Our account of the Fenzorselli-McBrownigal Fallout
Addendum (November 2014):
Since I have written this, I have discovered many new facts and perspectives about Wes Fenza. I now believe him to be possibly sociopathic/psychopathic and potentially dangerous to anyone around him. He has sexually assaulted people, lied on many accounts, and continues, to this day, to attempt to control the narratives around him. The details of how I came to believe this are too complicated to dig into, and I will leave that for private correspondences. I believe the original account is too forgiving and fair towards him, but wrote it in an attempt to heal, not to blame.
Wes has retaliated with his own story, again, since this account was first published. His narrative includes many private correspondences, embellishments, and outright lies. Wes Fenza does not seem to care for the truth. He and (from what Hilary has subsequently told me) Gina as well, are concerned with “winning” more than anything else.
Wes Fenza has no concern for consent. He will lie, harass, and even insist people ignore what we say in order to make sure that his side of events is believed and that his willingness to use people for his ends is hidden. When confronted about his sexual abuse of people, he laughs, denies, and then finally pseudo-apologizes. When he does not get the responses he wants from people, he harasses, abuses, and ultimately traumatizes them. He’s done it to us, he’s done it to Hilary, and he’s done it to others, many who prefer to remain unnamed.
And I know that there are people who still like and respect him, and probably think poorly of me. He, and to a large degree Gina (Hilary insists she is nowhere near innocent, as Hilary has been harassed and force to demand no contact from her as well) have settled into an unhealthy and immature status of feeling superior to others and to make sure that I don’t win. But they are playing a different game.
I will make sure that anyone who wants to hear knows that Wes is a sexual predator, liar, and an abusive narcissist. The trauma he has caused me has been significant and ongoing. A time will come, hopefully, soon, when I will no longer avoid him. I’m not strong enough for that yet, but that time will come. And when that time comes, I will not back down from him, and I will not allow his tendency to control his surroundings to prevent me from speaking publically, loudly, about who Wes Fenza really is.
Wes Fenza is potentially dangerous to women. Wes Fenza is possibly a psychopath with no actual concern for anything except that which gets him what he wants. He has no compunction about lying, manipulating, and using the combination of truth and lies to spin a narrative consistent with his interests.
I once thought Wes was a deeply insecure and flawed man who might be able to learn, grow, and mature. I no longer believe that. Now, I understand that he’s just an awful human being who uses people for his own purposes, and I was fooled for all too long.
I once loved Gina. The fact is that I still do, at least the Gina I knew. Gina, while not innocent by any stretch of the imagination (I’ve read Hilary’s draft email she never sent to Gina’s last unwanted correspondence, and it’s pretty damning to both Gina and Wes), is largely a victim here.
There are many victims, here. And while I have made many mistakes myself, I do not have the delusional sense of superiority, willingness to lie and manipulate in order to get my way, nor the cold calculating ability to construct a narrative based upon selfish desires and lies which could allow me to keep up the illusions that the cult of Lord Wesselton has built. Wes is not merely flawed, he intentionally manipulates, lies, and abuses people. Disbelieve me at your own risk.
This article is now public.
Written by Shaun McGonigal, with contributions from Ginny Brown
For months now Ginny and I have chosen to be quiet about what happened between us and the Fenzorsellis (AKA, Wes, Gina, and Jessie). Ginny and I have talked about the fallout many times between ourselves, and we essentially agree about what went wrong. Ginny, however, has been able to move on with better success than I have. Quite simply, she moved on emotionally, at least in some ways, long before we moved out. She had come to conclusions about their dynamics, behaviors, and characters before things went bad. I was still in a place of hope, and therefore experienced more pain, when things went badly.
So, while public displays of drama are often only interesting to interested parties, and to everyone else they probably look like immature behavior, I feel compelled to tell my own (admittedly biased) side of the story. This will be long, it will be unpleasant, and it will almost certainly provoke feelings in the people involved. I do not wish to hurt anyone further, but I feel that this is part of the means of moving on. I am sorry for any awkwardness, hurt, anger, or continued silly drama this perpetuates.
Gina has written her side of the story on their new blog (a blog I, in good faith, supplied an XML file for their PolySkeptic posts, but now wish I had just told them no when they asked for it). Wes wrote something similar as well, as a draft post on PolySkeptic.com (which was never published), as a threat to me after I referred to him as a “bully” on a post of mine back in February of 2014. His account of things was full of half-truths, exaggerations, and blatant attacks on me as a person. Wes insists that it’s all true, and I’m free to be wrong if I disagree.
In response to this draft post, Ginny sent an email to everyone in our former family, expressing her anger and concerns for Wes’ attitude and views. Ginny’s frustrated attempt to address Wes’ thoughts, in a private email correspondence, led to Wes writing a response a few days later with an expanded version of that draft post which was much meaner and which Gina apparently checked for factual errors, because her memory is “impeccable.” It was after that when I cut off ties with Gina, and I have not spoken with her in person since then. What happened between then and her own complete cut off of me (when she posted her own account later on) is largely a mystery to me.
I do not know how many people out there have any idea how hurt, angry, and beaten down Ginny and I have felt over the last couple of years. You may know about how much Wes hates me, how hurt and angry Gina is at me (she has reason to be), and you may not want to know more than this. I don’t blame you. Nonetheless, I would urge you to read the whole account which follows.
I won’t blame you if you never do so. This is mostly for me and the interested parties. This is a project created in order to make sure that anyone who is interested has a place we can point to as another version of what happened between the Fenzorsellis and the McBrownigals. This is my biased account.
For the last several months I have been struggling with symptoms consistent with PTSD in addition to my diagnosed Borderline Personality Disorder which I have already written about extensively on PolySkeptic.com. The last few months, for me, have been dominated by nightmares, triggered emotional responses, intense stress and anxiety, and unhealthy levels of anger. The source of these feelings stems from the treatment by and behavior of Wes Fenza, primarily, especially during the 18 months or so while Ginny and I lived with him, but also the subsequent months where he used their blog, social media, and word of mouth to continue a campaign to make me look unstable, abusive, and untrustworthy. And while I did make mistakes which hurt Gina, Wes is as responsible as anyone else for the amount of awkwardness, enmity, and trauma which this situation has caused us all.
His inability to accept or even acknowledge responsibility for his behavior—whether towards Ginny while they dated and after, myself for most of the last two years, and towards other people who have come, independently, to the same kinds of conclusions that Ginny and I have come to about his character, behavior, and personality—is unacceptable.
What led to the five of us falling apart in such dramatic fireworks was due to mistakes on all parts. No one of us is wholly or overwhelmingly responsible, although I also don’t think the blame is equal on all counts by any measure. I share a large amount of responsibility for the fallout myself, and have accepted such responsibility in the past and will continue to accept what responsibility is mine. However, assigning specific degrees of blame is a silly game which I do not wish to pursue. This said, what has not been addressed, despite the early efforts by Ginny and I, is the culpability of Wes in particular.
The remainder of this account will overwhelmingly be about him. Gina, in her account, seems to have concluded that she was, in the end, a pawn in a battle for good and evil; where I apparently saw myself as good and Wes as the evil. This is obviously simplistic and a straw-man. Wes and I grew to dislike each other, and our inability to communicate directly was one of the many causes of the severity of the fallout. Gina was not a pawn, but she was the obvious person in the middle of this unfortunate state of events being involved with both of us, previously.
My utilizing her as a mediator was a terrible mistake, one which I shall regret for many years. But for reasons I hope to articulate, I believe that attempting to negotiate boundaries, discuss, or even talk with Wes about the concerns I will articulate here was largely pointless. Negotiation must happen between equals, and Wes does not and apparently never saw me as an equal. Thus, this account is by no means an attempt to convince Wes of anything, to prove myself right in the end, or to escalate any drama. The point here is to offer another thumb on the scale, as it were.
I have sat idly by, watching a narrative emerge from afar through friends, social media, etc which proposes a set of facts, interpretations, and conclusions which are so arrogantly and myopically biased that it defies belief that anyone could be so blind to their own flaws and mistakes. But nonetheless the facts are irrefutable; this dramatic situation of enmity, accusations, and character assassinations has reached silly proportions.
With that, let’s get to my own silliness.
From the very beginning of our cohabitation, Wes was dismissive, mean, and disrespectful towards me. From the beginning, I was dealing with effects of a personality disorder which have effects on how well I communicate, how safe and loved I feel, and how easily I can find myself to be dis-proportionally emotional. Most, if not all, of us in that household had our own mental health issues; that was mine. Instead of rising to the best we were capable of, and helping each other do the same, we fell prey to our various flaws, poor communication habits, lack of consideration, and as a result frustrations and eventually enmity emerged. It was, in short, a dismal failure on all of our parts. Moving forward, I will try to learn, grow, and change based upon what I have learned from my own mistakes and I hope everyone else will do the same.
From the beginning, even before we moved in, I saw behavior patterns from Wes which worried me. But because he’s socially skilled and intelligent, I did what most people do; I overlooked it. I thought he was insensitive and arrogant, but those are forgivable flaws, and with time I hoped he’d grow and it would not be a problem down the road. What I didn’t understand, something which Ginny had to explain to me later on (because she spent much more time talking with him than I) was that while Wes claims to want criticism and honesty from other people about his flaws and misbehavior, the majority of the time any actual criticism reaches him, it is met with defensiveness, rationalization, and counter-attacks (in some cases).
His request for criticism is disingenuous, and it seems quite possible that even he is not aware of this. In my opinion, self-awareness is where Wes is weakest, and his ability to empathize and understand other people is extremely stunted. As a result of these realizations, I eventually stopped trying to communicate with him because it was too frustrating and only led to my disorderly triggers being pulled. Whether by accident or by design, Wes’ behavior was a perfect set of emotional triggers for me.
Perhaps a good friend of mine is right; perhaps I should pity him, and not be angry at him. Maybe I will get there some day.
While still living there, Ginny and I started to see through Wes’ facade, and we simply didn’t know what to do. In the last few months we have heard from many other people who also saw through this facade of his, and many of these people have subsequently kept their distance from him and said nothing about their opinions about Wes as a person. What do you say to someone who is that seemingly un-self-aware?
One common conclusion from people that have come to know the Fenzorsellis is that they really like Gina but often feel sympathy for her, they generally like Jessie as well, and then when they mention Wes….
Some simply dismiss him as an insecure asshole, not worth their time. Some like him mostly, but notice that he treats some people pretty badly, at least sometimes, and so they don’t want to get too close. Some utterly hate and despise him, and were glad to see us get out of their house. A couple of people at least, besides Ginny and I, have been directly, seriously, mistreated by him and have decided, like we did, to stay quiet about it because they felt like confronting or accusing him turns into a rationalized debate that always leaves him feeling like he’s done nothing significantly wrong, while the other simply feels bullied into submission.
That is exactly the feeling Ginny and I have when we have considered whether it was worth trying to communicate with him about his behavior; it’s pointless. He’ll just rationalize his behavior and argue with you until you either agree with his point of view, or you don’t and will therefore slowly become more and more ignored by him. If he can’t get your agreement, then he’ll get distance from you.
This pattern is a form of bullying, and in some cases it’s gaslighting. I’ve seen him do things like the above to many people, including myself, Ginny, Jessie, and Gina at separate times (not to mention many other people who spent time around us). He argues with people, especially about specific things about him, relentlessly out of what I perceive as a deep insecurity consistent with some aspects of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I am not convinced he’d be diagnosable as a narcissist, but this personality disorder is fairly close to describing some of the behavior patterns that he employs, especially when he’s not getting his way or is around someone he doesn’t like or respect.
He’ll have a rationalized explanation for this, of course.
Here’s what Ginny has to say, recently, about her experience with Wes while dating him:
When Wes and I were dating, we had a couple of conflicts that left me feeling uncomfortable and dominated. When I expressed a desire that was contrary to his wishes, he argued with me about it for hours, insisting that my account of my motivations was dishonest and warning me of the damage it would do to our relationship if I insisted on setting that boundary. This argument was couched in terms of honesty and rationality, but it left me feeling browbeaten and gaslit. At the end of the night, after nearly an entire day arguing off and on, I gave in and told him that his account of my motivations was correct, just so I could end the argument and sleep. When I later told him that that’s what I’d done, he got angry with me for lying to him, without taking any responsibility for the fact that over twelve hours of badgering and disbelieving my honest accounts had left me feeling like I had no choice.
There were other occasions where I expressed a feeling and it turned into a huge referendum on whether that feeling was reasonable and rational. I knew from both talking and observation that this was how Wes and Gina interacted, and Gina considered it a very positive dynamic. It was not positive for me: I felt I was being treated like an emotional infant, that my account of my own feelings was not going to be trusted or respected, and that my feelings would never be honored or considered unless Wes deemed them reasonable.
Believing that I have a right to my own feelings, wishes, and boundaries, even if they conflict with someone else’s value system, was a very new thing for me then. (It still is in many ways.) I was, and am, extremely vulnerable to any suggestion that no, in fact, my feelings are not legitimate or reasonable or acceptable, and that I need to suck it up and change them to match someone else’s idea of what’s right. So, in much the same way that Shaun’s emotional outbursts function as abuse to Gina, Wes’ insistent and often relentless challenging of my feelings (when they contradicted something he wanted) functioned as abuse to me. Gina, by talking about how much he’d helped her and praising in him the exact things that were causing me strain, made this a lot harder to deal with (although in no way intentionally.) I felt that I’d be on my own if I ever expressed my hesitance about this mode of operating, and often I doubted myself, wondering if they were both right and I was, in fact, an emotional infant in need of Wes’ superior wisdom and guidance. I knew deep down that that wasn’t true, but it was a hard mode of thought to resist, because of how neatly it fit with the damaging messages I grew up with.
When Ginny first tried to break up with Wes, it didn’t go well. Here’s Ginny writing about this back in February, privately. Ginny is talking about how Wes responded when, after weeks of feeling bad about her feelings waning from him, she finally talked to him about wanting to break up.
What I wasn’t expecting to be blamed for was the feelings themselves. But Wes immediately started telling me that I should have done more, should have worked harder to get close to him, should have tried harder to cultivate feelings for him. He insisted that I was lying about my motivations, that there must be some deep-rooted personal issue rather than just an absence of physical and romantic attraction. He demanded to know what it was that I disliked him for and judged him unworthy of dating for. I tried to tell him that I didn’t know, I just wasn’t feeling it, and he insisted I was being dishonest. I told him I was very uncomfortable with the idea of having a conversation about every little thing I disliked about him — I didn’t think it would be helpful to either of us. He pushed for such a conversation anyway.
I felt very strongly that I didn’t want to have that conversation, but Gina was also urging me toward it, and said that the reason he and [name redacted] were no longer friends was that she’d refused to do the same thing. I didn’t want to lose any friendship with him that was possible, and I didn’t want to jeopardize the other relationships that were involved, so I gave in, even though I had a lot of misgivings. I started to list things, and he responded to every one with defensiveness, with “you’ve got me all wrong” and assertions that if I’d only paid more attention I’d have seen that those things weren’t accurate expressions of who he was. He insisted that these protests weren’t attempts to get me to change my mind about breaking up with him, but they certainly felt like it to me. I felt like I was being maneuvered into a position where I had to justify my reasons for breaking up, and then all my reasons were being shot down.
I guess maybe it doesn’t sound that bad, but I still have panicky flashbacks to those conversations. I am not exaggerating when I say that they were traumatic to me. I felt that I was being forced to defend my right to feel the way I felt, and I was trying desperately to do that while also being respectful of the fact that he must be hurting. There was a lot of whiplash, a lot of Wes declaring me to be a fundamentally dishonest and untrustworthy person who he might have to seriously warn Gina against dating, and then later being kind and understanding to me. I understand now that he was more hurt and angry than I realized, but he took out his hurt by pinning all kinds of guilt and shame on me.
They did get back together. Here’s Ginny again:
So for the first few weeks everything was great. The emotional high of relief and reconciliation carried me forward. I viewed Wes through a lens wherein everything bad that had happened between us was my fault, and he was gracious and forgiving and kind and far more patient than I deserved. Again, it was all completely sincere: just also completely dysfunctional.
I still felt like the repentant sinner, hugely guilty for everything that had happened. So can you imagine how it felt when my newly-rekindled feelings for Wes again started to wane? I could not possibly put everybody through that again. Gina was still having issues trusting me after everything, I could already hear all the accusations Wes would throw at me of dishonesty and inconsistency and untrustworthiness. This time there was no way I could possibly justify my feelings, so I just suppressed them, denied them even to myself. I felt completely trapped. I had already confessed that the feelings I was having, or wasn’t having were wrong, and everybody had agreed with me (as I perceived it. I probably was projecting somewhat.)
The months from January to March are a total blur to me, but it’s then that I started having suicidal thoughts. I’m sorry for how dramatic that sounds, especially in what looks from the outside like a trivially simple situation (just break up with the guy if you don’t want to be with him, Ginny!) but in my head it was that serious. I thought I was basically a piece of shit, and if everybody knew how I was feeling they would agree, and since I was so miserable in my piece-of-shit existence it would probably be best all around if I just stopped existing. So ran the logic.
In essence, any rejection or criticism of him is interpreted as something wrong with the other person, not Wes. Wes thinks he’s awesome, and if you disagree then you’re just wrong. This isn’t confidence, it’s arrogance at very least.
There was another aspect of the first time that Ginny broke up with Wes that is relevant here. Wes became overwhelmingly emotionally inconsolable and Gina told me, at the time, that she had never seen him so affected. Gina didn’t know what to do, because she had never seen Wes this emotional. Her response was to put tremendous emotional pressure on Ginny to get back together with a person who was being (in my opinion) abusive to her. Ginny was hurt by both Gina and Wes during this time, and was never able to feel fully close or comfortable with either of them again. Related to this, Ginny and Gina eventually broke up as well.
As an aside, I didn’t know about many of the details of all of this, as well as other things which Wes did while dating Ginny (including sexually assault her), until the last few months. Had I known previously, I would have been angry and distrustful of him much earlier. Of course, his actions to other women later on would continue to be a problem.
Then there was the time when Wes pulled a woman–a woman who had recently rejected his sexual interest–out of bed with me, at 4:30 in the morning, to essentially berate her for defaulting on some commitment that she had made with him which was related to what she would do in the condition that she and I had sex. I understand being upset and annoyed about the violation of an agreement (regardless of whether the agreement was wise for her to agree to or not), but the need to interrupt her sleeping time, in bed with me, in order to have that conversation with her at 4:30 am is inappropriate (at very least).
In relation to this type of behavior, Wes has sexually crossed lines with women more than once. Most of the time it’s the “harmless” playful (for example) pulling of a woman onto his lap (I know for a fact that at least a few didn’t want him to do this, but were afraid to stop him from doing so). In one case, while I was talking to a woman who Wes was also interested in, he literally picked up her chair (with her in it), moved it closer to his (facing her towards him, rather than me) and then said “that’s better”, and started talking to her. He literally interrupted a conversation she and I were having to do this, and from his point of view he probably saw it as saving the woman from my company (since I’m “terrible”). The woman, over the next few minutes, inched her chair back over towards me, and she gave me a look of disbelief. She and I dated, briefly, and stayed on good terms.
There have also been at least two occasions where he directly crossed consent lines with different women (who do not want to be identified). Based on the circumstances, it’s unclear how aware he was that the person wasn’t consenting, but at the very least he showed a profound lack of sensitivity or concern for the safety and emotional wellbeing of the women involved, even afterward when the violation was pointed out to him. In both cases he laughed off the incident once he was made aware, and he was (at best) careless and insensitive enough that he re-traumatized the women in question in later encounters.
[I, Shaun, will note that the previous paragraph was added by Ginny. I, personally, do not know many of the details of those situations]
[Added July 25th — Since the writing of this, he has been confronted about one of these incidents of consent violation. His response removed all my doubts: I now firmly believe that these violations were knowing and deliberate, and I can bear witness to the fact that he blatantly lied about and blamed the victim of one of them. This, needless to say, alters my and Shaun’s feelings about some of the more charitable statements made in this document, but apart from this paragraph we have left it unedited. If anybody wants more information about the situations being discussed, they may ask me personally. — Ginny]
This is not an attempt to demonize Wes or paint him with irremovable colors. I don’t think he’s irredeemably awful, but I do think he needs to recognize the problems which affect him and cause him to mistreat others.
I very much regret not allowing myself to be more open with him in the beginning, in order to try to develop a potential mutual understanding and co-supportive relationship within the family we were trying to create. The reasons I did not do so were partially my fault, and partially his. I erred in being afraid to open myself up to someone who was not inviting it, and he erred in not creating a safe space for me, emotionally or psychologically, to open up. I am not convinced he was, or is, capable of the vulnerability or openness (especially with men) that such a co-supportive relationship would have required, but I should have at least tried. And, in time, he grew to strongly dislike me, and eventually such a relationship became impossible to attempt.
Please understand, while I am extremely hurt by and angry with Wes, I do not hate him. OK, I do sometimes, especially when I’m really angry or hurt by some action of his. Wes has good qualities. He’s funny, outgoing, confident, and he’s very good at networking and selling himself and what he cares about. But those qualities are not tempered within him, and it often spills over onto him making fun of people, making everything and every space about him, tribalistically carving out an in-group/out-group mentality, and rationalizing things he wants to be true, but aren’t (what we philosophers call ‘sophistry’).
He creates, through his treatment of people and selective gracing of certain people with the prize of being worth his time, a kind of bubble of people who help him feel good about himself. Anyone who doesn’t follow along with this scheme becomes subject to a convoluted rationalization and becomes a persona non grata in his social circle, a circle in which such disgraced people will become teased, mocked, and trivialized.
Just like with Ginny’s attempts to break up with him, if your reasons for not wanting to give him what he wants do not please him, then you become not worthy of his time, attention, or concern. The effect is to push people away who are not submissive to his perceived superiority, and keep close people who idolize him, do not threaten him, or simply quietly allow his perceptions to persist. If I were being less charitable, I would call his bubble a cult of personality (at least one person I have heard from, someone Wes apparently dated very briefly some time back, used this exact phrase), but I think that’s too strong a term if I’m trying to be fair.
A little background about Shaun, for context.
I grew up with a broken family. My childhood was emotionally problematic for a few reasons. My father was not around, and when I finally got to know him he turned out to be abusive (my mom has later told me stories about him which are too terrible to repeat here). He became the foil for all the things I didn’t want to be, but we were so much alike in so many basic ways. He used to look like me. He laughs the same. We both have bad tempers (I’m not sure what he’s diagnosed with, if he is diagnosed). My step-father, while often fun and who provided well for us, was emotionally unavailable and extremely defensive about anything intellectual or “touchy-feely”. My mom was genuinely caring and present, but her own issues got in the way sometimes as well. I know she loves me and did what she thought was good (and it mostly was great), but such a familial background set me up for some emotional issues related to family.
I yearned for a loving, emotionally close, and safe family environment. But family for me growing up was lots of emotional tension, violent arguing, and then I had my personal foil of a father who is a racist, homophobic, and abusive Tea Party type who refers to himself, proudly, as a redneck. I understood why he became this way very early on in my adulthood, and I wanted to not be like him even if I had a lot of the same impulses and proclivities that he did. I yearned to do better (and have, with a few exceptions I’m working on), and we have not talked recently.
So ever since then I’ve yearned for a real family of my own. A loving family full of people whom I could trust to not dismiss me, make me feel unsafe, or have their own emotional walls to create a closed and unhealthy home, relationship, and pathways of communication. Over the years, I have projected this hope onto many people, some who have not disappointed me. Most have. Myself included.
An invitation, and Expectations
So when I found myself in a place, about two years ago, where people were willing to take us into their family, who might care for me and who I cared about, I blindly and unwisely poured these hopes into that invitation. But because of lingering fears, I was unable to be emotionally open myself. Being too scared to instigate emotional openness with everyone else (I’m still working on this), I hoped others would. And I had good relationships with my partners (even with Gina, for most of our relationship), but I was terrified to open up to either Wes or Jessie, and this created uneasiness, distance, and the stifling emotional environment began to cause pain within me, and eventually anger (essentially at myself, but it’s aim was wide).
Daily life in that house felt cold, to me. From the beginning, Wes was continually mean to me. Micro-aggressions, dismissive behavior, lack of consideration for my concerns or feelings were common from Wes specifically. Because I’m insecure and easily adjust to being mistreated, it went on for a long time without comment. You see, I was at a point in my trying to understand my disorder where I was trying to not allow emotional reactions to dominate my life. I was trying to have small, common, every-day offenses not become a focal point of my emotional health. I was trying not to be aggressive, reactive, and it amounted to my never standing up to myself when I was being mistreated.
As you might guess, the result was that the behavior continued, my resentment grew, and distance between Wes and I became, eventually, palpable. There were good moments. There were times, especially in the beginning, where there were signs that this experiment of ours could work. These were times when I was able to be more open, feel a little safe, and think of that house as my home. There were signs that this arrangement could be a family.
When we were approached about the documentary, it was another sign that things might work out. And the times around then were fairly good, and we were mostly doing well. I thought, then, that maybe my instincts were wrong. I began to grow a little more hopeful, all the while repressing the pain of the constant mis-treatment.
What I didn’t know at the time was that Ginny was not happy there, mostly due to her experiences with Wes and Gina previously. While no open tension existed, mostly because Ginny is very good at internalizing and ignoring emotionally difficult concerns, Ginny was still hurt by what Wes had done to her and how Gina, being dependent upon Wes in a number of unhealthy ways (although she became less so as time went on), had exacerbated the problem. Ginny never fully trusted either of them the same way, and she secretly thought we’d be better not living there.
Slowly, it started to become clear to both Ginny and I that there was a level of emotional immaturity going on among the rest of them that Ginny and I felt powerless to fix, and so we went on with our lives hoping that they would grow, as we all hopefully do, in time. I, being the oldest, had seen a lot of the behavior I was witnessing in that house, within myself included. Wes, reminds me, in some ways, of what I was like 10-12 years ago; selfish, insecure, defensive, arrogant, and very focused on having women in my life who could give me the illusion that the feelings I was repressing deep inside were not real. How could they be real? Look how awesome my life is! (I would say in my head).
I had some hope that in time he would figure it out, and then his genuinely good qualities would even out his behavior. There are times when I think this will still happen, and other times that I think he’ll maintain the bubble forever since he receives little to no pressure to change at home. I, mistakenly, tried to express my frustrations with Gina about his behavior. This was a mistake because Gina tends to take on too much blame, responsibility, and mistreatment from people, and this attempt at intervention through her turned into worse and worse behavior on my part, rather than anything that could have helped the situation.
However, the alternatives were not good, either. Wes’ treatment towards me had made me not inclined to communicate with him. I came to see that he would not listen to me or respect anything I would have to say. In a correspondence with a former mutual friend, Ginny had this to say:
My experiences with communicating sensitivities and emotional vulnerabilities to Wes have not been positive.
Which is an understatement, to say the least. Ginny is often too diplomatic, in my opinion, and sells herself short all too often. Ginny was a person that Wes actually liked, and when she communicated any vulnerabilities he made her feel manipulated and, I would argue, abused. Why would I have ever opened up to him, given how hostile he was to me?
Wes has said that I’m not only untrustworthy and abusive, but that he has nothing to learn from me and that I don’t understand him. So given that, why would I have tried to communicate with him at all? He did not create an environment which was conducive to that kind of communication. He would not accept that there was a problem, and so I was left with a frustrating circumstance and an increasingly hostile living situation. Wes was not a safe person for me to try and communicate with, especially when doing so would have necessitated making myself vulnerable.
Here’s Ginny again, from that same email as above:
I had been planning to begin addressing the issues between me and Wes once we were moved out. I didn’t feel safe doing so until I had the possibility of complete escape if it went badly. Shaun wasn’t exaggerating when he said I am terrified. Thinking about re-opening that conversation still makes me shaky and teary. I realize that this is largely because of my own issues and vulnerable spots, but that doesn’t make it easier.
We both needed a safe, welcoming, and loving home environment, and we didn’t get one. Not even close. There was a time, a while back, where even Gina would ask Wes to stop being mean to me, and Gina is largely blind to Wes’ awful behavior and forgives it endlessly (so if she saw it, it must have been pretty bad). After our first (or second, perhaps) podcast, a long-distance friend (who had not met either Wes or I in person) remarked how mean Wes was to me. It was constant.
Ginny very recently recounted a time last Fall (2013) or so, when I wasn’t around, in which an argument occurred about how poorly Wes treated me. He said he’d stop doing so, and perhaps to some degree he did, but by then the damage was done. I didn’t feel safe, welcome, or loved at home. I felt bullied, dismissed, and hated.
Here is one example of a typical kind of Wes-behavior I lived with.
If Jess or someone else stayed over with me, because we had limited bedroom space we would stay on the futon on the first floor. This creates a logistical problem because Jessie often liked to stay up late, and does so in the living room where the futon was. So, there were times when she’d stay up late when my guest and/or I had to get up relatively early (or just wanted some alone time!), meaning that by the time we could go to bed it was quite late. And then, come 6-6:30 in the morning, Wes would come downstairs, turn on the TV to watch Buffy/Angel/etc while he exercised, 10 feet from where we had been sleeping.
He seemed completely unaware that this would be perceived as a problem. Jess, being the kind of person she is, didn’t care much (although she did say it was a “douchey thing to do”) except for my sake since I was always irate when he did this. Now, I had a choice here. I could talk to him about this and subject myself to the triggering pile or rationalized bullshit he’d spew if I did so, or I could talk to Gina about it. It was really a lose-lose, but in the end they are correct that I should have talked to Wes, and not Gina, about this behavior.
I don’t think it would have mattered, but at least it would have been the responsible action to take. I take responsibility for that mistake. But the fact is that he still did it even after he knew it pissed me off. That is not an acceptable way to treat a person you live with, especially since Jess came over maybe once a week. It would be different if this was something that happened a couple or few times a week (which it may have, once or twice) , but it was once a week the majority of the time and he was unwilling to sacrifice any of what he wanted to not be immensely inconsiderate of other people.
He did the same for other overnight guests, as well.
This on top of the jokes at my expense (which were not said lovingly, because he never actually liked me), the mocking of me he’d do nearly daily, and the plethora of other behavior that made me feel small, sad, and made me retreat further into myself led to my life there becoming anxiety-ridden, marked by depression, and caused me immense self-doubt. When I would eventually leave, it became clear to me that I had been mistreated, and the PTSD started to show itself. I think, most of the time, that ‘abuse’ is too strong a word, but it was not loving, welcoming, or home/family-building behavior at very least.
I know now that he didn’t like having me there. The kicker is that it was his idea to invite us to live with them. Wes made no attempt to get to know me (he thinks he knows me, but his description makes anyone who does know me laugh or angry, depending), he made no attempt to make me feel welcome, and I suspect that there was some level of patient effort on his part to wait for any sign of a problem which he could use to get me to leave.
And, eventually, he got one.
I fucked up. There is no way around that. I made some mistakes which were legitimate reasons for concern, and them being upset with me for those mistakes is completely acceptable. Gina has outlined some of what I did, and I won’t address all of it here. To start, at some point in my relationship with Jess, I stopped using condoms. Due to completely irrational and immoral rationalizations I told myself, I didn’t tell Gina until some time later. My reasons for this lie of omission were bullshit, the error was forgivable had I come clean immediately, and I regret hurting Gina in this way very deeply.
Later, when things started going badly, I threw a stool.
I was having an extreme borderline episode related to what I thought was Jess and I breaking up (we’re still together, as I write this, months later). Ginny was not around to calm me down (as she has done once or twice before), and Gina was never comfortable or good at doing so. Gina was afraid of me. Now, there was actually no way I would have physically hurt her, not even after she broke up with me, but she was scared and I wasn’t helping.
I was freaking out, and Gina and I were talking. I was also dealing with hurt feelings related to Wes’ treatment of me, and in anger I said “Wes is abusive, and if you don’t see it then you’re delusional.” It was a hurtful, mean, and wrong thing for me to do. When she, understandably, got upset and walked away crying, I fell into a hole of deep sadness and depression, and later that night when Wes came to me for an explanation of how he was abusive, I threatened to punch him.
I didn’t actually want to punch him, I wanted him to go away. I was completely and utterly wrong in my actions, and when they all left me to go upstairs, my height of despair led to me throwing a stool. As a borderline [or, at least, as someone with some borderline symptoms], the idea of being abandoned is a major trigger. So here I was, in the downward spiral of a household where I was being mistreated by Wes, afraid that Gina was going to leave me, and also dealing with the possibility of Jess leaving me. I also don’t handle rejection well.
This incident was a scream for help, which was not recognized for what it was (which is understandable). Jessie came down, not long after, to talk with me. I was alone, curled on the floor and crying when she got down there, and she brought me back from the abyss by talking with me. But the damage was done. Wes wanted me to get medicated or to leave. Gina was afraid of me, and our relationship was on the rocks. I did not do anywhere near enough to rectify any of this damage to my relationship with Gina, and soon after this happened, shortly before we moved out, Gina broke up with me.
After we left, Ginny and I talked about all these things endlessly. We were both hurt and angry, but we thought that in time we might be able to reconcile. Initially, some people thought that Gina and I would eventually get back together. I wanted that, but also knew that the nature of Gina’s relationship with Wes would make this hard for me to be with her again. We needed time, space, and perspective.
I turned to writing, at this point, to find an outlet for my pain, loss, and regret. Much of this writing was angry, but most of it was self-critical. Wes thought that much of what I wrote was about him, when in fact only one post was about him specifically. The other posts that he thought were about him were, to some degree, about the pain he had caused me, but I had been hurt in that way by many people and so the primary intent was to talk about that pain in general. Wes was just the most recent and thus emotionally present example to which those vague posts referred.
I suspect that he’d laugh at that, and point to it as another example of my bending and twisting the truth for my purposes. The truth is that Wes was able to hurt me more deeply than most other people who had done similar emotional damage to me because it was an ongoing, every-day, constant stream of hurt in which I lived. Because I had poured my hopes of a loving family into him as well, he could cut me more deeply.
One post, in particular, was not even about my anger or Wes even a little bit, but was a post based upon a conversation I had had several years before with my friend Staks. In trying to distract myself from the hurt I was living through, I tried writing posts which were philosophical (and thus calming), in nature. Wes thought it was about how I was criticizing him for being too smart, or something, because there was apparently a Facebook conversation about that topic which I had not even seen yet.
In retrospect, I imagine Gina reading some of those posts at that time and seeing it as a continued attack on her husband, and started to see it as proof that she was that pawn in the battle between good and evil. It was never anything like that for me. My writing, whether about Ayn Rand, BPD, Wes, etc, was always about articulating pain, trying to give my mind something calming to focus on, and continued introspection. I honestly know almost nothing about what was happening with them during that time, and with a few exceptions my writing then was not about Wes.
A while after that, Gina wrote her post. Most of what she wrote is true. I do not wish to make an complete account of what I think was true and what wasn’t, because that’s pointless now. In any case after I read Gina’s post, I responded with an email to Gina which said the following:
I just want you to know I am not mad at you for posting that on your new blog (Ginny alerted me to it. I may not have noticed it otherwise). I would have preferred you emailed me privately, but I understand your anger and need to say it publicly. I had wished for us, in time, to talk about this with the better perspective I have gained since then, but it’s pretty clear that probably will not happen now.
I’m sorry things went the way they did, and I’m sorry that I acted in ways that lost your trust. You are a wonderful person, and I wish I had known myself better in order to not have fucked this up as badly as I did. There were ways that we could have communicated better, ways I could have handled the stress I was under better, and a lot of that was my fault for not happening.
I harbor no anger at you. A lot of hurt, but I’ll manage. The last couple of months have been among the hardest of my life. I miss you every day. I still love you, and I probably will as long as I live. I’ll leave you alone after this email, as that seems to be what you would prefer.
And, at the time, I wasn’t angry at her. I am now.
I didn’t get a response to this, nor did I expect one. Instead, I heard that Wes was talking about the fact that I had written this email to her as evidence that I was an awful, terrible person. This was part of an ongoing campaign against me, by Wes, which would continue as he linked to Gina’s post repeatedly in subsequent posts of his. He seems very interested in making sure his dislike of me is publicly known and justified.
I did hear back from a former mutual friend [with whom I have reconnected since], who wrote me what I consider one of the most abusive, mean, and unfair pieces of writing I have ever seen leveled towards me. She was mad, it seemed, that I wrote such a thing. I won’t quote that email, because it’s not really relevant, but what I do want to do is quote part of the letter I sent recently (after a couple of months or so of reflecting) to this same former mutual friend.
When I first read the post [Gina] wrote, I was unable to internalize what she was saying. I was too raw, emotional, and I was carrying too many things in my head to really understand. And despite my willingness to take responsibility for my misbehavior, it was all too mixed up with other feelings to come through cleanly. I did not understand her anger, even though I knew she was angry.
When I wrote Gina after reading it, my intentions were to express that I would not be attacking her or retaliating (nor did I want to). She had expressed fear concerning what I might do after she broke up with me, and I wanted her to know that anger was not how I was feeling towards her. I wanted her to know that I was just feeling sad and that I was sorry. I wanted to say goodbye.
There was a sort-of shock for me concerning the difference between between the Gina which I had last spoken to weeks before and the Gina that I had just read in that post, now around 2 months ago. I was not prepared, and perhaps have not been prepared until recently, to understand that the woman who came to hug me at the Poly Living convention in February was not the same woman who wrote that post, and that the reason for the change had a lot to do with how I had treated her. I had hoped we could be on good terms again in the future, and the thought that it wouldn’t happen was overwhelming.
That is not an excuse. I knew, deep down, that I should not have sent any email to her, no matter the content. I desperately wanted some sort of closure. I wanted to say good bye. I wanted what had been good between Gina and I to mean enough for that, but I had already threw those good things away by hurting her. I didn’t deserve a goodbye, but I selfishly wanted one and the hope that I might get it compelled a poor decision. It was a mistake to do so, born out of selfishness, sadness, and fear. Intentions are not enough, and no matter how well-intentioned the email was, it was a mistake which I regret deeply.
I regret, more deeply than I can articulate, hurting Gina. She was an integral and important part of my life, and I pushed her away. Here’s more from that same letter:
[Gina] deserved better. She deserved every ounce of attention, patience, and love I could give, but I allowed what I selfishly wanted to override that and create a rationalization for asking for things I should have known were going to be emotionally taxing to her. I needed to put her feelings, desires, and concerns at least on par with my own, and I did not do so. I acted selfishly, and as a result I hurt her.
Here was, in front of me, Gina’s description of what I had done, and in reading it I was deeply ashamed for acting in a way that hurt her. I had taken my own selfish feelings, fear, and hurt and directed it at a person who loved me rather than open up when I needed help. Rather than deal with my hurt and fear in a way that would have been loving, intimacy-creating, and healing, I allowed myself to hurt one of the most important people in my life.
I did snap at Gina sometimes, rather than express what was bothering me. I did act in a way that made her feel secondary and unimportant, rather than do all I could to demonstrate how important she was to me. I made her feel like crap and I gave her reasons to be afraid of me, rather than do all I could to make her feel loved, appreciated, and safe. I lied because I was afraid and ashamed of something I had done, rather than admit the moment I had made a mistake. I made selfish decisions in order to avoid the difficulty of resolving problems that existed in my life, including within my relationship with Gina. It was my fault, and there is no excuse for any of it.
There is so much more I could have done to not only treat her better, but to make our relationship stronger and closer. I failed, miserably, in my relationship with Gina and I regret it every day.
I loved Gina, but I didn’t act as if I did sometimes. Towards the end, I mostly acted as if I didn’t love her. I cannot undo any of it, and I have been working very hard to understand the causes of that behavior (with a lot of success, I’ll add). I will make every effort to make sure that I never treat someone I love the way I treated Gina. The way I acted was not proportional to how I felt, and there is no excuse for that. I fucked up, and I’m so very sorry.
I still am sorry. It doesn’t matter anymore, I suppose.
Guiding Philosophies and Double Standards
Especially in the beginning of our living experiment, there were a set of guiding principles, ideals, and quasi-agreements about how we were expected to grow together. Essentially, we were supposed to challenge our comfort zones. Emotional concerns were secondary to being rational people. All of us talked, some of us wrote, and Wes especially was in favor of being willing to try and live rationally, which apparently included making emotional concerns secondary. It wasn’t a healthy guiding principle, and I’m glad I eventually abandoned it.
This was an appealing guiding philosophy for me for a while, but the implications were very problematic. If you read Gina’s post, you read about how I put Gina in the position to not use a condom, which she did at the time without complaint. Over the next several months we went from using condoms to not, and Gina seemed, all of that time, to adjust well to that decision despite the problematic way it started. I knew it was a big deal to her, but I didn’t know that it continued to be a problem because she never told me so. Reading her account of that was a bit of a surprise to me; that it bothered her so much that she would include it as an example of abuse didn’t fit with what happened at all.
Here’s the problem. One, in making requests to stop using condoms, I was asking for what I wanted and negotiating safety boundaries with a woman who I intended to spend the rest of my life with. I was expressing a desire for something which had strong emotional implications for Gina, and so of course I understand, in retrospect, that it felt like I was arguing with or trying to manipulate her. Two, her own husband, Wes, defended endlessly asking for what you want, and he perpetually, as we saw above, would argue with people when what he wanted did not mesh with what other people wanted. In other words, even if her account is accurate here, all I was doing was following the ideal behavior that her own husband used on everyone, including Gina.
While I now recognize the dynamic as unhealthy and harmful, at the time it was the standard we were all supposed to be living by: ask for what you want, and if someone’s resistance to that is irrational, push them to get over it. It was the standard Gina and Wes had apparently been living by for years, and Ginny and I subscribed to it in those early days of our cohabitation, before we came to see how harmful it was.
In retrospect, it seemed like from their point of view this guiding principle and standard for communication was primarily a standard for Wes. Others could use it insofar as Wes was not bothered by it, in any way. Wes was our leader and he got special privileges, is what it felt like.
Now, I understand that Gina and Wes were together a long time before I was around. I understand that Gina considers Wes to be her “savior,” and that I had not earned the same level of trust as he did. But when it comes to us literally behaving the same way (whether that behavior is fine or abusive) but it was fine when he did so and with me it’s an example of abuse, I have to call bullshit.
Yes, I made mistakes. But in this case at least (and there are others), I was following in the family code of asking for what I wanted. Wes is almost never sensitive to the emotional considerations of others when it comes to his needs (he’s even actually argued, with laughable levels of philosophical sophistry, that his selfishness is superior to sacrificing his needs for other people), and I think this is unfortunate. I also happen to believe that I should have been more considerate about how such requests of Gina were handled, especially within our intimate relationship, and I do wish I had approached the issue with more compassion, patience, and love.
But if I was fucking up, so was Wes with many many other people. If this behavior of mine was abusive, then so was Wes’ similar behavior.
I was being insensitive, I admit. But that insensitivity is exactly what Wes does all the time, and he’s not emotionally abusive, according to Gina. Double-fucking-standard. Gina’s blindness to Wes’ flaws is epic. She saw and dealt with it sometimes, but the vast majority of the time she simply overlooked, forgave, and sometimes even praised it.
And what’s worse? Wes rationalizes his behavior.
Wes talks about the issue between “ask culture” and “guess culture” fairly often. He believes that asking/telling what you want is superior to expecting people to guess, or trying to anticipate the feelings and needs of other people. The problem with this is that Wes actually practices, at least sometimes, what Ginny has called (in response to her own frustrations with his arguments around this subject) “take culture”. That is, he does what he wants, without asking for permission or telling people he wants to do it, and he expects other people to communicate that they don’t like that action.
Remember how he argues with people who have issues with what he wants? Well, imagine the result. A man who does what he wants and asks for communication about why you don’t like that, but since he will argue you into the floor if you do, most people simply don’t say anything. That is the epitome of boorish, obnoxious, bullying behavior, and Wes did it all the time when we were around. I doubt he’s changed, but I could be wrong.
There are so many other stories, examples, and concerns I could lay out. There are many more pages I could write, but it would start to be redundant and tedious. For now, let’s wrap up.
Wes has been very open with his criticism, evaluation, and caricature of me as a person. I’ve heard stories, through friends that maybe Wes doesn’t know I still have, that he and Gina talk openly about how I’m emotionally abusive, untrustworthy, and a liar. They have had no compunction about speaking this way to and around friends of mine, and many people have found this behavior to be immature and beyond the pale. I have mixed feelings, but in general I don’t have a problem with calling out abuse (hence why this exists).
Gina is obviously very angry with me, and she refers to me as her abuser. Wes obviously dislikes me very strongly, but he did long before any of that. I imagine that Jessie has negative feelings towards me as well. Ginny and I are also extremely angry and hurt by them, but specifically Wes. I have become angry at Gina after reflecting upon how long it took her to stand up for me at all, and how little she seemed to notice or care in the face of Wes mistreating Ginny or I, as well as many other people the vast majority of the time. In the end, Gina has been an enabler for Wes’ misbehavior and seems not to see most of it. Gina may be one of the only people that Wes would listen to concerning his abusive behavior and rationalizations, and unfortunately she is almost completely blind to these flaws most of the time. Perhaps some people don’t see them as flaws; easy for them to say when he hasn’t been abusive to them.
Not so much anger at Jessie, actually. I have almost nothing negative I could say about her, in all this. She’s easily the least responsible for the worst of this fallout, as far as I’m concerned.
The rift between our families is vast, and probably settling into a long-term encampment where we will not talk to each other, but we’ll continue to spin our narratives in isolation. Tribalism wins out, in the end. It’s not my preference, but frankly I don’t know what else to do. We tried to open up communication after we moved out, and Wes dropped a grenade of demonization of me in the middle of the floor then sat off to the side with an arrogant smirk while the relationship imploded. We were pushed out of his bubble.
Gina ended her post with a little quote which, I assume, is intended to be empowering:
“Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, I have fought my way here to the castle beyond the Goblin City to take back the child that you have stolen, for my will is as strong as yours, and my kingdom is as great. You have no power over me.”
In other words, I, Shaun, have no power over her anymore. She’s seen through me and she’s now just shaming her former abuser. However, there are two things about this quote that I feel compelled to share.
By pure accident, one of Ginny’s boyfriends quoted this exact quote to Ginny because she was going to see Wes at some social event that very evening, and she was feeling anxious. He had not seen the post, Gina’s use of this quote, or her new tattoo related to it, because it didn’t exist yet (at least not publicly). He understood that Ginny felt fear and anxiety about seeing Wes at this happy hour (she’d end up seeing Gina too), and he seemed to be saying that Ginny was strong enough to face him. Wes no longer had power over Ginny, was his point. It was a complete coincidence which when he saw Gina’s post, couldn’t help but find ironic.
Here’s the other thing; I never wanted any power over Gina. My behavior was not always healthy or loving, but I never sought power. I don’t feel comfortable in a place of power of control over people. I never wanted to manipulate, coerce, or argue anyone into the ground. I, in fact, tried hard to not be manipulative. I, obviously, failed because she felt abused.
Neither Ginny nor I are sure to what extent Wes is aware that he does wield manipulative power over people, but he does wield power over at least a few within his bubble and he does make many people feel abused outside of it, including myself. But whether he does it consciously to any degree or not, he did it very often in the time we spent around him and I’d be very surprised if he has stopped since. I actually hope he has.
Gina may have found Wes’ behavior helpful, but I find it immature, selfish, and overwhelmingly unacceptable. I don’t trust Gina’s judgment, especially about Wes, and so it is irrelevant if her memory is impeccable (it isn’t) because even a perfect memory can be formed by imperfect judgment. What I did to hurt her was not her fault, and she has right to be angry at me. What I did to hurt her was my fault. But if she insists to call it abuse, then I cannot see how Wes’ behavior is not abuse as well.
We would prefer to not use the word ‘abuse,’ however. We feel like this word should be reserved and used more carefully.
And yet I feel abused. But how I feel (and I feel traumatized, hated, mistreated, demonized, and bullied) is not always proportional with the truth. The truth is my behavior towards Gina was sometimes pretty awful and inexcusable. The truth is I hurt someone I really cared about. The truth is also that Wes hurt us, as well as many other people, and he has never (to my knowledge) taken any responsibility for, and almost no acknowledgment of, that.
But to call him an “abuser” is too final, too teleological, in my opinion. People change all the time, grow, and hopefully what was abusive behavior stops happening. So I won’t call Wes “an abuser,” but I will say that he was abusive to me in the past, and I think that he was abusive to Ginny and other people as well, sometimes. And if he ever took actual full responsibility for that, I would be willing to forgive him. I cannot speak for anyone else, of course.
And yes, Wes does have many other people who like and love him very much (and that is good! I would not ask people to stop loving or liking him). He’s even very good to many of them, most of the time. This does not excuse when he’s been terrible to people, and I will not allow our experience to go unsaid anymore.
Here’s a little haiku I wrote a while back, while processing some of this.
He, sore in the err
She, mist in angry distance
Past, one, another
The result of all of this is that a rift has developed, with some people straddling both sides and trying not to get involved. Each side of this rift has created a set of narratives, rationalizations, and blame. Gina’s account is biased, Wes’ views are also biased and the story that I am telling here, with significant help from Ginny (and yes, shes checked it for accuracy), is also subject to biases we cannot see. This account is not all true; not intentionally, mind you, but because memory is bound to emotion, self-justification, and cognitive biases. I also don’t completely trust my own judgment, at least not all the time. But I’ve tried to be balanced, fair, and honest.
Bottom line: I regret acting badly and losing Gina’s trust and love. I don’t see much reason to trust her or Wes, as they not only have acted poorly (as well have I), but their inability to see their own flawed personalities and relationship dynamics has seemingly hardened into a story about what I, Shaun McGonigal, did to make everything terrible.
We are willing to share that blame. It’s time they did the same.