Episode 5

Eve’s Relationship Testimony With Franklin Veaux

Interviewed by Louisa Leontiades on August 25, 2019, and by Kali Tal on September 14 and October 19, 2019. Scroll down for audio. 

Eve: Another thing that I wanted to talk about was something that happened in early 2016. Where we went to Florida for several weeks. And of course, I had set up that whole trip, and planned it all out to make sure that he could see his partners and his parents. And we went to a con together.

But there were two things about that trip that stick out for me. One was that, by this time, Amber was acting really distant with him, and he was clearly very confused about that relationship, and I was confused. And so I strongly encouraged him to try to have a clarifying conversation with her during that visit, about what their relationship was and what she wanted out of it, and things. And they did have that conversation. And I know that Amber’s wife was present during the conversation. 

And the way he characterized it to me after was essentially that she felt distant from him because she had internalized this idea that the relationship with him had somehow led to the abuse that she experienced in a later relationship. Which I thought at the time was crazy. I was like, “Why would she blame you for that?” And that the reason that she gave for why she felt that way was that [when] she’d been in a toxic situation with him, she’d been able to tell him what went wrong, and he made the changes to make it better. And so she believed that that was the case in the other relationship too, and stayed way too long. 

Now, of course, in the correspondence there’s more discussion of that conversation. But I just thought that sounded so like, I don’t know—it felt like an excuse to me, and it sounded really irrational.

But the other thing that he said was that she said that they were still partners, and that her wife had said that she considered him a metamour. 

So I was like, okay, so they’re still partners, and they’re still a family, and he’s still—if Amber’s wife considers him a metamour, then I guess there’s like—I may not understand it, but I respect it, right? 

But the other thing that happened was we went to this con with Amy. And we’re sort of negotiating time and space and then spending time together. And I was like, she’s the long-distance partner. I want her to have priority for whatever she wants.

And there was this one day when he told me that they were making plans to have sex that day, and then they were gonna work on their podcast together. And I was like, “Cool, have fun. I want to reconnect with you when that’s all done. If you guys are open to it, when you get to the point where you’re starting work, if you’re just working quietly, I would love to join you. And we could all work together.” And he said sure. And he said that he would message me when they switched to work mode.

And that was noon, or early afternoon. So he went to her room, and hours and hours went by, and I didn’t hear anything. And I didn’t want to bother them, ‘cause I figured they were still having sex. It got to be evening, and then night, and there was a party downstairs, and I got dressed up and I went down to the party. And I get down there, and Amy’s there, also all dressed up, alone.

And I was like—I don’t know, I was really, I was—it was very disorienting, you know? And so I went up to her, and I was like, “Hey, where’s Franklin?” And she was like, “Oh, he’s up in the room, working.” And I was like, “Oh.”

And I just felt disoriented, and sort of like the ground was falling out from under me. Like, they disappeared for hours, and then he promised to check in with me, and he didn’t. And I come down here, and she’s here, and—I don’t know, I just—I was very confused.

So I went upstairs, and I found him. I knocked on their door and he told me, “Oh,” like, “We actually didn’t have sex. We just ended up working all afternoon.”

And I was like, “Really?”

It wasn’t that like, I would’ve been upset if they decided they wanted to work alone, or he’d decided he wanted to work alone. It was just that he hadn’t texted me to be like, “Hey,” you know, “I’m feeling introverted today. We’re just going to work by ourselves.” Or…something to inform me, rather than leaving me for like eight, nine hours without knowing what was going on, thinking that something else was going on than what was, and then leaving me to sort of discover it and put the pieces together later. Especially because I had specifically asked for reconnection.

And this was a case where him relaying the story, he would gaslight me. Because what he would say was, I expected to be part of that time. Or that I wasn’t okay with them having that time, or something like that. When in fact it was just that I had expected information that hadn’t been given to me, and then I was left to sort of deal with the information gap.

Whereas if he just set the boundary, and been like, “Hey, we’re just gonna work alone, enjoy the con.” I was sort of left hanging, like, do I do something else? So yeah, just to have had that information would have really helped.

I started to cry. I didn’t understand why I was crying at the time. But I understand now, I was crying cause I had been disrespected, right? But what I said was, “Oh, I’m feeling jealous.” 

He like, you know, held me for awhile. And then I felt okay. And I felt so grateful that, you know, I had a partner who was so understanding when I admitted these jealous feelings—took care of me. And then I think I ended up just going to bed. Like, I didn’t even go back to the party. ‘Cause I just, I felt kind of wrung out. 

 

He moved to Canada in July of 2016 and moved into our house. So I worked with a consultant who kind of looked at our whole situation and, and said, “Well, you have this business that you own together in the States. And then you, Eve, have this business that you own privately in Canada. The best way to do this is for you to merge the businesses, and then bring Franklin as an employee of the company.”

So I remember having this meeting—this happened in early 2016—where it was my Canadian business lawyer, my company’s Canadian accountant, Thorntree Press’s American accountant and our immigration consultant all in a room together, like the most expensive meeting ever, hashing out—we were gonna do everything completely above board and legally. And so it’s like, “How do we structure this to make this work?” And make sure that the position is funded and all of this stuff?

 

In June 2016 we merged the companies. He was made a job offer as the publishing manager of the company. Essentially it was a senior management position that was roughly equivalent to mine. And then once he was in the country, there was another program that we were going to apply for that would give him permanent residency. So as soon as he arrived, we started working on the paperwork for that other program. The hope was that he would get his residency within a year, and then sort of do whatever he wanted, because he would be in the country. 

In the first couple of months there was just a ton of work that we were both doing to integrate him, make space for him in the house. Then there were some renos that we were doing, and to sort of integrate him into everything. And there was also something that happened that summer that sort of sparked off this whole other chain of events, which was—we were we were at this festival, this dance festival, and we were—

Kali: Do you know about when that was?

Eve: August 2016. And we were really happy and buzzy and might’ve been slightly tipsy, and we were sitting all surrounded by all these dancing people, and these twinkle lights and stuff. And I don’t know what made me think this, but we were talking about our future and stuff, and some reason, it just came out of my mouth. Like, “Oh, you know, you could totally marry Amy, and then she could immigrate with you. And you could both live up here.”

And in my mind, like—Amy was still the one of my metamours that I felt like I had a good relationship with. And so the idea of having a supportive metamour who I had a good relationship with living nearby and having like, a happy little poly family was extremely appealing. In sort of this spirit of generosity, I was like, “Hey, this would be amazing!” And he was like, “That’s a great idea!” And he like texted her, and he’s like, “Hey, you want to get married and come to Canada with me?” And she texted back “Yes.” And so suddenly they were engaged!

That would turn out to be an incredible source of drama. And of course, I should’ve known—feel like now, like, I should’ve known, like—that word, “marriage,” changes things. Even when you say it won’t.

So over the next few months, a few things happened. The program that he was going to immigrate through was suddenly cancelled. And so we had to find a plan B. And the plan B involved him having to get a university degree. He started applying to a program that would allow him to use his transfer credits and hopefully get him a degree very quickly. We decided that they would get legally married right away, so that whenever he was ready to apply, they could apply together as a couple. Them immigrating together was much easier than him immigrating and then sponsoring her as his wife.

So we flew to Florida, and they were married in the courthouse with his parents. Of course I made 90% of the logistical arrangements for us to do that.

The other thing that started to happen at that time was that he was not actually doing his job. But he would do some of it.

I started making excuses for him. Like all the time that he was spending on Quora answering questions. I was like, “Well, social media is part of his job…so I guess we can call that part of his job?” And like, he was spending a lot of time writing. And I’m like, “Well, technically he’s not being paid for writing—maybe it’ll make us some money.”

But I was picking up more and more of the slack. And over the months, and the following year that passed, my employees—cause I had other employees—started asking me like, “So what does Franklin…do…for the company?”

He was supposed to be managing the company with me. It was a senior role, and we were supposed to be leading the company together. And it really wasn’t what was happening.

He would take off to go to Portland for a week. And he’d say like, “Oh, I’ll still be working when I’m in Portland.” And sometimes I would like, find tasks that he could do when he was in Portland. But mostly he was just off during that time. Even if I would ask him questions over text about projects, sometimes it would take him hours to answer, even if I knew that he was on Quora, or whatever, so I knew that he was on his phone. This happened over the course of a year, but I became sort of increasingly frustrated and ground down, because I was doing two jobs, essentially. And paying him a salary. 

And I would try to talk to him about—I would like, sit down with him, and I would try to explain how much stress I was feeling, and how I needed help with the companies. He would always deflect. And one of the things he would deflect with is, “Oh, you need to hire an assistant.” Like, what? Like one, I have an assistant. Two, I have a business partner, and my business partner is not being my partner. Right? I wasn’t as clear—because the deflection would happen in this Franklin, sort of slippery way, where you, suddenly you’re not talking about the thing you were talking about five minutes ago, it was never quite that clear. Right? So we would like have these conversations that would veer off down these rabbit holes and never get back to what I was trying to talk about, and never feel resolved.

And the other deflection that he would use is, “Oh, we need to get Black Iron out.”

So like, his idea was like, we were gonna finish our novel, Black Iron. And it was going to be this huge success, and we would become these like, famous fiction writers and suddenly make lots of money, and then neither one of us would have to work anymore. And it’s like, well, okay—one, first of all, your visa depends on running a functional publishing company. Like, we have to continue to be engaged in that business, and you have to continue to be engaged in that business until you are a resident, which could take however long. And two, Black Iron won’t be out for another year and a half. And the money isn’t gonna show up for another year after that—if there’s even money. So what are we going to do in the interim?

Again, that wasn’t a conversation that would happen quite as clearly, because it was—I wish I could describe these sort of slippery dynamics that happened—but like, it just never gets that far. But I would just end up feeling frustrated and unheard and like the original problem was not being addressed, but somehow he’d managed to deflect the conversation.

And the thing with his trying to get his degree just stretched out forever and ever. And like, it took months for him to get responses from them, and it just seemed like it was never gonna come through.

I got to this point where I just felt so trapped. Because it’s like, our whole future was in limbo while we waited for his residency. And it was contingent on him getting this degree, and the university was being so unresponsive, and I didn’t know how long it was gonna last. And in the meantime, my life just became this complete, exhausting grind of—I was carrying him. Like at the end of the first year, I was just carrying him, financially—

Kali: A question about the degree program. When you’re saying the university was unresponsive. Did you know it was unresponsive because of your experience, or was that something Franklin was saying?

Eve: That is what he was saying. I don’t know what was going on there.

And I will say that I did pay fees for him. There were applications that he put in, and I paid the fees for those.

He did also agree with me that he would pay half of the expenses related to his immigration—so including the legal fees and accounting fees and the extra taxes that I had to pay as a result of the company reorganization. Of course later, he told me he felt that he had no responsibility for any of those. He never paid those or admitted any responsibility for it.

And I was carrying him at home, too. Like, he wasn’t doing housework. I was doing our laundry and washing the dishes. And because he was living with me and my husband, who I was separated from but still shared a home with, and I was trying to reduce conflict between them, it wasn’t like I could just let the house become trashed and live with it, or whatever. It was like, I felt like I had to clean up. I had to reduce friction by making sure everything stayed done, even when he wasn’t doing it.

So there was like, this just sort of background, increasing sense of like me just being tired, and carrying him. And feeling utterly, utterly trapped. Because I didn’t feel like I could change our situation, because his visa was dependent on it—and our future.

And so I was just like, “We just have to get through this. I just have to like survive this next year, or however long it is. And then everything will get better, because he’ll finally be a permanent resident, and we’ll have more choices.”

I didn’t even want to run the companies anymore. I was like, I just want to be done with them. I want to do something else. But I can’t stop, because of this situation that we’re in.

Meanwhile—so we did the legal wedding in Florida in December 2016. And Amy said that she wanted to do two other ceremonies. She wanted to do a big traditional wedding in California that her family was gonna come to. And she wanted to do a handfasting in Washington at the same festival that we’d been at when Franklin had proposed to her.

And it was never really clear to me what the intention of those was. And Franklin, in his private communications with me, never seemed really on board with them. It was always just like, “Oh, this is something Amy wants to do. And so I’m doing it.” Right?

And it just seemed—like, the picture of it that I was getting was just like, “It’s all her, she wants these ceremonies, but we’re not really getting married.” Like, we’re not really, but he kept telling me like, “You’re my life partner. I want to live with you. I want to grow old with you.” And then it became like, “I wish I were marrying you. I’d rather be marrying you. I’m just doing this ‘cause she wants it, ‘cause I have to.”

He was kind of acting like he was being coerced into it, or like he didn’t really have any choice. And I was, “You don’t want to do it, why don’t you just say that you don’t want to do it, and don’t do it?” And he’d be like, “Oh well that wouldn’t go over well.” And I’d be like, “Right? But you can still set a boundary about not wanting to do this thing.”

Then it became like, “Well, if I say no, then she’ll break up with me.” So okay, like, “If she would break up with you because you won’t have a ceremony that you don’t want, maybe you should break up,” right? “Then she won’t move to Canada, and then she won’t have healthcare, and she’ll die. And I don’t want her to die, ‘cause I love her.” I’m like, ”That makes no sense to me.”

But I would try to have conversations with him about like, “Why, what does this mean? What do these ceremonies mean to her? Why are you doing this?” They were sort of crazy-making. They just didn’t make sense.

And then like, he would say things like, “Oh, well, she just wants the pictures in case the immigration authorities want the pictures.” And I’m like, “You don’t need that, ‘cause you’re not sponsoring her.”

And then they were inviting people like, from all over the world to come to this. People were buying plane tickets to come to this wedding. And I’m like, “This isn’t fair to people if this isn’t actually meaningful in the way that they think it’s meaningful.” And that was sort of something that he, again, something that, like—that conversation would end up just sort of being slippery and deflected.

And so I just ended up feeling very confused. And also very invisible. Because it’s like, I’m the one here behind the scenes doing all of this intense labour, to like, maintain our lives and our future—and her future, because she was also going to benefit from immigrating. And they’re the ones having this huge public ceremony and all of this stuff. And yet he’s behind the scenes telling me, “You’re my life partner, and I wish I were marrying you.” And I just sort of had to be okay with being quietly invisible while all this stuff happened.

And then their plans for the wedding were that they were going to rent a big house that the whole polycule was gonna stay in. And then they were gonna have a big orgy on the wedding night.

And I was like, well, okay, I want to be part of the polycule, and I want to be part of the group, and the group plans. I don’t want to be in an orgy with my polycule. You know, I’m not super into that anyway, except in very specific circumstances. And there are some people in that group that I don’t want to watch having sex or [have them] watching me having sex. So I’m not down for that. I guess I can’t stay in the house.

And there wasn’t any conversation about like, “Hey, can we create a space for the polycule, and then like, have a space where people who want to engage in public sex could do that?” It was just like, “This is how it’s gonna be, and this is what the space is going to be like.” And I didn’t really feel like I could come back and be like, “Hey, can we maybe think about shifting that so that there’s the ability for people who aren’t as into that to be part of the group?” Because it was their wedding and their party and their wedding night, and who was I to say what they were to do about it?

So then I was like, “I guess…I’ll stay in a hotel. Come to the wedding and I’ll just stay nearby in a hotel,” which separated me from the group. And…there was just a lot in the discussions about that planning that I was really uncomfortable with. Like the sort of assumed intimacy and assumed that everyone would be into the group sex. So I ended up just bowing out of those conversations completely. And I was just, “I’ll come to your ceremony, but I’ll stay elsewhere.” But that created a real sense of separation from the polycule.

And, I was never like—like there’s nobody who like sort of expressly said that I was being uncool, but I sort of felt like I was being uncool, you know? Like, there was a sense that everyone was just sort of supposed to be with the program. And I wasn’t.

And so it got to the point where I was like—this is a couple months before the wedding. And I was looking at hotel prices and rental car prices and plane tickets and the cost of going to the two ceremonies, the festival and the one in California. And then I looked at how much I’d already spent going to Florida. And I was like, “This really doesn’t feel fair to me.” I’m supporting Franklin already. I’ve already paid for both of us to fly to Florida so he can get married once. Now I’m being asked to spend like, thousands of dollars more to go to these other two ceremonies. And I’m being told that this one in California isn’t even a real thing. Like it’s not, it’s like for her parents or like—again, the reasons kept shifting.

And so I was finally like, “You know what, I’m not doing this.” And it was associated also with like, the fact that I was gonna have to be staying at a hotel separate from the polycule, so I wasn’t going to be part of the group anyway.

I did have a conversation, as I was becoming more and more reluctant to go, with Franklin, where I was like, “How important is it to you that I actually come to this?” And he was like, “It’s important.” And I was like, “Can you tell me why it’s important?” And he was like, “Well, because I need you there to remind me why I’m doing this.” And I’m like, “What?” And he was like, “Well, because I wanna move to Canada and live with you and spend my life with you, so I have to do this.” And I’m like, “What are you talking about?” And he was like, “Because you don’t leave anyone behind, and we can’t leave Amy behind.” And I’m like, “Okay, but that still doesn’t say why you have to do this or like, why—like, don’t make this about me. Don’t make this about something you need to do with me. This has nothing to do with me.”

But so then I felt like, yeah, okay, I need to be there. Cause he says it’s really important, even though the reasons he’s telling me why it’s important make no sense to me. But then finally I was just like, “I can’t”—the whole thing just felt gross to me. Just, it just felt gross. There were just so many things wrong. And I was like, “I’m not doing this. I’m not going.”

Emailed them to say, “I’m not going, I’m not going to be in the wedding party, take me off your website.”

And I felt shitty about it, because it was like, this really important thing that was happening—but was also really fucked up.

And in the meantime, the wedding planning was going on. And Franklin would get a text message from Amy and be like, “Oh, Amy wants my attention again. She wants to talk about the—” like, he would always have this like, heavy, put-upon voice of like, “Oh, you know, she wants so much from me, like so into this ceremony that I’m not into.” And it was just like, “Why don’t you say no? Why don’t you just say no?” Right? If you really don’t want to do this?

So then that spring, my cat got really sick and almost died. Twice. She required pretty much round-the-clock care. She could only be alone for a few hours. There always had to be someone at the house. Franklin did help take care of her, which was immensely valuable at that time, to have three people to manage that load. But it was an incredibly stressful time, because I was so, so deeply bonded to her. And there were many weeks when I thought that I was about to lose her. And it was also one more thing that was added to the list of stresses and burdens that I was dealing with at that time.

So the time for the handfasting approached. And they had this whole plan that they were going to go to the wedding, and then they were gonna have a road trip up the coast to the festival. So the wedding was in California, and the festival was in Washington.

Franklin and I wanted to buy a camper van that we were gonna eventually live and travel in. And the plan was to buy that camper van sometime before the festival and bring it to the festival. And I had asked him very specifically, first of all, when he needed to leave to go to the wedding. And he had said, like, July 31st. And I had also asked him specifically—the day after the handfasting at the festival was our five-year anniversary. And his favourite band was going to be performing in Vancouver that night. And so I was like, “Do you have to do anything after the festival, or can you come straight home?” And he was like, “I don’t have to do anything after the festival. I can come straight home.” And I was like, “Okay, do you want to go to this concert with me to celebrate our fifth anniversary?” And he was like, “Yes.” So I got the concert tickets. 

And I held onto that so tightly. It was like, “I can get through all of this crazy shit, and we will have our night, our special thing that we’re going to do together and celebrate our relationship when this is all done. We have that. And I can just look forward to that.” And I held onto that, like so tightly, through so much shit.

So it’s like a week or 10 days before he has told me he’s leaving for California, and we have planned in that week or 10 days to like, go look for a camper van. And he comes into my room one night, and he was like, “Oh, Sylvia just messaged me to let me know she’s arriving in a couple of days. So I got a train ticket, and I’m gonna go down to Portland and meet her there and spend the week with her.” And I’m like, “Wait, what? You, you told, like, you told me that you—you gave me the date, you like, we had these plans.” But I didn’t have that initial reaction right away, because I had, by that time, like sort of already learned to repress my “Wait, what?” responses to things.

So I was upset. But I went out into the other room and tried to deal with being upset by myself until I could calm down and talk about it. And like, this is another dynamic that I’ve talked about in the previous recordings, is that he wouldn’t let me do that? He’d come and get me. And he did that same thing. He like, came and got me and sat me down and like, made me talk to him right then about what was going on.

And I’m upset, because he had been very specific about when he was leaving. And he had made these other plans without ever even coming in to talk to me about, like, “This new information has come up. Sylvia’s arriving in three days. What do you want to do about it?” Right? He just bought his ticket and then came in and told me that he was going to do it. But the way he framed that was like, that I didn’t want him to spend time with Sylvia, or that like, I didn’t respect, she’s long distance and she’s arriving from the UK and like, why wouldn’t he go do that? And I’m like, “I just wanted you to talk to me about it. Like, consider, you’re leaving me with all this work.”

And so this—I now recognize what was happening as gaslighting. I had a very specific problem with what he’d done, and he reframed it as me being jealous and not supporting the relationship and not wanting him to spend time with her, or wanting him to prioritize me over her. And it was just like, “Well no, but you have certain commitments. Can you at least acknowledge that’s gonna be affected when you make these choices, and talk through with me?”

And it was just sort of indicative of the whole dynamic, where he just always expected—he could do anything he wanted, and I would just handle it. It always defaulted to being my job to just make sure everything was okay, while he did what he wanted. And I never got that from him. I couldn’t leave. I couldn’t pick up for two weeks and leave my cat and my business. He would never be that kind of backup for me. But I was always assumed by default to be that kind of backup to him.

And so it became one of these things where he withdrew, he—I’ve talked about my experience that I call “the knife,” of him becoming withdrawn and hard and cold, and him being like, angry with me. And so then I’m panicked, because I’m like, “He’s gone.” And he retreats into like logic, where he demands that you explain yourself, and explain my feelings, or explain why things are not the way he says they are, like my feelings are not the way he says they are. Like crazy-making.

And I remember the interior experience of that, it was like this experience of my brain swirling in this like little whirlpool of like trying to chase around—like I couldn’t even think straight, like trying to chase around the thoughts and like try to untangle what it—like I look back now, and I’m like, it’s very clear to me, I can articulate what it was that was wrong with that situation. But at the time I could not articulate it, because every single thought that I had felt like it was wrong. Felt like it was not something that he could understand or accept.

And so my brain would go into the little spinny rainbow ball on your computer, right? And then I ended up crying and apologizing, and finally—it was like, he’d always sort of, come back when I started apologizing. Like he’d go into cold, knife mode. And then when I finally was broken down and crying and apologizing, then he’d come back, and he’d like comfort me, and he’d be like—“Oh, no, okay, he’s here now, and we’re okay.” And I’d just feel so much relief that like, he was back, and we were okay, and he still loved me, and he wasn’t going to stay in that place forever.

He was like, “Find a van before I leave.” So, we did in fact find a van in the next couple of days. And then he left for Portland. And then of course, I was left with the job of cleaning the van and outfitting the van and buying the furniture and all the fittings and all of the camping gear and everything to prepare it for the festival. It was frustrating because of the work. And it was also heartbreaking for me, because it was something that we were supposed to have done together, right? 

This ties back to like—I look now at the situation and I see the exit that was there, right? The boundaries that I could’ve set, all the way along the way, I look back now and I’m like, there were options available to me that I could not see. Like I could’ve just said, “Oh, you’re leaving. Well, we’ll have to get the van when you’re back, and I’ll bring a tent to the festival.” That was a choice that I didn’t see at the time!

And it’s just like, it’s so amazing to me how many doors were closed to me. Like I didn’t see that. And with the business stuff, there were choices, too, that I didn’t see. And the house stuff. There were so many choices, but I was just so focused on getting the next step, just taking the next step, just get through, get through, get through.

And it’s—a great analogy that I heard a long time ago is the map versus the terrain, right? It’s like, now I can kind of zoom back, and I can see the map. Oh, there was a road over there, or there was a path over there. Or I was scaling this wall, and like two feet away there was a river or something. But I was where I was, and all I could see was the obstacles, and I didn’t have the map.

So that was like, the context going into the handfasting. And more and more, I was just holding on, and was like, “Just get through. And we’ll have our date, we’ll have our anniversary, and then everything will go back to normal. Just get through.”

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