the tour at that point. And I got a message from the bookstore saying, “Hey, we never got those books we ordered.” And I was like, “Okay.” Like, “He told me he delivered them.”

And so I went to him and I said, “You know, they say they didn’t get those books that you said you’d delivered.” And he’s like, “Oh yeah, I didn’t deliver those.” I was like, “What?” He’s like, “Well, I didn’t have time.” And I’m like, “Okay…but then why didn’t you just tell me that you didn’t have time? Cause I could have arranged for someone else to do it, or to have some shipped.”2

He did his deflecting-sideways-sidestep thing. And so I got pissed, ‘cause I’m like, this is supposed to be our break in Rome. And now suddenly I’m like, trying to figure out how to get these people their books that he had told me he—and he’d lied to me. Like he actually like, lied to me. For no reason, because he could have just told me he had not done the thing, which would have given me an opportunity to fix it weeks before.

And I was just furious. I was just like, “I have been working so fucking hard. And like, I needed you to do this one thing—or even be honest with me if you couldn’t do it. And you couldn’t do either of those things.” And it was just like, one of the points at which I just started to feel like, so alone, and so much like I was carrying all of this weight all by myself, and like didn’t have a real partner in that, even though we were business partners and coauthors. It was like, the relationship was so unequal in terms of labour and responsibility.

I was furious. But I had been already kind of been taught that like, I wasn’t allowed to express that, or that there was something wrong with me for feeling that. Or like, I needed to process through it by myself so I could come and talk to him calmly. So I was like, “I’m gonna go out. I’m going to go spend the morning by myself.”

But I was like seething inside. I wasn’t expressing that in any way. Like you know, shouting or any of the things that he says I do. I was just like, quietly seething, trying to get ready to get out of the house.

So I told Julian, my girlfriend who was there with us, I was like, “I’m going to spend the morning by myself.” We had plans to go visit the Forum, and I was like, “You guys go do that; it’s fine. I’ve visited it before.”

And then Franklin came into the bathroom where I was getting ready to go, and he like—he had this look. This like stony, furious, like very intent look on his face. And he didn’t say anything, but he like, took my hand. And it was just like this weird feeling of like, “I have to follow him. This is going to happen and I can’t do anything about it.”

And he took me downstairs. We were in an apartment that was two floors, and he and I were sleeping downstairs, and Julian was sleeping upstairs. And he took me downstairs, and we sat down on the bed and he’s like, “What’s wrong?”

So like notice here that like, I’ve set a boundary of “I am going to go out and spend some time by myself.” And I had done that so that I could get a handle on my feelings, so that I could express my frustration to him in a more, like, calm and measured way. And he had intercepted that and made me go downstairs to like, confront the situation right then while I was still spun up and angry.

So I said, “Well, I feel like the only people I can rely on are people I’m paying.”

And he got, he really stiff—I remember his back stiffened, and he kind of pushed his chest out, and he said, “That’s the most offensive thing anyone’s ever said to me.”

And I felt this like intense wave of terror. Because, you have to remember, I’ve spent the last five weeks listening to him read from The Game Changer over and over and over again. And one of the scenes that he’d been reading was the scene in the car with Celeste, where she said something to him that resulted in him immediately asking for a divorce.

And so when he said, “That’s the most offensive thing anyone’s ever said to me,” my mind immediately went to that scene in the car with Celeste. And I was like, “Oh shit, he’s going to break up with me.” Because I’d internalised this idea that like, that was going to happen.

Louisa: You have to be perfect.

Eve: Yeah. And so, you know, I tried to…I remember…I’ve—a lot of the conversation is really fuzzy. And I started trying to explain why I was upset about him lying to me about the books, and how I felt like he was not reliable and so often would not do the things he said he did. And he was like, “No, I usually do the things I say I’m going to do, like you’re—” I don’t remember what he said, but he was you know, kind of denying it.

And at one point, I don’t know if I raised my voice or not. I was getting pretty agitated, but I definitely did not yell. I was—like, God, this is ridiculous that I’m even saying this, but like, I know that I was probably talking like I am right now. Because I’m feeling myself get emotionally agitated into that space. So whatever my voice is doing now is what it was doing with him.

And he looks at me, and he goes, “Do not yell at me. I’m not one of your employees.”

And I was like internally, like, stop, record scratch—what the fuck’s going on? Like one, I know I’m not yelling. Two, I’ve never yelled at any of my employees. That’s not something that I do, right?

And I don’t really remember what happened at that point. But I do remember starting to panic and starting to cry and starting to apologize. And at some point during the conversation, it became about me apologizing for being angry and for confronting him.

Cause he was doing that thing that I’ve written and talked about, where he like, goes away, and that Lauren described where he’s, like, he’s gone, he’s just gone. And he’s like cold, and he’s mean. And it’s like, my partner’s not there anymore. And it’s terrifying, cause it’s like normally he’s this warm, soft, loving, charismatic person, and then suddenly he’s not there. And so I was scared. 

And so at the point where I was like breaking down and crying, that was the point at which he like came back and held me and comforted me. And it was sort of like, we’d established that I was in the wrong, and that and that I was just weak and unstable. And he could come and take care of me, and now we were okay again.

And I asked my girlfriend a long time after the breakup, when he’d started making these accusations of me like screaming at him and stuff. I was like, “You were in the apartment at the time that we had that argument in Rome. Did you hear screaming?” And she was like, “No.” I was like, “Did you hear raised voices?” And she said, “No.”

And I mean, you know, we were downstairs, but there was no doorways—like if there had been screaming, she would have heard it.

And she said, “I saw you crying. And I saw him comforting you. That’s what I saw: you were crying and he was comforting you.”

And I was like, “Okay, so you didn’t even know we’d had a fight?” And she was like, “No.”

He still thinks of Rome as a time when I was out of control and bullied and abused him. 

And I don’t know. I have a witness.

I’m telling those stories from Europe because they play into things that happen later. But I think that closes up the greatest hits of 2015 for me.

 

1. This is what I remembered Franklin telling me, but Rose says thats not how she remembers it happening. See her testimony for her perspective.
2. This wasn’t the first time that year Franklin had lied to me in this way. Earlier that summer, I had travelled to Portland to help fulfil the crowdfunding campaign discussed earlier. I had asked Franklin to prepare the mailing labels and acquire the supplies before I arrived, so we could use my time there to pack and ship. He confirmed that he had done so. When I arrived in Portland, he had not begun printing the labels, and only had some of the supplies. We spent the time scheduled for packing with him printing labels and me shopping for supplies, and I had to spend my scheduled free day in Portland doing the actual packing and shipping (he, of course, was not available to help that day).

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