Feel The Pain


If there’s one thing I want you to know about me it’s that I’m not a sociopath. There’s a good chance I will apologize, and mean it, at least three times in this post.

One of the reasons I believe that I write about women so often is that I’m wired like one. I’ve joked in previous pieces that I’d make an outstanding lesbian. You should see my CD collection. No guy should have as much Sarah Mclachlan and Ani DiFranco. But I don’t feel I’m a woman in man’s body. That’s something physiological. If I had to be in pain once a month or give birth, I’d be even crazier than I already am.

I worry about all of you more than I consider myself. This isn’t a brag. In fact, I wish could be more of a dude and just think about football, beer, and boobies. But there’s all this empathy and guilt in the hand I was dealt. It’s frustrating.

When I started writing on Al Gore’s information superhighway, I was shocked that more women than men dug what I had to type. I’m fully aware that 80 or more percent of my readership and 90 or more percent of my commenters are female. Sometimes I wish the dudes would chime in, but then I read what I write and think, “you know, there’s little for them here.”

Living with four women is my life. It’s not just a punchline.  When I’m the only guy at a cheerleading event or go weeks without having a conversation with another man, I just shrug my shoulders and put another sentence and foot in front of another.

Therapy and pills have been really good to me the past six or so years. I’ve likely done more work on myself, psychologically, than some drugs addicts and alcoholics. I still have a long way to go. Every morning I wake up, my first thought is how I can be a better example to my wife and three daughters. This year, although not unlike any others, I’ve made a lot of mistakes that an less lucky man would have paid a heavier price. I think the gifts and/or curses of empathy and wonder that I carry have taught me a lot about the kind of man I am and want to be. The part that I’m the most proud of is that I’m my own person and not a stereotype or carbon copy of someone I know.

In the middle of wondering if my four women are taken care of and are okay with the one guy they have to put up with, I’m living with mental illness that makes everything a lot harder. The internal landmines of anxiety and depression are frightening, and not in the cool Halloween sense. I don’t think being a male with these issues is any more difficult. I mean, if I wanted to, you know, try sociopathy, and march home and tell those chicks I support with my hard-earned money to wait on me hand and foot, then things could be easier……see that wasn’t the least bit believable, was it? I couldn’t type it with a straight face. Now, I’m worried four or five of you will be offended. I’m sorry.

I was in line for a burrito earlier and two younger guys were in front me. One says to the other, “I’m low on funds. Let’s get Nora (name changed to protect the innocent. Although she looked more like a Nora than her real name) to buy us lunch.” I felt bad for Nora. She looked like a nice person and these two fools didn’t deserve their free food. I came very close to telling Nora and then floating her a ten spot for her meal and trouble. This incident tells you what my head’s like on a daily basis. I wish I was different, but no matter what happens, I’ll always feel the pain.

****blogger’s note***

One more day of voting for America’s Next Author. We’re up to 13th. Thank you so much. I need your support. http://www.ebookmall.com/author/lance-burson Please and thank you

Today’s song is from the great J Mascis and Dinosaur Jr. Here’s Feel the Pain…


45 thoughts on “Feel The Pain

  1. ..and here we are all looking so normal on the outside. Good for you. And don’t worry, we like having understanding dudes hanging around…especially the ones who can talk about Taylor Swift, Fountains of Wayne and Derek Jeter in the same sentence.

  2. There’s this one review on your America’s Next Author page that says “sounds too much like a dude” and I’m like “you didn’t read it, did you sweetie. You looked, determined that the characters were female and the author a man, and then you wrote your uninspired review.”

    Seriously, though, I wish that people wouldn’t assume men and women think so very differently. I think the dudes in line were crass and callous, and that is TOTALLY the kind of bullshit that my sister would have pulled.

  3. My husband is wired like you, though he’s still very manly in many ways. I’m wired like a guy, though I certainly still have my share of female traits. That’s why we get along so well.

    I’ve been getting an usual number of guy followers lately. But, being a girl, I don’t think I scare the girls away. Particularly since I blog fairly often about my husband’s foibles, and chicks love making fun of men. 🙂

    I’m sure statistically most “blog readers” are female – it is good to be you and appeal to the larger audience!

  4. You know I enjoy your personal posts so much, and this was no exception. I don’t have four women to care for-only a cat and a mom and a grandma at times-but I still get it and want to tell you that yes, they get it too. They might not understand what you go through, because unless you go through it you can’t, but they know that you provide security–financial, physical and emotional–and that’s huge, my friend. That’s huge.

    As for me, I wish I couldn’t relate to the mental struggles you face every day, but as you know, I’m there all too often–those places that no one can reach. However, reaching out and sharing our stories at least helps to remove the “weirdo” tag. I have issues, but that’s me.

  5. My husband was wired differently also: angst-ridden, dependent and subject to debilitating depression, a paranoid-schizophrenic. So I understand that daily struggle and applaud the way you get on with life as best you can. By writing about women you bring a unique perspective, empathy and understanding to your characters. You are what you are. You can apologize if you like but it’s not necessary. When you find your comfort zone, the rest is just details.

  6. I could have written a lot of this, but you know that already. Like 5-year-old Aimee said once, “Momma, it’s a good thing I wudn’t born a boy cuz I’d be in jail for smackin’ a bitch.” I got in trouble a lot as a kid because of my mouth. But it’s true. I’d make a fantastic gay man. Hell, even a straight man sometimes. I’ve thought a lot about the fact that I am the #1 female role model in my boys’ lives. I’ve already had both of them tell me that I am different than all the girls they know. One’s girlfriend broke up with him because he tried joking around with her the same way we clown on each other at home and she got her feelings hurt. Ouch. I’ve worried since I learned the definition of the word that I am a sociopath. I still wonder. When it comes to most people, I do not care. I have no doubt I could kill someone with a clear conscience. No doubt. I have no doubt I could do a lot of things with a clear conscience. I have, actually. And deep down in my noggin, I honestly don’t fucking care. Hearing people cry pisses me off. And weak people make me wanna punch something. But I am pretty sure it is only because I fear those things, being weak and crying, and not because I am a sociopath. The fact is, I think I care so little about most people because I care so much about the few that I love, and after I care about them with all the caring I have, there is no more caring left over for anyone else. At least I hope so. Because I don’t think they make a “mask of sanity” in my size.

  7. We don’t fit the stereotypes around here either. There’s a little bit of everything in all of us. Be thankful for your empathetic and intuitive nature. It’s a good thing even if it makes you feel crazy at times 🙂 Still rooting for you in the contest, too!

  8. Hopefully Nora is one or two more lunches away from financial independence – more burritos for her!

    I don’t think people would describe me as emotional – I’m more guy-like in that way, but I do have an awful lot of guilt and worry constantly about things being fair – and it causes me a lot of hang ups.

    And I also laughed when you mentioned strutting home and demanding to be waited on hand and foot, no disrespect!

  9. You are a good person, Lance. And I admire your honesty in expressing your life and thoughts. I really don’t think it a big deal that your protagonists are often of the female sex. I have read your work and you really get into their heads. That is what matters.

  10. Lance…you do know your female readership has just skyrocketed even more…right? Brother…feeling this one! And much respect to you for posting it…your in your face, take me as I am is an example I’m trying to follow…the fact you pull it off without offending, and with respect for your lovers and haters is to be commended. Keep working on you…and I think you’ve got a pretty great bunch of ladies who have your back. Rock on!

  11. It is a very good thing to be your own person, and to be comfortable in that role. My husband doesn’t fit all of the typical stereotypes either – I love that about him.

  12. You remind me of my husband, even though we have a son. Bless your tender, anxious heart. I am a follower now. I feel your pain and women have a lot of money, so those are good followers to have.

  13. My dad is wired just like you, and also has a wife and three daughters. His empathy, and the fact that he works extremely hard on himself psychologically have made him an incredible father and husband. While we were growing up, he was a glorious example of what it means to be a man, empathy and all, and when my sisters and I got married, all three of us searched out empathetic men, wired just a touch differently than everyone else. The way you are is something to be celebrated. Know that you are a shining example for your daughters, and they will thank you for teaching them well.

  14. I can’t think of a better person to raise three daughters (except my hubby and that’s why I’m married to him and not to you). You’re showing them that you don’t have to be a jackass just because you’ve got a wiener. And that is a crazy important lesson to learn — and it’s better if it’s learned early.

  15. I LOVE your personal posts so much, and this is exactly why.
    You are a good, honest and kind person, Lance. The world needs more people like you, and your family of girls is so super lucky to have you looking out for them.

  16. I just wrote a whole post singing the praises (well, in the end at least) of being more sensitive than cynical. The world needs more men like you not the opposite. My husband is actually a lot like you – including the emotional struggles and Sarah Mclachlan collection (we have the same running joke about his closet lesbianism). Anyway, I think this is the bane of “the feminine” – caring too much about other people and putting yourself last. It’s definitely harder, but you’re throwing out a lot of love into the world and that’s supposed to come back to you, right? I loved this post – the honest, the humor… EVERYTHING!

  17. Some writers sound male or female, you don’t sound like one in particular to me in your fiction. I think I relate to your non-fiction because you remind me of my husband. He’s always been one to be related to well by women.

    And your ability to always, always connect a song to your writing is amazing. I’m so not like that with music. I enjoy it, I usually know most of the songs you post (we seem to have similar tastes) but I could never think of a song like you do. I really admire that technique you’ve got!

  18. I always enjoy these personal posts. This one makes me reflect on how much raising boys as a single woman has changed my outlook – or at least reinforced the more masculine aspects of it. I think a lot of that shows in my blog.

    I hope Nora learns that real friends don’t have to be bought.

  19. Gina

    When you write about yourself this way, which I like, you remind me of the qualities that my son has. They are difficult for him (and others) to handle sometimes and present problems but it makes him the kind, empathetic and sensitive soul he is. It’s a beautiful thing.

  20. Empathy is a pain in the ass, isn’t it? Too bad it’s what keeps us human. I do think it must be harder for a male to deal with anxiety and depression. I know how much pressure and stigma I feel in acknowledging these issues in my life, and I can only imagine how much more difficult it must be for guys, who have been conditioned throughout life not to show any emotion at all, let alone fear or sadness.

    • it is…but after fighting it and hating for so many years, it’s time i embrace it. it’s made me a better father, husband and of course, writer. thank you

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