The Lion with a Cowardly Heart

Our love story didn’t have a promising beginning nor will it have a beautiful ending.

I’m a shit storyteller as you should know by now.

My name is Mace and her name is Lisa.

We met when I was 21 years old and she was 30.

I was at my prime, partying almost all night long, and she is now just winding down, looking for a lifetime partner.

I was working shifts from hell for the spawn of Satan. She was working under contract surrounded by the people who love her and appreciates her.We both left our own country; Lisa, driven away in search for greener pastures, me, dragged here kicking and screaming by my mum who feared that I would be squandering away the family fortune on wine, women, and song.I was flitting from bed to bed to bed, she was working hard to preserve a long distance relationship that was already on the rocks from the beginning.

For all intents and purposes, our world should not have even overlapped, let alone undergone an epic collision, that by the time it was over, no one was really clear on who got hit worse.

I was a young nurse, with a freshly printed license looking for work. Coming over from the Lower Mainland of Vancouver, I decided to board the 2 hour ferry ride and another 1.5 hour bus ride to Vancouver Island in hopes of not continuing my employment as a cook with my full scope nursing license sitting idle in my wallet.

2 months later, I was already working for a place that was as desperate to hire nurses, as I was desperate to obtain nursing employment I soon had another problem: housing. I was initially living with some distant relatives, 5 or 6 times related, that my mum managed to dredge from our clan’s network, but I was having a hard time choking down the comments I would have loved to hurl in their faces about how they treated their children. You see, they weren’t being abusive or shitty parents, they were just cold and unloving. I decided to skip out the first chance I got and decided to live in a hostel across the street from my workplace for the time being. Although it was quite the drain on my expenses, I figured I have at least another 6 months before I start living under a bridge.

As I was searching for a more permanent set up, I met a group of people in downtown Victoria: DIck, Hodor, and Lisa. I recognized them since they all worked at the same coffee shop near my workplace/hostel where I used to buy food all the time.

They were all working together as contract workers and they were billeted by their employer in the same apartment complex with the men and women in separate apartments. As it turns out, Dick and Hodor needed a third person to share the flat with, as their third roommate skipped out on them because they had a disagreement. This should have been a red flag for me from the start. But I recognized the third person they were talking about, and thought he was a wee bit of an asshole myself. 

I threw caution to the winds and moved in with them that very same day. I thought: The going was great for the next few months. We would all spend our days off hanging out together, sharing our meals, and just keeping homesickness at bay. I noticed that DIck in particular was very close to Lisa. They claimed that they are indeed the best of friends and look at each other as brother and sister. After cornering them both, they both admitted that they loved their own partners, Lisa and her long distance beau, Dick and his long distance wife. Both were very proud that in their original group, they were the only 2 who had remained faithful to their long distance partners without succumbing to the temptation of having an affair. They both credit it to their strong friendship and watching each other’s backs.

“Incest.” I sniggered to myself whenever they say the brothers and sisters bit, especially when I catch the way Dick was looking at Lisa. I’ve met plenty of men like Dick, the only way that society was safe from them was they were too spineless to commit into action whatever dark thought is lurking in their heads. 

As my shifts grew crazier and crazier, the less opportunity I had to hang out with Dick and Hodor. There would be stretches of days when I wouldn’t see them, and the only sight they would see of me was passed out on the living room couch still wearing my uniform down to my shoes, with my backpack still strapped to my back.

The only person who’s free time seemed to sync up consistently with mine was Lisa. She lived just next door with 2 other female co workers, but they barely come home anymore, already living in together with their boyfriends, and just use their bedrooms as a sort of storage area for their extra stuff until they can be free of their lease and move out. 

Since I am always too tired on my days off from work, I usually didn’t have enough energy left in me to go out and party and deal with the attached hangover, so I just stayed at home. Lisa and I ended up spending more and more time together, with her showing me around the city and taking me around for the usual touristy crap. I volunteered to be her guinea pig whenever she decides to cook a crazy recipe she saw from YouTube. She gratefully accepted my help caring for an autistic child she babysat and was delightfully amazed when I managed to coax a response from Nathan the first day we met. 

As we grew closer, we learned more a lot about each other. Well, being the compartmentalized, secretive asshole that I am, I learned more about her than she learned anything about me. I learned that her and her boyfriend is having a lot of problems, as usual with any long distance relationship, and she is now starting to have doubts that she will ever find someone to spend the rest of her life with.

I tried to be an honest friend to her, consoling her, listening to her problems, and trying to comfort her, in a “just-friends” capacity. I was confident that I can help her out however I want, whenever I want, without fearing for any repercussions. You see, I was still quite naive at that point. I have never been in a relationship with an older woman before and decided at that point that our age gap is safe enough to act as a natural barrier and disarm whatever emotional sparks our closeness might bring up. I was wrong. Dead wrong.

Having stayed faithful to her long distance boyfriend for as long as she did, her female co workers, all of them with their own husband and kids left at home, have always withered from what they felt were judgemental stares coming from her whenever they parade about with their extra marital affairs. They were quick to notice the growing friendship between Lisa and I and were quick to initiate rumors about how hard the mighty has fallen. DIck and Hodor were not helpful either. Jealous of Lisa’s growing attention and reliance to me, Dick especially, decided to turn the cold shoulder on her, and his passivity in the face of all the rumors hurting his “best friend’s” reputation encouraged the rest to stoke the fires hotter. 

We were brought together by chance and happenstance, yet that crisis bonded us to each other. Our friendship grew stronger by our reliance on each other during that particularly nasty storm. We leaned on each other and loaned each other strength. It was hard for her losing all her friends in one go, knowing who her friends really are, and hearing them say hurtful things about her. It was hard for me since I have never experience people who don’t know me, hating me at such a personal level, yet they don’t even know me, heck, they don’t even know my full name. Knowing that we gave them a perceived opening is enough for them to come rushing in with their sticks and torches and it was suddenly quite overwhelming for me. 

Isolated, with no one else to hang out with, we started spending more and more time with each other. Suddenly, partying and hanging out with other people doesn’t seem to matter anymore for me. And whenever she comes over with her face stained with tears from fighting with her long distance boyfriend again, it took me less and less time to cheer her up with my corny jokes. Until one day, she told me that she decided to end it with her long distance beau. 2 years of fighting on Skype is enough for her, she said. Our emotional bond turned into a physical one, as we hugged for the first time. We expressed ourselves more freely in each other’s company now. We started hugging more often too. Until a few weeks later, we shared our first kiss. And then a little while later than that, we started having sex. I was confused at the speedy way things are going, but always having had a daredevil outlook, I decided to keep riding this wave, and see where it leaves me.

The first few months felt like a fairy tale, let’s leave it at that. Life couldn’t be any happier. She moved out of her apartment and I moved out as well. I met a buddy at work and he decided to help me out instead of watch me get skewered. Being the vindictive asshole that I am, I moved all my meager belongings one morning, dumped my share of the rent on the bed, and locked the bedroom door. It took Dick and Hodor 2 weeks to figure out that I wasn’t living there anymore. We started hanging out with the rest of our few friends who remained loyal to us and the rest who stood neutral and passive came back with sheepish smiles on their faces. Even Dick made somewhat of an apology to Lisa.

Little did I know that he would harbor a grudge against me though for that one vindictive prank. The next time he saw me with Lisa, he rushed me pinned me to a wall and had a fist planted firmly in my chest. The entire sight was laughable as it was obvious that he wasn’t looking for a fight, nor even used to fighting one, but only decided to make a scene with Lisa watching. I decided to turn the tables on him. Without raising my hand, and allowing him to keep his fist on my chest, I warned him that I fight dirty. I told Dick that not only was it within my right to defend myself, but I can guarantee him that he will land in a hospital even if I employed defensive moves only. And after recovering enough to walk, the dirty part comes in when I get to have him deported, thus, ending his chance to provide a better future for his family. The blood seemed to drain from Dick’s face as he slowly backed up away from me and walked away fuming and muttering to himself. Lisa scolded me mildly after that as she was more keen on salvaging whatever friendship her and Dick had left. I only chuckled at that since she already knows about my suspicion regarding Dick and this little show only proves so, if you ask my opinion.

We decided to put that little incident behind us. However, little cracks appeared in our relationship that soon turned into fissures. I was 21 y/o, she was 30 y/o. Even though we chose to ignore it at the time, we weren’t able to bridge that gap by love alone. We were just discovering that there was a lot of gaps between us that we cannot bridge. Whatever personal crisis I am going through, she is quick to dismiss it as if listening to a child. She always said that one day, you’ll look at whatever’s bothering you and laugh at it as some tiny insignificant thing. I resented it. Whenever she has a stressful day at work, I am as quick to dismiss it, unintentionally. She works in retail, I help human lives on a daily basis. Can anything be more stressful than that? She resented it.

She was already on her way to looking for her first major financial investment, I was only starting to learn how to manage my student loans and personal finances. She was the youngest in the family, growing up with 4 boys and spoiled by her dad, used to getting whatever she wanted, right there, right now. I was the middle child, the only son in a brood of 3, my sisters already looking up to me since we were kids.We could have probably survived through all these growing gaps in our relationships, if not for 2 gaping chasms that erupted suddenly beneath our feet.

One was her impatience to have a baby. She was at that point in her life where she now starts to become conscious of that ever ticking clock, constantly reminded by posts in her newsfeed of baby showers and christenings.The only relationships that I have had prior to her was girls I meet at parties and clubs during my weekends, come home and sleep with them, and never call them back, or never have them call me back. The most serious were a couple that were quickly killed when it turned into a long distance relationship, I was only just learning how to be a decent human being in a relationship, who the fuck said that I was ready to be a father in this state and at the age of 21? She wouldn’t hear any of it though. Waking up to her under the covers warming me up with my junk in her mouth and quickly mounting me was amazing at first, but when she decided to vehemently refuse to have me wear a condom during sex, I began to have suspicions. I felt like a piece of meat. We began having fights, which grew in frequency and intensity. She started to demand “proof” of my love for her. She insisted that I pick her up from work, knowing that that is the exact time that I would be at work myself. She made a running tally of what her ex boyfriends used to do for her, to indulge her, and how I compare to them. While every guy appreciates healthy competition, this is an example of how crazy it went on the last legs of our relationship: I brought her a bouquet of flowers and then she casually mentioned that an ex brought her “blue roses”, which is now suddenly her favorite. Just to appease her, I made a list of all the specialty nurseries across the western seaboard of North America. I found one that is willing to grow blue roses for me, since there are no true blue roses made by mother nature, they have to be watered and dyed blue every day from the day they were first planted. Three months later, on her birthday, I hand her a bouquet of 3 dozen blue roses. I spent a few more bucks extra having them arranged florist who just arranged it simply with minimal decorations to put the blue roses in the spotlight. When I handed it to her along with a necklace for her birthday gift, she then decided that she is allergic to the gold in the necklace and didn’t even remark on the roses. Whenever I can’t pick her up from work because I’m at work myself, she will make sure to tell me that she phoned Dick to pick her up, or to bring her the lunch that I can’t do. Nevermind that she’s a grown ass woman who can drive her own car and make her own meals. What she was telling me was what she wants, she gets, regardless. We went through a comical routine of “breaking up”, then blocking each other on facebook, only to stalk each other through mutual friends, both online and in real time, erasing her number on my phone, but have it memorized, then make peace with each other again, only to fight and break up over something again a few weeks later.

The coup de grace, was the arrival of her long distance, ex beau. You see, prior to me arriving in her life, her boyfriend, lets call him Viserys,had already submitted an application for employment with Lisa`s employer, with Lisa giving her recommendation about him to her employer. Viserys came over at the same time that Dick’s family came here. They were literally sitting next to each other in the plane. I was already hurting so bad before  he came here, even more so when I learned that Lisa went with Dick and a few other friends, who left her when she needed them most, to pick up the arriving party at the airport. She hid this all from me and I learned it only from my younger sister, whom Lisa stalked and befriended on Facebook, when she asked me if me and Lisa broke up since there`s pictures of her with another guy in an airport. 

I didn’t know how much more of this self inflicted torture I can take. All I could think of was that, this must be what crack addicts feel like. I have never been brought down this low before and disregarded, yet I couldn`t help crawling back for the next hit. I decided that maybe, it`s time. I sent Lisa a text saying that since she decided to go meet Viserys and hide it from me, I will give them a few weeks for her to sort out who she really wants to be with. She sent me countless messages and voicemails pleading to be forgiven. We kissed, we had sex, and we made up. And then I get another heads up from my younger sister, whom I keep in the loop now, telling me that the newsfeed photo updates of Lisa being with Viserys numerous times, all supposedly while I`m at work. Again, I confronted Lisa about this, she admitted that Viserys proposed that they get back together, but reassured me that she refused him and was only showing him around town. Again, we fought, we kissed, we had sex, and we made up.

But I promised myself it will be different this time.

After seeing her off, with the taste of her mouth still wet in my lips, and my bed still warm with our coupling a few minutes ago, I started planning grand schemes on how to dump her in the most humiliating way possible to satisfy my thirst for vindication.

In the end, I simply ignored her until she went away. The playful “U up for a quickie?” texts soon turned into “Why aren’t you answering?”, to “I’m here at your place, can you let me in? We need to talk, I choose you, please believe me. I’m sorry for all those stupid tests, I still love you, and I choose you.”.

I ignored her texts, I ignored her calls, I ignored all her inquiries about me, direct or indirect, from our mutual friends. I hid away from her. Whenever I see her car parked in front of the building, I sneak out from the back. I avoided all the usual places we hung out in. 

I ignored her, and hid away from her, until she just gave up one day.

For years, I rationalized this totally weird and uncharacteristic reaction from me by telling myself that it’s all for the better, that she deserved it, that she was lying to me all along and just using me, that she was a sadistic cow and I deserve better than her, and that I made a good decision.

Looking back at it now, yes, she might indeed have been lying to me and using me all along; she did marry Viserys and bear his baby less than a year after we split up. But that wasn’t the point. What if? I don’t mean the crazy “What if” question asked by people who regret their decision. I don’t regret splitting up with her. What I regret was how I did it. Could I have handled that situation a little bit better? For someone who prided on justifying his actions to be always based on either honor or cold logic, there is nothing honorable or logical with how I decided to end our relationship. I`ve gotten so good at reading people, reading their personalities and judging their character, that I have lost sight of my own personality and character.

It took me years to understand why: I was scared. I thought I was in love with her but the love I thought I was professing wasn’t the same love she thought she was hearing. We weren’t tuned to the same frequency. And having grown sick of the endless fighting, I didn`t have any experience on how to handle situations like this the mature way. Rather than work hard to find a responsible way to handle this mess, I tucked tail and ran.

This message took me 3 years to realize, a minute to admit to myself, and 2 hours to write. This kind of clarity comes to me at a time when I needed it the most. As I make preparations to end a major chapter in my life and begin a new one, I realize that running away, consciously or subconsciously, will no longer solve my problems for me. I will now have to start making big decisions, and have to be able to live with the consequences. Will I still be making mistakes? Probably. But I need to be okay with it right here, right now, without hiding behind half baked rationalizations and excuses, and wake up 3 years later thinking: “Oh my God, how could I fuck that one up so bad and fail to see it, then deny and rationalize it?”.

This post might be the result of typing whatever comes into my mind while half awake, but what I do know for sure is either I should start living the principles I learned the hard and costly way, or get rid of all the mirrors in my house lest I have to look at my face again in shame.