Eve’s Relationship Testimony With Franklin Veaux
Interviewed by Louisa Leontiades on January 4, 2019, and by Kali Tal on October 19 and 26, 2019. Scroll down for audio. Read Kali Tal’s analysis of the correspondence with Amber here.
Eve: So he went to the UK the next day with his crush and was gone for a little over a week.
And then in the time that he was away—so there was a reporter who had been working on a book about polyamory. She’d interviewed me the previous summer and had really, really wanted to talk about the wedding. And I didn’t feel that I could talk openly and honestly about the wedding, the reasons for it, my feelings about it, all this other stuff.
So I just told her, I’m like, “Look, if I’m going to be in your book, that topic is off limits.” And she was like, “Well, why?” And I’m like, “I don’t want to tell you why that topic is off limits.” Like I’m talking to a journalist with no real good reason to trust. And I’m like, “Look, if you want to interview me, this is something I’m not willing to talk about, and no, I’m not willing to talk about why, because that’s part of the topic.”
So she agreed to that, and she interviewed me. And during the week that that Franklin was in the UK, she sent me her draft chapter. Turned out she had been at his talk at this conference. And so in her chapter, she had written all about what he’d said in the talk. And I was like, “This can’t be in here. This is not what we agreed. We agreed that this was off limits.” And she was like, “But it’s a public talk, and I’m a journalist and you can’t tell me what I can and can’t write.” And I’m like, “Well, then take me out of your book. Because I agreed to participate on the terms that the topic was off limits, and now you’re violating that boundary.”
And she wouldn’t. She just wouldn’t. And she just really entrenched. And it was weird because this wasn’t supposed to be a piece of investigative gotcha journalism, or exposing the truth in the public interest. Like, it was supposed to be what I thought was a warm, fuzzy, consensual book about people’s experiences with polyamory. So you wouldn’t want someone in that book to feel violated or misrepresented. But that didn’t seem to matter in the initial conversations I had with her.
So I panicked, and I wrote to Franklin, and I’m like, “I need you to talk to her and like, correct the record and tell her the truth. Or at least tell her that you didn’t tell the whole truth in that talk.” And he didn’t respond to any of that.
So I asked her if we could Skype, the three of us. So after he got home, I brought it up with him. And he didn’t understand. He didn’t think that he said anything wrong or untrue in that talk. He thought I was overreacting. He thought, again, it was my anxiety. He asked, “Well, why can’t you just tell the journalist your side of the story?”
And I’m like, “Because I am protecting you, and I can’t tell her the truth, because of all these confidential things that I have to protect. So I feel invisible. I feel like my truth can’t be told, because I would be throwing you under the bus if I did.”
And he tried to convince me of various things. Like that it didn’t matter that he hadn’t…that he had told the truth.
And then he’s like, “You know, at any moment, Amy and Sylvia could have an interview with a journalist and talk about how you melted down at this handfasting because you were jealous.” And I’m like…“Okay, why are you telling me this now? This is not comforting to me.”
And I was like, “Well, what would you do if they did that?” And he didn’t have an answer for that. And I’m like, “Would you be okay with that?” And I don’t remember what he said, but he seemed to imply that like, he wouldn’t care if they’d done it. And so I was like, “If they do that, they’re not going to be in my metamours anymore, one way or another.” And he was like, “Okay.”
And then he started, “You know, this journalist, she could go on a book tour and she could talk about how you got angry about having this story told, and how irrational”—he started like, threatening me with all of these things that people could say about me.
I don’t actually understand what the purpose of that was. But I was getting more and more panicked. And I remember I was crying and hyperventilating. And he wouldn’t help. He wouldn’t acknowledge that there was a problem. And he just kept turning it back around on me, and like, how irrational I was, and how anxious I was, and how all of these people could say these terrible things about me. And also, why was I so upset? And I was getting more and more—to the point where I was just like, sobbing.
And I remember again that same feeling that I’d had in the van, of the walls closing in and feeling trapped, and feeling like I had no choices.
And at one point he stood up, and he came and he held me. But it was very mechanical, the way he did it. Like he was very cold. It was kind of rote and automatic. So he was holding me, but there was no comfort in that embrace.
And I remember, he was standing and I was sitting. And I had my face kind of pressed into his stomach, and I was sobbing. And at one point I just felt that feeling of the walls closing in, and I screamed. And when I screamed, he like tensed up, and he kind of pulled his stomach back. And then I felt that feeling again of like, “Oh my God, what have I done?” And I started apologizing, again—the way I had when he’d been like, “Oh, you hit me” in the van.
And so I was apologizing and crying. And then, I remember later—like I cried for hours. I cried for the whole night. I couldn’t stop. And I remember later, saying to him, “I hate the person I’m becoming.”
And he was like, “Oh. Well that explains this, then. That explains why you’re so upset. Because you hate the person you’re becoming.”
And, I remember saying over and over again, “I want to die. I want to die. I want to die.” And him saying, you know, “No, no, no.” But there wasn’t any real emotional connection there.
And I might be mixing up some timelines here, because—so we had the Skype call with the journalist the next day. And I kept trying to explain to her, like, “I feel incredibly violated by your inclusion of this story in your book. I need it to not be there if I’m going to be in your book. Why is it so important for you to include it?” And she kept turning it around back onto me as like, “Well, you can’t tell me what to write. You can’t tell me what I can cover.” And I’m like, “That’s not what this is about. This is about how people in your book feel about being in your book.”
And at one point I accused her of gaslighting—which actually I think she was—but she kept saying, “What is this really about?” And I’m like, “Why would I tell you? I don’t trust you. I’m not going to give you more sensitive information so that you can decide whether or not you’re going to violate my privacy,” right?
And Franklin was there, but he was just like silent, and sort of like tucked back into the couch cushions, like, “I don’t want anything to do with this.” Like the whole time. And at one point she asked him, she was like, “Franklin, what do you think about all of this?” And I can’t remember what he said, but I remember it kind of making me sound like I was crazy, and like he was just humoring me, and they were just humoring me. And, “Oh, well, she is afraid of who’s going to read this and what they’re going to think of her.”
And so finally the journalist did—I like ended up yelling at her, because at one point she was like, “Why”—she asked me multiple times, “Why don’t you want me to include this?” And I finally shouted, “Because it’s not true!” And then she was like, “Well, what’s true?” And I’m like, “I don’t want to tell you.”
But she finally did relent, and was like, “Okay, you know, I do believe in letting people have a second chance and start over. So, you know, I’m prepared to soften this. So like, let’s talk about what’s okay for me to include.” So I felt such relief.
But then suddenly I felt so much shame, too, because of how I’d been behaving. And for yelling at her. ‘Cause suddenly she was being the kind one, suddenly she was relenting. And I remember saying “thank you” like a million times, and like, “thank you for listening” and “thank you for understanding,” and like, feeling so conciliatory.
And then after the call ended, he just looked at me. And he was like, “There’s something else.” And I’m like, “What do you mean?” And he’s like, “There’s something, we haven’t gotten to the bottom of. How do we get from”—forget what we were coming from—but like, “how do we get to you yelling at a journalist?”
And you know, at this point we’d spent six months talking about what it was. And it was just like none of that had happened. And it was like none of the things that I’d said had mattered. Or meant anything. Or were real. And he’s telling me there’s something else. Something that I’m not disclosing or not admitting.
And I just remember like—this is why I think I might be getting confused, because I think that might’ve been the point at which—cause I was crying again after the call. And I think that might’ve been when I said “I hate who I’m becoming.” But I know that that was the night that my low-grade suicidal ideation that I had been having for a year and a half or whatever by that point came to another head, where I started to fear that I might actually act on it.
We went to bed, and I was still crying, and I couldn’t sleep. And so in the middle of the night I got up, and I was like, I…feel completely crazy. I need help. Like, I don’t know if I’m going to kill myself. I don’t know if I’m going to lose my mind, but I need help. And I was sitting in the living room with my phone in my hand, and I was like, how do I do this? How do I check myself into a hospital? I don’t know how you do this. So I was looking up crisis lines, and I thought, if I can talk to someone on a local crisis line, maybe they can help me talk about what my options are. Like, I didn’t know if I was supposed to just go to the ER, or call 911, or what, right? So I had googled the crisis line, and I was actually typing the number into my phone to call when he came out.
He sort of stood over me, sort of looking at me, and I told him what I was doing. I was like, “I feel suicidal. I think I might need to check myself into a hospital. I’m trying to find a crisis line I can talk to.”
And he just…didn’t say a word, just reached over and took the phone out of my hand, and then took my hand and stood me up and led me back into the bedroom. And that was that.
So the next day I started—I mean I was still falling apart. I started not being able to remember things. I knew that there were some really bad things that had happened, but when I tried to go back to them in my memory, I felt like they were like, cigarette burn holes in the fabric of my memory.
So like, I couldn’t remember the handfasting. I was like, “There is a bad thing that happened last summer, and I don’t remember what it was. There’s just a big hole there. And I know I’m upset about it, and I don’t remember why.”
And the other thing was, is that, when I tried to speak, if I tried to talk about any of the bad stuff—like if I was trying to talk to Franklin, like—I couldn’t make words. I would open my mouth, and there was like a block in my chest where it was just like…I couldn’t get past, there was something that I couldn’t get past, and I couldn’t speak. I was terrified. Because I’m like, I’m losing my memories and I’m losing my voice. Like literally.
This friend of mine—I was able to sort of talk to her. And she was like, “Yeah, I’ve been seeing this happen for awhile.” You know, “I’ve been seeing some stuff that is not okay, and I’ve been seeing you decline over the last months.” And she said—I don’t remember if I asked her if she would talk to him, or if she offered to talk to him.
But in any case, she agreed that she would talk to him. I’m like, “I can’t explain to him what’s happening. I need someone to explain to him what’s happening.” And so she agreed that she’d do that. So you know, I went home and I said that we wanted to have this conversation. And he agreed to do that and we set a date for it in two days.
Oh there was also something that happened, the day that I screamed into his stomach, in that conversation. And it was before that weird mechanical, cold, trying-to-comfort-me thing that happened, where, when he was asking me why I couldn’t tell my own version of the story publicly, one of the things I mentioned was that I thought that there were some things that had happened that would damage his reputation if I disclosed them publicly.
And he got really quiet. And he was like, “So I’m really concerned that it sounds like one of the reasons you’re in so much distress is that you feel like you’re protecting me.” And I was like, “Yeah.”
And the way I heard it at the time was that he was concerned about my distress, and this distress that I was experiencing over protecting him. And the way I understand it now was that he was concerned that I felt that I had information that could damage him. As I have reprocessed those memories, I’ve started to think, like,I think that was the moment really when he shifted into trying to neutralize and silence me. Because things really changed in that moment. And that feeling of that cold embrace, that I—like that was materially different from anything I’d experienced from him before. And it feels like he just shifted into a different mode, and was in that mode ever since.
And everything that he did after that feels like it was entirely around either trying to gaslight me into thinking I didn’t have the experience that I was having, or trying to convince other people that I was crazy or malicious or lying or abusive.
So, you know, I know that he had this multi-hour Skype call with Amy, I guess that was the Saturday afternoon…I have no idea of course what they talked about in that call. But he told me that you know, she was willing to talk to me, willing to hear my experience and try to initiate repair. That he had told her the truth about what he’d been telling me. So that felt like a good, a positive move if it was—I don’t think it was true.
And then the next day we had this conversation with our neighbour. And it went very, very badly.
First of all, she was like, “What do you want him to know? Like, if you could say what your experience was like, could you write it down?” She had me write down two things. One was, “What words do you need to hear him say when you are trying to express harm?” And I wrote that down. And what it was, was something like, “I’m sorry. I don’t understand what it is that I did, but I want to hear more.” And the other thing that she wanted to know was like, “What is your experience that you want him to understand?” And I think I wrote down something like, “Franklin has been gaslighting me and financially exploiting me.”
And so, we went to this conversation with her. And the first thing I remember was he just almost immediately started deflecting. Like he started saying “Well, she’s holding me responsible for things that other people did.” Or “This is just her anxiety—her anxiety is so bad that I can’t understand what she’s saying to me.”
And my friend was like, “Well, I understand what she’s saying. She seems perfectly clear to me.” And she was like, “I can help you understand what she’s saying. But do you want to understand? Are you willing to centre her experience for a little while?”
And he was like, “Yes, I want to understand. And I want to listen.”
There was something else where he said, “Oh, I know that she believes that this happened.” And like stressing on the she. And she was like, “Listen, I just need you to know that that, right there, was a specific incidence of gendered violence that I witnessed.” And she’s like, “That is really, really harmful.” And then she said, “It’s as bad as rape.” And I was like, “Oh…we just lost him.” And she said that. and I didn’t believe her at the time.
Like I was like, “Oh, well that’s kind of an overstatement.” And now I actually understand what she was getting at—the way this like insidious undermining over years actually did traumatize me as badly as if I had been raped. But at the time, I was just like, “Oh, we just lost him.”
You know, but I was frozen. Like from the moment we went in there and he started deflecting, I couldn’t speak. So even when I could tell, like, oh, we’ve lost him, things are going badly. Like I actually, I couldn’t make words. I could only watch this thing happening.
And so then he was like, “Oh, well you believe that only men can abuse, and that women never abuse [men].” And she was like, “I didn’t say that. Nobody said that.”
At one point she asked him to read the first thing I’d written, about the words that I would need to say or to hear him say. She’s like, Eve said that this is what she would like to hear from you. Can you read that and then reflect that back to her in your words, so that she can hear you say it?” And he did say the part about “I want to hear and understand what it is that I’m doing.” But he did not say the “I’m sorry part”—I remember that. I let it go cause I’m like, “It’s close enough.”
And so…I don’t remember—like he kept deflecting, and kept opening up these rabbit holes, and kept sort of trying to divert the conversation. And she kept being like, “No. We’re coming back to this thing. We’ll get to your thing. We’re gonna look at this thing right now.”
And at one point he was like, “You’re shutting me down.” And she’s like, “Yes, I’m shutting you down. We’re listening to her right now, and we’ll get to you, we’ll come back to your thing later. But this isn’t the time for it.”
And I remember, he was wearing a Fitbit. And I remember looking down and seeing the Fitbit doing the little racing shoes, like he was running. And I was like, “Oh shit. He is getting really, really worked up.” And he was like physically shaking. And again, I could not intervene. Like, I was physically frozen. And I knew—I was like, this is going really, really badly. I need to intervene. And I couldn’t. And I think part of it was like some sort of, you know, tonic response from trauma. But I also—there was part of me that was just like, fascinated by what she was doing. I was like, she’s…challenging him. Like, she’s not letting him do this. She’s actually saying no to him. I’ve never done that! You can do that!
And it just made so clear what he’d been doing, you know? And so, finally I broke through this freezing, and I reached out to him. And I remember touching his back, and like, I put my hand up under his shirt so I could touch his skin. And I was like, “Franklin, nobody’s saying you’re a bad person. Nobody’s saying that you’re doing any of this on purpose.” I don’t remember what—like I think I said, “I love you and care about you.” Like, I don’t remember what else I said, but I was like, trying to calm him down. And then finally he was like, “I need to leave.” And my friend was like, “Okay. Can we go take a timeout, and maybe you can come back and we can finish the conversation?”
And he was like—I don’t remember what he said. But I remember very shortly after, him getting up and leaving. And we went outside. And he’s like, “I’m not going back in there. That was incredibly destructive.” And I was like panicking, cause—we were very, very calm, through the whole thing. And my friend was very patient, but she was just like, “No. No. We’ll come back to that. But no, you need to listen to this right now.”
But I remember that after that, I spent two or three hours processing with him his feelings about what had been done to him in that room. And he was like, “I felt like Captain Picard saying ‘There are four lights, there are four lights!’ And you were trying to make me say there were five.”
Because one of those things was, she had asked him to read the thing that I’d said and reflect it back to me. “Can you just tell Eve what you read? Like, in your own words.” And to him, being asked to mirror, being asked to reflect my experience, was like being asked to overwrite his own, right? Which was not what we were trying to do. We were just like, “This is what Eve’s experiencing.”
Yeah, we spent hours processing his feelings. There was one point at which he was like, “Do you believe what she said, about this being as bad as rape?” And I was like, “I don’t know…anymore.” Like, “I don’t know, that seems a little extreme. That’s not really how I feel, but I don’t know.” And he was like, “Well, why would you want to be in a relationship with your rapist?” And I was like, “Because I don’t think you’re doing this on purpose? Because I believe that you are capable of stopping it?”
And oh, what else do I remember about that conversation? I don’t remember a lot. Oh, he was like, “Now I need you to answer something. And this is really important. She said, ‘Yes, I am shutting you down.’ Do you think that was okay for her to say?”
And I was like, “I don’t know.” Like, “I don’t know.” Because…the way he was acting wasn’t okay. Was it okay for her to shut that down? I don’t know. You know, now, I think it was, but at the time, he’d always just gotten his own way.
So he looked at me, and he’s like, “That’s very important information. Very important information.”
So basically like, I wasn’t willing to denounce what she had done and said.
So I remember that conversation went on for hours. I remember very much centring him and his feelings. I remember at no point in that entire evening, either with her or with him later, did we ever get to talking about the thing that she had been trying to talk to him about. And about why I was going non-verbal and losing memories. His feelings about that half-hour that we were in her house were like, way more important than anything that might be going on with me over the last year.
We eventually went to bed. And at about two, three in the morning, I woke up, just like bolt upright. And I’m like, “I don’t feel safe in this bed anymore.” And I got up, and I went into the living room. And we had a mattress out in the living room that my cat was sleeping on, ‘cause she was old and frail and sick. So I went and slept on the mattress with her. And later that morning, when he woke up, he came out, and he came and he gave me a hug and a kiss. And he was like, “It seems like you don’t want to sleep in the bed.” I don’t remember what I said, but I might’ve said something like, “I just needed some space,” or something like that. But…
I went to work, and that was the first time I’d been really out of the house for several days. And so after a few hours of work, I started to realize that I was feeling a lot more okay, and a lot more stable. And that feeling of the walls closing in wasn’t as severe. And then when I was ready to go home and I started walking towards the SkyTrain to go home, I started to feel this sense of dread, like, settling in on me again. And I was like, I think this means I need to not go home. So I messaged a friend and said, “Hey, can I come stay with you for a few days? And my friend said yes. So I went home and got some clothes and then went to my friend’s place.
So before I went to get my things and then to go to his house, I actually stopped and I got dinner at a place by the Skytrain and while I was eating my dinner, that was when I finally decided to write to Amber. That was when I took the leap of getting out my phone and writing that first message.1
So I sent that message, and then I went to my friend’s house and slept in his spare room. And the next morning—you know, I woke up early in the morning…I think it was that night that this started happening to me, where I would wake up at like two, three in the morning—of course, around the time that he used to come to bed—and I’d be like, bolt awake, and my skin would be like, hot and flushed and covered in pinpricks, and my heart would be racing. And it was so awful. And so that was the night that I remember that starting.
But I also remember—I don’t remember if it was the first time I woke up like that and I checked my phone, or if it was later that morning, I would have to check the timestamps on the messages. But she replied to me and said, you know, “Yes, I’m willing to talk to you about what it’s like to be a nesting partner with him.” And I wrote back, and I explained a little bit about what my experience had been, and I was like, “Has this ever happened to you?”
Her response was, “Well, that specific thing hasn’t happened to me, but I believe it would have had I stayed with him longer. Here’s what did happen to me.” And she described like, just so beautifully so much of what I had—I mean, she’s such an amazing thinker and an amazing writer, and she just put into words with such clarity what I had been going through. And it was like, so incredibly grounding to get that message, and be like, “Oh, I am not the one who’s crazy here. This has happened before. And if she can describe without having been through what I’m going through, if she can describe it, that means it’s real.”
And I remember—that correspondence went on for three days. And when I sent an email off, it would be like exhaling, and then I’d just be holding my breath until the next one came in. And then when I got her next email, I’d be inhaling again. Like they were a lifeline for me, to be able to talk to her and to know, and get this repeated reassurance that this was real, and like, her insight on what was going on. And starting to unpack what I’d been through.
And Melanie also was in more or less constant contact with me during that week. And—’cause she was in the UK, if I would pop up on Facebook at like two, three in the morning cause I just had one of these waking episodes, she would be like, “Hey, you’re not sleeping. Wanna talk?” So, so that was really, really good. And I mean all my friends just really, really pulled through for me that week and in the aftermath.
I remember most of that week—I think I did go into work every day or most days, but I remember most of that week is just being in like a haze, and exchanging those emails with Amber. And sometime during the week I realized that I needed Franklin to move out of the house. I still didn’t want to end the relationship, but I was like, we need to not be living together until like—I don’t know, he fucking develops some life skills on his own without me like, holding his hand. And also we resolve this thing that’s going on. And I think it was also realizing that except for those two, three years in Atlanta—when he was still being taken care of by long-distance partners—he’d never lived alone. Ever. He had always had a woman taking care of him. And I was like, if this relationship is going to continue, I’m going to need to see that he can live alone and can take care of himself.
And I need him to start actually doing his job. And because this whole carrying him situation is fucked up, it can’t continue.
So we had continued to see that couples counsellor off and on, and we had an appointment scheduled with her on Thursday evening.
Sometime during the week I had asked Amber if it was okay for me to tell Franklin that we were talking, and if I could read him some of her emails. And she had said yes to both things. ‘Cause I had thought, well, if he can hear this in Amber’s words, you know—I still believed that he cared and didn’t want to do this on purpose and would want to stop. I was like, if he can hear this in Amber’s words, maybe he’ll understand.
But I didn’t want to blindside him at the counselling session, saying, “Oh, by the way, I’ve been talking to Amber,” and suddenly have a session be all about that. So I messaged him sometime Thursday and said, I’ve been talking to her. And he said, “Oh, I wish she were talking to me.”
And this is something else I just remembered about that last six months. So since the handfasting, when he’d had that text conversation with her, she had stopped responding to his messages, and was not talking to him. And she had explained to me, over the week, her choice to put distance between herself and him, because she didn’t like the way he was treating women. Basically. And was also starting to realize, in her own time and in her own way, the toxic effect that he’d had on her life, and the damage that he’d done to her.
And so she had just become more and more angry and decided to distance. And so she hadn’t been responding to messages from him for quite awhile. And of course, before reaching out to her, I had been like, “What a bitch! Why is she doing that? Like if she wants to break up with you she”—cause I thought they were still partners—like, “she should just tell you,” right?
So anyway, I was like, “Well, I’ve been talking to Amber.” And he was like, “Well, iI wish she were talking to me.” And I said” I know that, and I know it really sucks. But I do understand why she’s doing it, and I think it’s the right decision for her.”
And so he said, “Oh, well, why isn’t she talking to me?” And then I was like, well, fuck, what do I say now? Right? And I’m like, this isn’t really my place. And so that’s what I said. I said, “This isn’t for me to say.” I don’t remember exactly what I said. I could find it. But, I just said, basically, “It’s not for me to say, but I understand it.” And his response was, “Well, so she’s breaking up with me without telling me?” So I was like, oh, whoa.
I didn’t respond to that message from him. But I wrote to Amber, and I was like, “I want you to know that this is the exchange that I just had with Franklin. He might reach out to you. I hope I haven’t dragged you into something or put you at risk by doing that.”
And her response was really freaked out. She was like, “I’m not in a romantic relationship with Franklin. I am extremely uncomfortable with that verbiage. I made this clear to him years ago. I am not”—and she repeated it several times, you know, “I’m very uncomfortable, I’m not in a romantic relationship.” And she’s like, “And you can tell him this. And I’ll tell him this if he contacts me.”
And so when I got that message, this is what I remember about that message, was this feeling of like, again, bottom dropping out, like “holy shit”—and there was part of me I think that knew, and, but to have her say it and be like, “Whoa.” Like, “This wasn’t real.” This wasn’t real. And it had been presented to me as real for years. And like everything—and in some ways it made everything make sense, but at the same time it was like—
So what I remember was running into my friend’s bathroom and throwing up from the shock.
Kali: Oh my god.
Eve: And then starting to have a panic attack, and talking to another one of my friends, who talked me through it.
And at that point, I started to feel actually scared to see him at the session. I was like, “I am afraid to go to that session.” And she kind of talked me through that, too.
And then I got another email from Amber. And Vera had sent Amber a screencap of Franklin saying basically the same thing he said to me. Something like “Amber’s breaking up with me and doesn’t want to tell me.”
And she’s like, “I just received something very similar from Vera. I said the same thing to her. I’m going to check out for awhile. I’ll be in touch.” And then she was—poof! she was gone.
And I was like, I know why she’s doing this. And it really fucking sucks. Cause that was my lifeline. And suddenly the world is falling apart, and she’s gone.
And then I went to therapy. And…I have notes from the session. I think that in my mind, the timeline of the session might be a little mixed up from what’s in the notes, and obviously my notes are probably more accurate. So what I remember is telling him, like, at some point saying to him, “Look, I’ve been talking to Amber, and she’s pointed out, like, you have this pattern. Like these nesting partners you’ve had, we all started off secure and happy and confident. And then we left these relationships insecure and anxious and crazy. And what’s happening to us in the middle? Cause it’s the same thing.”
And the counsellor had like this big chalkboard, like this chalkboard wall. And I remember actually drawing it out, and so he was sort of looking up at it and I remember him saying like, really slowly, “Well, if at least two of my partners say I’ve been gaslighting them, then I guess that’s something that I need to look at and work on.”
It was like “At least two? Like, okay, you didn’t believe me on my own, but okay, I guess it’s good that two was enough for you to listen and want to work on it.” And what I remember was then him being like, “Well, now it’s my turn.”
So, and what I remember about this is—we’re sitting on a couch together, and the counsellor’s across from us. And he was speaking to her, and not to me. So he was facing her. And he pulls his phone out of his pocket, and he’s like, “Well, I realized this week that my phone has been on silent for years, because I’ve been afraid to turn the ringer on. And the reason I’m afraid to turn the ringer on is that when we were working on the manuscript from More Than Two, we had agreed that we were going to turn our phones off for awhile, and I got a text message. And Eve heard the text message, and she exploded at me. She screamed at me. She left the room. She broke something of mine. And ever since then, I’ve been afraid to say no to her. She goes into these towering rages at the smallest thing. She screams at me. She breaks my things”—you know suddenly we’re talking plural, patterned behaviour2—”She screams at me; she breaks my things. So I’m afraid to tell her the truth. And I’ve been gaslighting her because I’m afraid to tell her the truth.”
And this whole time he’s looking at the therapist. And I’m like…just sitting there stunned. In total shock. And at one point I even—like when he said about the situation in the cabin, “She screamed at me”—cause like, I didn’t scream at him. I know I didn’t. I know that I left the room, went downstairs, shut the door and screamed into a pillow, right? These are different things. And so I like, started to open my mouth. And he put his hand up and like shushed me. And kept going. And I mean, he didn’t actually make a “shush” sound, but the physical gesture and the look he gave me was like, you know, “No.” And he kept going. I still don’t know how to describe the feeling of that happening.
My mouth literally dropped open while he was talking. I was like, “He is not saying this. He is not really doing this.”
And then I think what happened was—I think that he was expecting the therapist to listen to what he said, and say, “Oh, Eve is clearly abusing you. Therefore you are not responsible for anything you did,” right? I don’t know what he was expecting. But it wasn’t what happened.
So, he’s looking at her. I’m looking at him. And she’s like, “I—I think that Eve has something to say. Can you look at her?”
And so he did, reluctantly. And I said—I didn’t challenge the lies. Even then, I didn’t. I don’t know why I didn’t, but I didn’t. I wasn’t ready to do that. But I said, “I know that sometimes I have inappropriate anger. And you know that that’s something that I’m working on, and that I take seriously and that I want to change. And I want you to feel safe in this relationship. And I want to continue to work with you on how we can have appropriate conflict that feels safe.”
And then I said, “But…this doesn’t change the pattern. It doesn’t change the fact that you have acted this way with more women than just me. And it doesn’t make it ok for you to gaslight me. And it doesn’t mean that I deserve to be gaslit.”
And I think I may have also pointed out that he has said similar things to me about Amy and Sylvia. That he’s afraid to tell them the truth, that they get too angry. I don’t remember if I just thought that, or if I said it—I think I said it.
And then at this point—can’t remember what happened after that. Like, if he acknowledged what I was saying or not. But I basically was like, “I will work on my stuff so that you can feel safe. And I need you to work on your stuff so I can feel safe.”
And that was when I brought up needing him to move out of my house. I was like, “I don’t feel safe. I need to get safe. You’re saying that you don’t feel safe. We both need to find safety. So I need to not live with you. I need you to move out of my house.”
And I said, “I have checked, I know that you can afford rooms nearby. I will continue to give you access to your office. You can continue to come see Stella. I’m not like, kicking you out of my life. I just need us to be living in different spaces.”
And he agreed, and he said, “You know that something is the right decision when you feel relief. And I feel relieved at the idea of moving out.”
And that stung a little bit, but I was also like, “Ok, good. We’re on the same page here.”
And then very shortly after—and then I remember he was, again he was talking to our therapist when he said that. And I was like, “Hey, I’m here. Can I hold your hand, can I touch you? Can we have some connection before we go?” Because I was going back to Michael’s house. And again—I don’t remember if the therapist had to ask him to turn toward me, or if he did when I asked him, but he did. And he softened just a little bit. I felt like we did have a moment of connection. I don’t remember if we held hands or we hugged. But there was a moment of connection. And then we left.
And we went downstairs and we got outside, and I said “That felt hopeful to me.” And he just looked at me, and he was like—I don’t remember what he said. But it was something like “Oh, well. We’ll see about that.”
And then we went our separate ways.
So I went home, and I immediately wrote down all my notes from the session and then I showed it to Melanie. And she was like “Oh my God.” And I was like “What do you mean?” And she’s like, “Well I see abuse.”
And I was like, “What do you mean?” And she’s like, “Well, he’s lying. And he is making you responsible for what he did to you.” And I was like “Oh. Ok.”
“And he is retconning your whole relationship.”
And I couldn’t sleep.
That was when I think the veil finally really started to lift. Because just seeing him just lie. Just coldly—I mean it was premeditated, I believe. And I’m sure he believes it now. But I think at the time, he was shifting into the space of believing it. But I believe now that he knew when he said it that he was lying.
I cried for hours. And so it’s like 7:00 o’clock in the morning. I talked to a few people during the night, and one of them suggested that I call a crisis hotline. So I did.
I remember too. I hadn’t eaten all week—like I’d been forcing myself to eat, I could barely eat. And that night was the first night that I was like, actually hungry, and actually excited about the idea of eating food. I was like “Oh my God, I want fried chicken.” I started fantasizing about fried chicken. So I walked to the place. I had switched homes—so I had got moved from Michael’s place to Sophia’s place.
Oh and this was the other thing that happened on Thursday—Chelsey’s wife Jessica picked me up at Michael’s house and took me home to get some more of my things and to see Stella, and then to take me to Sophia’s. And so we were in the living room visiting with Stella. And I told her what had just happened in therapy. So this was right after the therapy session. And she was like “He said that?” I was like “Yeah.” And she got really quiet, and she leaned in, and she goes “Eve. Don’t go back to therapy with him.”
And I was like, “Why?” And she was like, “I’m really worried about you.” And I said, “Okay.” And she’s like, “Unless you have a really really good therapist who can spot the manipulation. He’s not engaging in good faith.”
And so that really—cause up until that point, somehow I thought it was a good session, because like, he’d agreed to work on the fact that he was gaslighting me—even though he was blaming me for it. That was the first time that I was like oh, like, don’t go back? Oh. Why? Like, what? You know? And then—so it took like, the whole, processing that, through the whole night.
And I remember, he came into the room at one point, when I was in there with her, to get supper or something. And I got up and I went over to him. And I asked him for a hug. And I think he gave me a hug, but it was like hard and cold and withdrawn and just, completely disconnected.
So yeah, the Friday night, walking to the place where I ate supper, and thinking about the fried chicken I was gonna eat. I felt like I’d been under water for as long as I could remember, and I suddenly had come up and breathed for the first time. And I felt like genuine relief that I was not with him. And for the first time, I felt not afraid of losing the relationship.
It took that—it took that much for me to get to that breaking point.
And then ever after that, in the weeks and months that followed, I would miss him, and I would start to think like, “Maybe we can work it out. Maybe…” You know, “Maybe it was a misunderstanding—” and then I would remember that moment in therapy. And I was like, “No. No, he lied in therapy. And I cannot go back from that.” And that was the backstop for me. That kept me from ever wanting to go back into the relationship or try to work things out.
I mean after that it was like, I never thought that we would get back together. I just thought maybe we could not have a completely horrible breakup and end up hating each other. I thought maybe there was a possibility of—if not friendship, then some kind of peace.
Which he completely obliterated.
1. Messages from Amber are republished here with permission. Read Kali Tal’s analysis of the full correspondence here.
2. Franklin has since referred on Quora to my accidentally breaking a mug of his while washing dishes as a second example of my “smashing” his things in “anger.” See also my Twitter thread about that incident.