I’m so lucky in so many ways. That I am born in a progressive developed country. That I’ve been able to have children I wanted. That my life is abundant. And lucky, that others like Franklin Veaux have paved the way for my plural relationship choices on ‘new trails through a trackless wilderness.’
I haven’t escaped pain in my life, nor would I want to, because pain I’ve discovered presents a hidden path for growth, to a land where you discover new horizons and limitless possibilities. But as those of us who practice polyamory know, those paths are still unbeaten, still painful. Worse still, it is not only about the pain that you create for yourself, it is also about the pain you inflict on others. Terrible, emotional pain.
And when one of the biggest names in polyamory today writes a book about his own heart-wrenching mistakes, well, you can’t help but want to pick it up. This morning I did (and got nothing else done). It squeezed out emotions that I thought long-healed, and reminded me of my own painful past.
My pain was genuine. It just wasn’t her fault. That was another difficult lesson to learn: sometimes, the responsibility for our suffering lies inside, not outside. Insecurity is a sneaky bastard that way; it tears us apart from within as it whispers in our ear, “See what this person is doing to you?” My heart was filled with fire and destruction. I raged in the grip of my own insecurity. And then she was gone. I woke the day after she left, my heart broken, and there was nothing I could do.
In his long awaited book “The Game Changer: A memoir of disruptive love” Franklin Veaux delivers the back-story of how he’s become one of those biggest names. It’s not what the book is meant to show perhaps, nevertheless that is what came through for me simply because he honestly describes the process of how he’s become the man he is today.
Franklin Veaux practices polyamory compassionately. He treats people as people, not as interchangeable commodities. He is in fact, famous for it. It’s a difficult thing to do when we all have needs and all seek to satisfy them through relationships. Often we learn those lessons through teachers and back then Franklin’s teacher for so many of these lessons was his girlfriend Amber (the game changer of the title).
“I have a question,” she said one evening. “You say you love having other people in your life. Why don’t you value their agency?”
I scratched my head. The question seemed absurd on its face. Of course I valued my lovers’ agency, their right to run their own lives! My partners were free to do whatever they liked! “What do you mean?” I asked. “I don’t want to control my partners. I don’t want them to belong to me. How do I not value their agency? They can do whatever they want!”
“They can do whatever they want,” Amber said, “except love you the way they want to. Isn’t that what’s most important?”
This isn’t a book of overt lessons, like More Than Two (co-authored with another game changer Eve Rickert). It is a simple tale of love and heartbreak and pretends to be nothing more; it needs to be nothing more. But there are also beautiful passages to take away, inspiring quotes and tender moments packaged between glimpses of the Franklin few of us know, the one whose favourite high school video game was Atari Star Wars, the one who was a drop out from college, the one who loves deeply and passionately. The man who is usually masked on his blog by forthright and highly logical language. In the pages of this book I discovered a poet who believes
All the promises in the world are worth less than tissue paper in the face of the runaway train of time. We can, all of us, be snatched away from the people we love at any moment, no matter how much we want to stay.
And someone who understands some fundamental truths about our reality, and our humanity.
When I was eleven, I learned that one day, billions of years hence, the sun will burn out. The entire world, with all its trees and kittens and people and little fluffy clouds, will become a cold, lifeless cinder. That was my first experience with the Void: the reality that everything will, in time, cease to be.
When you read this book, when not if, you will also realize another fundamental truth. Franklin is not well-known because he’s acutely intelligent, loves kink and has paved the way for those who want to love more. He’s well-known because in a world where people damage themselves to squeeze themselves into ill-fitting boxes, he’s a person who tries to be the best and most authentic version of himself he can be.