Eve’s Relationship Testimony With Franklin Veaux
Interviewed by Kali Tal on September 14 and October 19, 2019, with supplemental material recorded June 30, 2019.
Eve: I unfollowed him and all his polycule on social media when all of that was happening, because there was so much about it that was so weird. Like, just watching them projecting this image of this wedding out to the world that I was being told wasn’t real. And also being in this weird, invisible, marriage-like relationship with him, and also the exclusion of it. Like, knowing that I was not part of this important group bonding experience, even though there were very specific reasons why I felt like I couldn’t be, was all very hard for me. And so I just sort of checked out of it.
And I was still caring for Stella, my cat. And spending as much time with her as I could.
And this was also one of the years that the wildfires were really, really terrible. And like, the whole Pacific Northwest was just blanketed in smoke. And I was really struggling with that. And I was spending most of my time indoors in the house with Stella. So that had a negative effect on my mental health as well, just being trapped indoors, and not feeling like I could go out, and not riding my bike or anything like that. And when I would go out, I would start to feel this sense of unease, and like dread, that I think was resulting from the physiological effects of breathing in the heavy smoke.
So flash forward to—I did go to the festival, because it was driving distance, and we had the van that I had outfitted for us, and—so I got down there early. And I had asked Franklin, I had asked him over text. I was like, “I’m feeling pretty fragile. I need some attention from you. Are you going to be available to me at the festival to spend time with me?” And his response was, “Yes, I want to spend time with you.”
So I had heard that as like a commitment to spend some time with me, and reconnect. And so I got there and I set up the van, and then later in the evening they all sort of descended on the camp and set up around me. And I was happy to see everyone and excited like, to see the group and stuff, and things were going okay for a while.
And then—he had been traveling with one of Sylvia’s metamours. The person he calls his crush. And they had, for a couple of years, sort of bounced around the idea of whether they might ever be lovers, or connect in some way. And during that time that they had been travelling together, they had really bonded. And so when we were all at the site together, he was pretty much entirely focused on her. And even when he was looking at me or talking to me or paying attention to me, like his attention was being pulled away towards her. So he was not present with me. And he’d promised to spend time with me, but it was unclear when that was gonna happen.
And it was also just really jarring—really, really jarring—being suddenly in the group, which had its own completely separate reality from the one that I had been living in. And I don’t know how to describe just how—and it was so sexualized, as well. Like the whole dynamic in that whole group was so sexualized. And there was no opportunity for me to enter that dynamic in a way that let me have boundaries that I was comfortable with.
And again, I felt like if I was like, “Hey, maybe tone it down a little bit, guys?” like I would be the killjoy. And I didn’t want to do that, ‘cause it was their party. So I was extremely uncomfortable in this highly, highly sexually charged dynamic that I wasn’t part of. This fused, bonded group dynamic that I hadn’t been part of. This sort of, emotional absence of Franklin being pulled towards this other woman who he’s connected with in this time.
My need for connecting with him that he had promised me that he would fill, and was not doing. And then sort of the breaking point for me was finding out through one of the conversations that the group was having—and this is like, so tiny, but it was just like the final straw. You know, we had a song that was like, our song, or a special song. And he’d put it on the wedding playlist and he hadn’t told me. And I heard about it because the other women in the group had really loved the song and now wanted to play it, and were talking about it. And none of them knew that it was our song.
And I was just…I just…I broke, like, I just broke.
And the way that I broke—I didn’t freak out in front of people. But I was like, “I need to get outta here.” I told Franklin, “I’ve got to go home. I can’t stay for this.”
And by that time, it was late at night. And the van was set up with an awning up. So I couldn’t just leave that night. So it was like, I was gonna leave in the morning.
And I couldn’t explain to him why I needed to leave. I was just like, “I can’t be here.” And the festival is outside, and this is the first long period of time I’d spent outside since the smoke had started, and it was really bad. I was also having actual—like I couldn’t breathe. My chest was closing up, couldn’t breathe kind of thing. And I couldn’t articulate anything except “I just need to get outta here and I need to go home.”
And so he was hurt and upset about that. So at some point the group sort of went off to do its group thing, and he and I ended up in the back of the van talking. And then he told me, “Oh, Sylvia isn’t leaving until Tuesday night, so I’m going to go back to Portland with her to see her off.” And I’m like, “But you told me you were going to come.—like you told me, I asked you, ‘Do you have plans after the festival? Can you come home with me?’ Like we planned this.” And he was like, “Well it doesn’t matter, cause she’s going back to the UK.”
And I’m like, “What do you mean it doesn’t matter?”
And it came back to this whole like, “But you get me all the time and she only gets to see me once a year.” And, and he actually said to me at one point—he was arguing that I wasn’t seeing her perspective and I wasn’t supportive enough of her. And then he brought back the whole Rome situation. And he’s like, “She’s still hurt about that. And she thinks that you get everything you want and she doesn’t get to ask for anything.”1
And then he said, “The only thing that matters. The only thing that matters”—and I remember this conversation specifically, ‘cause he said that twice: that the only thing that matters, is that in three days she’s getting on a plane back to the UK. And I was like, “Okay, that’s the only thing that matters.” Right? Like that fact that this is the one thing I’ve been holding onto for months doesn’t matter. That without even talking to me, you’ve already promised her that you’re going to go back. And, now I have no say, and I just have to be okay with it.
And I was devastated, and I was hurt and angry. And I couldn’t fucking breathe. And I was panicked. I felt like I was going crazy because of the other stuff that was going on. And I remember just feeling so absolutely trapped. Like just absolutely trapped. In this tiny little enclosed space in the back of the van. And I know I completely melted down.
And he categorizes that, now, as me being angry, or flying into a rage. But it was so much more than that.
I specifically talked about this with my therapist,2 because one of the things that I did, because I felt trapped—so we’re on the bed, and he’s to my left, and the side of the van is to my right. And I started pounding my hand against the side of the van. And I think at one point I pounded my hand on the—on the mattress next to me.
And he looks up at me, and he’s like, “You just hit me.” Because his hand had been under the covers on the mattress where I’d pounded my hand. And I was like, “Oh my God, I just hit my partner. Holy shit. What have I done?” And then it just—that spiral in my head got even worse. I was like, “What am I doing? I’m being violent.” And I was so horrified and ashamed of what I had just done, I started apologizing and begging for his forgiveness, and crying.
And that’s pretty much what I remember of that night.
And I do remember repeatedly saying, “I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.” And he was giving me hits off of his inhalers and saying, “Yes, you can breathe, you can breathe.”
And finally, at first light, I packed up the van, and I drove—he didn’t have a place to stay, because he was supposed to stay in the van with me. I drove him down to the hotel where his crush was staying. I dropped him off at her hotel, and I drove home.
And I remember driving…like, just the shame that I felt. I just felt like I just wanted to die. I just felt so worthless. And so broken. And I didn’t understand—it was just like, “What’s wrong with me?”
And I remember driving home on the freeway and repeatedly thinking about driving the van off the road, just wanting to drive off the road and end it. And I kept thinking of Stella back home, and I was like, “No, she needs me. You need to get home to Stella.”
And then when I got home, I was like, “I am losing my mind. I need to get help.” And I thought about trying to check myself in to a hospital. I felt like if I did that—like somehow I was totally focused on what they would think. Like that I was being dramatic, or that I was ruining his weekend by doing this dramatic thing of checking—like I was just, it’s just amazing to me now. Like how focused I was on how they would react or how it would affect them if I got medical help for myself in the middle of this crisis.
So I just went home. And I went inside my house, where there was an air filter running and the air was clean. And I curled up in bed with Stella. And I just stayed there for the weekend.
Kali: A question. Do you actually think you hit him?
Eve: I believe he—well, I don’t know. I mean—
Kali: Did you feel his hand when you smacked down on the bed? Did you feel his hand?
Eve: No. So I don’t know. I don’t know.
But one of the things that, when I processed this with my counsellor afterwards—and this was months after the breakup, so this was like a year after this whole thing happened.
But I was like, “I don’t know if I was abusive.” And she was like, “Well, did you block his exit?” And I was like, “No.” “Did you tell him he couldn’t leave you? Did you try to keep him from leaving?” And I was like, “No.” She’s like, “Did you”— I can’t remember the questions that she asked me.
But I do remember her asking if I blocked his exit and I was like, “No…actually he was between me and the exit, and one of the reasons I was pounding on the wall was cause I felt trapped.”
Kali: Okay. So he was blocking your exit.
Eve: I mean, he wasn’t—he was between me and the exit to the bed. But he was not—I wouldn’t say it’s fair to say that he was blocking my exit in that he wasn’t like…it was just like the exit was…I mean, yes, he was, but it wasn’t being, like he wasn’t doing it in an intimidating way. It was just that the way we were aligned in the bed was that he was between me and the hallway into the—and I did have a door. Like, the wall of the van was a door that I could have opened and like, left through. But it didn’t feel that way to me at the time. It felt like a wall, you know?
Kali: And did he move away from you when you were doing this?
Eve: I mean it was very much, again, like a situation of like, the other times before, of, “I have to sit here and process this through with him until it’s done.” Like leaving or shutting it down or just, I don’t know, it just wasn’t an option, you know?
Kali: But he wasn’t backing up, when you started hitting the wall or anything. He stayed where he was. He didn’t back up?
Eve: Yep. Yeah. And I remember the way he said, “You just hit me,” that it was like, very calm and surprised and accusatory. I don’t know how to describe it. But what it did of course was put me more on the footing of trying to placate and like, “I’ve just done this terrible thing,” and being ashamed.
And I also remember another part of the conversation where he was like, “Do you still want to be with me anymore?” Which like, what a terrible thing to ask in the heat of such a heated conversation, right?
And I’m like, “How can I give an answer to that? Like, I don’t know any—like, I don’t know.” And I said, “I don’t know if you can—can you give me what I need in a relationship?”
And he’s like, “What is that?” And I was like, “Well, I need you to do the things you say you’re gonna do. And consider me in decisions that affect me. And I need you to be a full-time partner to me. Like, I need you to be my partner all of the time, and not sometimes not consider me.”
And he was like, “That sounds like monogamy.”
So during the time that I was having my meltdown, I remembered something that Amber had written and was published as a guest post on his blog. So this guest post described the experience of being in a relationship with Franklin while he was with Celeste. And she described feeling like a monster, feeling like she couldn’t do anything but disappear. That the only thing she could do was want something else and be something else. And I was like, “This is how I’m feeling. What she wrote in that essay was exactly like what I’m feeling.”
And that was the first time I started to think, “Maybe it’s not…me. Maybe it wasn’t her. And maybe it wasn’t the structure,” as she wrote in her essay—she was like, “Franklin reached out his hand to me and said, ‘maybe it’s not you. Maybe it’s the structure.’” And I was like, maybe it’s not the structure, maybe it’s him. If two of his partners have felt exactly this same way.
And I actually got out my phone and I pulled up that essay, and I’m like, “I need to read you this thing that Amber wrote, because this is how I feel right now.”
And I read that passage, and I said, “This is how I feel right now. More than one of your partners have felt this way. Why is this?”
And I don’t remember what his response to that was, but I remember feeling that. And I remember that being sort of the first little ray of light, of like, “Maybe it’s not me, maybe he’s got this pattern.”
And that helped me to start to understand what I had seen previously with his former nesting partner Vera, and the way she had behaved. And I had thought she had been acting in ways that were just sort of crazy and controlling and unstable. And I was like, “Wait, he made me feel this way, and he made Amber feel this way. And I’m reacting this way, and I’ve seen Vera react the same way. Maybe he was also doing the same thing to her. And oh—I have not had enough compassion for Vera’s experience.”
I left that really not knowing if the relationship was gonna continue. And we continued to argue over text for a couple of days after I left. And then we finally, he’s like, “I need to focus on things here. I’ll be back on Tuesday.” And I remember when Tuesday morning— I mean I was in what I recognize now is an attachment panic, right? Like, the whole weekend I was terrified that this was the end and I was never going to see him again.
So our date was supposed to be a Monday. And that was the night that he “had” to go back to Portland to spend with Sylvia to spend an extra night with her before he—and I even offered him over text. I was like, “We’re about to go to Europe. What if we arranged for you to spend an extra week or two in the UK with her after our Europe trip? Like, would she accept that as an exchange for you coming home on Monday to be with me?” And he was like, “She’s very emotionally fragile right now, and I don’t think she would give that up.”
And then Tuesday morning, I woke up panicked that he wasn’t gonna get on the plane. And I called him and I was like, “I need to know that you’re coming home today.”
And he’s like, “I’m coming today.”
And he came home. And I was like, “I need us to see a counsellor.”
So I had managed to make an appointment for us to see a counsellor later that week.3 But as we started processing, both together with ourselves and with the counsellor, it became about this terrible rage that I’d had, and what had caused this and why I had behaved this way, and how to make sure that this would never happen again.
And even as I knew that things had been happening that weren’t okay and had hurt me, I still felt like I’d overreacted. I still felt like there was something wrong with me. I started to think that maybe I had borderline personality disorder?4 That I lacked emotional regulation, that I needed to learn to regulate. I started looking into dialectical behavioural therapy to learn better emotional management skills.
But at the same time, I was also trying to communicate with him about what my experience had been, and why that had been so bad for me. And like, what all of the things going on that had combined to create that reaction in me had been. And he finally said, “So, it was like the Challenger disaster, where there’s a million little things going wrong. And it’s not any one of those things, but it’s all of the things combined.” And so we started referring to that night as the Challenger disaster, because of that confluence of many factors. And I also stopped being able to listen to that band that we were supposed to go see. Because it just broke my heart to hear the music.
And so we went to a few counselling sessions. We spent a lot of time processing, but everything just felt broken. And the connection that we’d had up until that point was just—it was not there. And I remember talking to a friend of mine about this, and he was like, “It sounds like you’ve lost your irrational core. Like in an intimate relationship, there’s an irrational core of always assuming like, good faith and trust. And it sounds like that that’s not there now.” And I was like, “That’s kinda what it feels like.”
And one of the things that another friend of mine pointed out to me was that the way choices about his other partners were being presented to me—they were never presented to me in a way that I could help, or be a collaborator, or support. It was always like, I had to either be in the way or get out of the way. And so I was never on his team.
So if he had come in before buying a train ticket to say, “Sylvia’s coming early. Can we talk about what to do?” I could brainstorm with him. We could lay out, “These were our plans. Let’s figure out what to do. Let’s figure out when you can get to Portland reasonably.” And I could have been a helper, right? We could’ve been a team. But that wasn’t how it was done. It was like, “Accept this, or be a problem.”
And the same thing with the date. When he found out that she was staying until Tuesday, he didn’t message me and say, “Hey, this has come up. What do you want to do about this?” I could have been put in a position where I could have been generous and say, “I want to support this. And this means a lot to me, but I want you to have your time with Sylvia. So let’s make another plan.” But I was put in the position of, again, “Get out of the way, or be in the way.” I was never given that opportunity to be in a team to solve a problem. And that whole framing issue was present throughout the whole relationship, I can see now.
So we spent several months processing through what had happened. I had at that point, with the help of a friend—like a friend of mine had finally said, like, “He’s gaslighting you.” And I’m like, “Oh. Yeah, I see that.” Like he’s gaslighting me to make it look like I am jealous or insecure, when actually there’s real problems going on. And so I started naming that to him, and he did not like that. He did not like being told that he was gaslighting me. And kept wanting me to explain to him what that meant.
I mentioned that I did not reach out to anyone in my polycule after the Challenger disaster, and that they didn’t reach out to me. And you know, why didn’t I do that? And in particular, why didn’t I reach out to Amy, who I considered a friend? The biggest part of that was shame. Feeling so ashamed that I had had this big meltdown and effectively created a scene, and you know, possibly ruined Franklin’s handfasting. And it was supposed to be about them, and I’d made it about me. I felt so much shame that I didn’t feel like I could reach out to them. And because no one was reaching out to me, it sort of compounded the feeling that I’d done something wrong. And that they thought badly of me—which of course they did.
But there was also the fact that I was keeping Franklin’s secrets. Like, he had been telling me for months and months his so-called true feelings about the wedding and the handfasting, and his “true” feelings about Amy, and also about Sylvia. Like there was also this weird thing that he kept telling me: that he didn’t really want to be in a relationship with Sylvia. That she had developed all these expectations of him that he couldn’t meet, and that he didn’t want that kind of relationship with her, and didn’t want to be partnered to her anymore.
And, and I’m like, “So why are you breaking this really important commitment to me in order to be spend a night with her, if she’s not that important to you?”
So I’m carrying all these secrets—and like, how could I reach out to Amy to try to mend fences with her, if I can’t tell her the truth about what’s going on with me without betraying Franklin? And also, how do I go to another woman and say, “Well, the reason I’ve been weird around you is because of these terrible things that your partner’s saying about you?” Right?
Kali: Oh god, yeah.
Eve: So it was just this huge barrier.
And then she started vaguebooking about me, about—like every week, like some really shamey, really gaslighty vaguebook post about me, or about something that had happened.
I did send her a written apology. Like one of the things that Franklin said to me was, “Well, I think it would really mean a lot to her if you apologized.” And I’m like, “I don’t know how to apologize, because I don’t want to take all the blame for this thing that happened, because I don’t actually feel like it was all my fault. Like, I feel like you need to take some responsibility, too.” And he said that he understood that—who knows what he told her.
But I did finally—I really did a lot of soul searching. Like, “I know she needs an apology. I feel like I did something wrong. What do I genuinely feel guilty about?” And I felt guilty for not being there for them. I felt guilty for not showing up for their ceremony. So I wrote her a card with a sincere apology about that. And I had a couple of people review it and help me wordsmith it.
And she never responded to that, but she did post a blog post about shitty apologies she’s received, where she paraphrased my apology but twisted certain elements of it to make it sound like a shitty nonpology. And I’m like, “I know those weren’t the words I said. And I worked very hard on the words that I said.”
And I mentioned keeping all these secrets for him, and I knew that having all these secrets was toxic. I don’t think I understood how toxic it was. But I didn’t want to shut it down either, because it felt like intimacy, right? Like I felt like, “Oh, he trusts me with this, and he doesn’t trust anyone else with this.” And so why would I put a boundary about that? Like, “Please don’t tell me things about your other partners that you won’t tell them”—which actually seems like a great boundary now. But at the time it just felt like if I did that, I would be cutting back this amazing intimacy that we had where he could tell me anything, I thought.
I know that after the Challenger disaster, when I was at home, waiting for him to come back and he was still at the festival, at the handfasting, that he had a conversation with Amber. And he reached out to her and talked to her then, and didn’t tell me what they talked about. But that conversation is characterized in our correspondence from her perspective. And then when he came home and we were processing through some of this stuff, there was another thing that I read him, which was a blog post about covert boundary crosses.
And basically it’s about gaslighting. And it’s about people who make their partners feel and look and act crazy by destabilizing them and undermining them from inside. And how from the outside, they sort of flail around, and it looks like nothing’s happening. But actually something is happening. And I’m like, “This is how I feel, and this is also what I think I may have been seeing with Vera.”
And his response to that was, “Well, you know that you do this to me, too?”
And I was like, “Oh shit, I do? When has that happened?”
‘Course, I’d never seen him flailing around or melting down or any of these things, right? And I was extremely distressed at this idea that I might be hurting him in this way. And so I asked if he could give me an example, and he couldn’t.
I was like, “Well, how do I know how to stop doing it if I don’t know what I’m doing that causes this?” And the way the conversation went, it led to me feeling just like, it was just me. It was just who I am, that I just had this effect.
And then he brought up Amber. And he was like, “Well, Amber told me, when she’s around you, she always feels like she’s done something wrong.” Which of course was in some way true, because I believed that she was treating Franklin badly, because I believed that they were partners, and she was not treating him like a partner, and he was always hurt by that. Which led to me being angry with her at the way she was treating my partner poorly.
But yeah, so he’s like, “Amber doesn’t like to be around you, because you make her feel like she’s done something wrong.” And making it out to be like, I had this effect on all these other people.
And then I was like, “But I feel like I have a pretty good relationship with Amber.” And he was like, “Well, she doesn’t feel that way.”
And of course I believed him.
And so I was like, “Okay, here’s another person I thought was my friend who actually doesn’t like me and doesn’t feel safe around me. So that’s one more person I can’t talk to.” And that increased the shame.
And then I was like, “Well, the next time I make you feel this way, would you be able to tell me what I’m doing so that I—like, I need to learn what I’m doing so that I can stop this.” And he said he would.
So then of course, for the next six months, until the end of the relationship, I was constantly policing my behaviour to make sure that I was not doing anything that might make him feel unsafe.
And I asked him a few months later, “So that thing that you said that I did, have I done it since we had that conversation?” And he said, “No, you haven’t.” So I was so relieved to know that whatever mysterious thing I’d been doing, I had stopped doing.
But you’ll notice that we never actually got around to talking about the way I was feeling this way, or the things that he was doing, right?
A couple months after that, when we were still processing things, he actually suggested, “Maybe you should reach out to Amber and talk to her.” And I’m like, “Why would I reach out to Amber after what you’ve told me about how she feels about me?” So, I didn’t. And when I finally did, months later, it was a huge, huge leap of faith.
A few weeks after the handfasting and the Challenger disaster, we went to Europe for a couple of speaking gigs. And we were there for several weeks. And when I was there, I got a message from a friend of mine in the UK. And he had started to hear some things about Sylvia that were really concerning him, and about Sylvia’s reputation in the UK polyamory community.
And this is also the friend who had seen me face-to-face during the Europe book tour, and seen the sort of stress that I was experiencing around the dynamic with Franklin and Sylvia then, which was two years before. And so he was just like, “I’m worried about you.” And he ended up putting me in touch with someone else in the UK who had had some negative run-ins with Sylvia.
And then after that I started to internally question Franklin’s story about Melanie, and questioning the things he’d told me about her, and about Sylvia. And I didn’t know her, but I reached out to her cold through Facebook. And I was just like, “Hey, you don’t know me, but I’m Franklin’s partner, and I wanted to see if you would talk to me about Sylvia.”
And she was very kind—as all of the women I’ve reached out to have been—and ended up being really supportive during that time, and also for months after that, and through the breakup. And, it was really helpful to have that, because she had a lens on the whole situation that I didn’t have.
The pattern I experienced with Sylvia was, looking back at my whole relationship with Franklin, the times that I remember him being explicitly cruel, were all when he was either with Sylvia, or had just been with her. Now there was a lot of gaslighting; there was a lot of boundary-pushing; there was a lot of exploitation and all the other stuff that we’ve talked about. But he was very rarely cruel, like just, mean. But he was when he was with her, or had very recently, like within a couple of days, been with her. To the point where he was almost unrecognizable to me.
Like, the first time it happened, I just, I was so…so stung by this sudden change in how he was treating me, and I didn’t know what to make of it. And then it started to emerge as a pattern. And I became afraid of her—like really afraid. And I don’t know if he was fully aware of how scared of her I was. I honestly don’t remember if I discussed this with him until it was close to the end. But I know that he was aware of the conflict and some of my feelings about her, and I really wonder, what has he told her, what has he told his other partners about those feelings?
And I can easily imagine that he said that I was afraid because I was jealous.
You know, maybe I was afraid because she was a game changer—who knows what kind of line he was feeding her. But I’m sure it would all fit into is narrative of jealousy, insecurity and anger—which was just not what it was at all.
I mean now, looking back, I understand, I was not afraid of her. I was afraid of him, in connection to her. I was afraid of who he became when he was close to her, when he was with her. And had a very strong sense of dread around the time that they spent together, because I knew that I would be treated badly.
And it is interesting to hear Melanie say that what he told her the last time she saw him was, “Oh, Sylvia’s treating Eve badly.” It’s like, well, okay, so he was able to recognize that I was being treated badly, but not able to recognize that it was him. That he was the one doing it. Like somehow he had ceded his agency to her. And so if he was treating me—I don’t even…I’m trying to make sense of it, and of course it doesn’t make sense.
So, in one of Amber’s essays that Franklin published as a guest post on his blog, she talks about how when Franklin chose her over Celeste, it wasn’t a matter of choosing one partner over another, it was matter of choosing one type of life over another.
Celeste and Amber were offering Franklin two very different kinds of lives. And he chose the one that Amber was offering. That was the same thing that he basically said to me when he was choosing to move out of the home he shared with Vera and move in with me and immigrate to Canada: that he was choosing a different kind of life, and a different kind of polyamorous relationship.
But there was also a point when he chose Sylvia—I don’t know that he would characterize it this way. But to me, in my mind and in my experience, he made a very very clear choice, and he was willing and ready to end the relationship with me, to choose Sylvia.
I mean that hurt a lot. And it still hurts. But I’ve wondered, often, since—and I think that I started to put this together after the breakup—that it wasn’t that he was choosing one partner over another. It felt like he was choosing one version of himself over another.
The person who he was with me was really different from the person he was with Sylvia. I mean, there’s the part in Melanie’s testimony where she says, “Sylvia said, ‘I don’t do responsibility.’” And I mean that kind of sums it up right? Like, that was the alternative that was being offered to Franklin. And I have felt over the last year, year and a half, that he very clearly chose that alternative. And I also wonder if perhaps he enjoyed being cruel…
But I’m still processing that and still reconsidering it. And I feel like maybe that’s just me letting him off the hook again, and pinning responsibility on her. Because I think that he likes being that version of himself. And of course, she didn’t create that version of himself. It was always there—we can see it in the things he said to Celeste during the dissolution of their relationship.
So what I can say is that until the breakup, I did have exposure to that side of him, but it was only through his connection to Sylvia. And so it was very easy for me to blame her, to hold her responsible somehow, for him behaving that way. But that was always there, that was always part of the real him.
I don’t know, if I try to go down the rabbit hole of identifying like, who is the “real” Franklin?—but I guess I feel, and I have felt for a long time, that one of the things that draws him to Sylvia is the ability to fully live out that part of himself.
And I remember another conversation that I had with him—and this was at this point like October 2017, so several months after the wedding. And he was still continuing to present this whole thing in public as like this, you know, joyful—like it was just, again, just a completely different narrative in public than what was being told to me in private. And I couldn’t square the two.
Like, I couldn’t understand like why they were doing this huge public…I’m like, “You look so happy in your wedding photos, and that’s not what you told me that you were feeling.” And he’s like, “Well, why don’t you want me to be happy?” And I’m like, “That’s not what it’s about.”
This conversation was like me trying to square these narratives of what he’s saying in public versus what he’s telling me in private, because I’m not someone who can live a double life that way. Like, that is foreign to me. And so to me, I couldn’t live with that cognitive dissonance that I think he never even recognized as a thing. And so we kept having these conversations about like, “What does this mean?”
But I remember one particular conversation—I remember it because he was trying to convince me that the reason I was upset about all of this was because what I really wanted was what Amy had. I wanted to be the one that he was marrying and was up in public with. And also that I didn’t want them to have this ceremony or this special day—none of which was true.
Like, yes, it was true that I didn’t want to be invisible in the way that I was. And I wanted some public recognition of the bond that we had—which, we couldn’t have that public recognition because of the Canadian polygamy laws that would’ve threatened everybody’s immigration. But also, it simply wasn’t true that I did not want them to have a celebration of their relationship. But it was never presented to me as that by him. He never actually had expressed to me why he was doing this, except for the fact that he was being like, forced and coerced.
And so for him then to come back and be like, well, he had wanted to have this big celebration with her, and I just wasn’t supportive of that. It’s like, no, that’s really not what happened. That’s not what happened.
In that conversation, it felt like we finally got to a place where he was able to understand and acknowledge that the thing that was really upsetting to me was the fact that I felt like I was being forced to keep all of these secrets. And that was a huge part of it, as well, was that I felt like this repository for all of these huge secrets. And I couldn’t tell anybody. Like he was living this double life, and I was sort of nonconsensually being made responsible for holding that.
And if I contradicted the narrative in any way, then I would be threatening everything. And I couldn’t do that.
And I think that, I felt like in that conversation, he finally understood that, and we finally reached an understanding of why I was so upset, and why that was so bad for me.
1. According to my journal, he also asked me if I wanted to trade places with Sylvia.
2. This is a new therapist from the one Franklin has complained about.
3. Franklin has claimed publicly that I had been seeing this counsellor individually. This is untrue.
4. In fact recently on Quora, Franklin appears to have begun armchair-diagnosing me with BPD.