Life Stories

As I Take the Train 

As I Take the train I think of my friend, B. Let’s see if this story makes sense. I apologize in advance if it doesn’t. B was the girlfriend of my then-boyfriend’s best friend,  F. We didn’t have anything in common other than our gender, but we got along well. After all, her boyfriend and my boyfriend were friends. There’s a kind of sisterhood that’s born out of that kind of relationship.

I think that everyone has a friend you grew up with you compare yourself and feel inferior to. F and my boyfriend at the time (who we’ll call R to make things easier) had that kind of friendship. F was the womanizer, and R considered himself the hopeless nerd. It was made clear to me from the start that my relationship with R was not on the same level as F and R’s friendship. Bros before hoes, right? It’s hard to think of yourself as the “ho”in that equation. Especially if your significant other is the most important person in your life. I knew I would never be as special to him as he was for me.

F was R’s guide to the world of relationships, since he always showed off how easily he could pick up women. I understood that to be able to have a good relationship with R, I had to be on good terms with F.

F was not exactly good looking, but he was charismatic. He believed that women existed to serve men, and that a man should only consider marrying a virgin. He also thought that a woman’s ultimate worth came from the way she looked. R said he didn’t take F seriously, but he’d still take some dating advice from him.

I weighed 46 kilos at the time, and I still felt overweight. R would emphasize that “I didn’t look too bad, but there was a lot of room for improvement”. I wanted to weigh 40 kilos. Soon enough I found myself going hungry so I could get R and F’s approval. One time F came to visit and demanded I “do a twirl” and then congratulated R, because I had become “fine indeed”. B would sometimes be there, quietly staring as F complimented my appearance.

B and I had a somewhat good relationship, but I could never be honest with her. I wanted to. I wanted to tell her to run away and forget all about F. Tell her she was in an abusive relationship… But I was afraid that if I did that, it would be the end of me and R. If I ruined his friend’s relationship, F could convince him to find someone else. He was more important than me. In the end, hadn’t I moved to a different country for R? Hadn’t I forsaken a future of stability and my own family to be with him? Would I be worth anything without him? I kept quiet.

I kept quiet when I heard F say that B was worthless because she was not a virgin anymore, even though he was the one who took her virginity. I kept quiet when I heard him tell her she was not allowed to go outside without him. Going out to the fair with her girl friends was considered high treason. I kept quiet when he said she was a stupid whore because she’d had a boyfriend before him. I kept quiet when he started stalking another woman.

B would be locked home and F would be hanging out with us. As we headed out, F would say “I’ll drive you home, don’t worry”. Once in the car, he’d say he just needed to make a detour and would drive to this woman’s place and stare at the light of her apartment for hours. “I know she’s not a virgin, but I want her… I wouldn’t marry her of course,” F would say. It would make me feel uncomfortable. It happened several times. R would agree with me that it was uncomfortable, but he wouldn’t say anything about it. If I tried saying I wouldn’t go home with F, R would say it was just so much easier to go with him. They were friends, guy friends just need to be there for each other that way.

F was not someone to keep that kind of thing secret. B knew something was up. She’d ask me for advice “I just want him to look at me,” she’d say, and I felt like the worst friend on the planet. At one point F broke up with her. He told her the woman he wanted had given him the go ahead to have a fling, and that he’d come back to her. He said “I know you’ll take me back even if I cheat, because that’s how you’ll prove you love me”. I broke… I told her to forget about him. She took him back. I was so angry at her. I should have been angry at him, she was just a victim with Stockholm syndrome, but I got angry at her.

I guess what goes around comes around, though. I paid the price for being such a coward and such a bad friend. I moved back to Europe. I hoped I could take R with me, for a future here together. But… Bros before hoes, right? F said “he’ll never come to you. What do you think you are? You’re just a woman. You are the one who needs to give in to him”. He said R was comfortable where he was. It was my duty to give everything up for my man. I believed… I stupidly believed that I meant more to him.

“I’m sorry, Mami,” R said, “if I go there my mother will just be devastated. You just have to come back here”.

I had forsaken so much, my pride didn’t let me go back… But I couldn’t leave him. I stayed. I stayed for far longer than I should have.

The last time I saw F, he’d broken up with B. He was dating a girl eight (8)  years younger than him. She wasn’t even legally old enough for that kind of relationship. She’d been a virgin when he first took her. B still called him every week, asking for him to take her back, he said. Her phone number was different, though so I could never talk to her again.

I’m sorry B. I’m sorry I didn’t do more. I hope I’ve changed now.

I’d like to be the kind of person you could rely on. I can’t turn back time, but I promise you that I will help any woman in the same position as you were back then. I’ve learned my lesson. I’m sorry I learned it far too late.