When I was 13, I rode the bus to school every morning. And every morning, 5 stops after mine, a lanky kid with sharply gelled brown hair, a black sweatshirt, and grey Dickies would walk on and walk straight to the back. Once, there were no more seats in the back, and he ended up sitting by me. I was excited because…welllll, I thought he was pretty cute. We started talking that day, and from then on, every day Roger* would sit by me on the bus.
Since we got to school a little early from taking the bus, we would sit together until the bell rang…and then at lunch…and then on the bus home…and eventually we started hanging out after school. In the times we were apart from each other, we would write notes. We passed these notes, sometimes one page long and sometimes 5 pages long, to each other during passing period or right before departing for the day. We wrote about our anxieties, our relationships, parents, religion, and mostly depression. We were both morbidly depressed teenagers. When we first met, he was much more suicidal than I was, even though I was the only one in treatment. We would talk about getting old together, about the days when we knew we would finally feel good, and we knew we wanted to share that together. These notes were so special to me. I saved every single one.
Roger and I continued writing notes and being attached at the hip all through high school. We had our bumps, though. Most particularly, I remember he got into a serious relationship and was forbidden by his girlfriend to see me any more. Those were some of the worst times. Roger and I stayed friends through most of it though. Once they broke up when he was starting college, things were back to normal. But, it didn’t take long for Roger to get into a relationship again. He was rarely single. And again, with the new woman in his life, he was forbidden from seeing me any more. We sneaked meetings, just like we had in high school, but it was hard. I was angry at him for leaving me and he was dealing with all of the issues that come with a controlling relationship. He would vent about how miserable he was with her, but when I chimed in, he would turn around and defend her. This woman turned him into someone completely different than the sensitive, loyal friend I had grown up with.
Roger has been in this relationship for years now, and he and I only talk maybe twice a year at this point. It kills me inside, and if I ever met his girlfriend, it would be hard to stay neutral. She took away my best friend, and to some degree, he let it happen. But, the way I see it, he tried, but she wouldn’t allow it.
To any person there who tries to control their partner and regulate their life, fuck off. Check yourself, because it isn’t your place. Healthy relationships make room for all the people in each other’s life as connections that you can both embrace. Control, power dynamics, manipulation, lies, and threats don’t just hurt your partner, they hurt everybody who loves them too. If that isn’t the ultimate in selfishness, I don’t know what is.