For the last couple of weeks I’ve felt like a doormat thanks to some social situations. Usually I can accept that because I’m a laid back nice guy I know that people will take advantage of my generosity and not return it. That’s just the human experience. My hope was to do some straight up angry skiing today to blow off some steam and leave this doormat feeling in the snow. Unfortunately, earlier this week I ended up severely pulling a muscle in my stomach so skiing is probably not the best of ideas right now (next weekend I will be turning). Not one to sit still though, I thought I would challenge myself and social convention by writing a post from a chronic patient male perspective about love, Valentines Day, and all that romance crap. Lets have some fun!
To begin with, let’s call New Year’s Eve for what it really is, Valentine’s Day light. NYE is now about the girl getting dressed up in some little black dress while their male counterpart struggles to tie their new tie while wearing some black silk shirt. There is some form of dinner, dancing, and drinking. This holiday is no longer about starting fresh, setting new goals, or starting over. For a non-chronic patient male’s it is simply an audition for Valentine’s Day and for chronic patient males like myself who are single, it is another remember that we are alone trying to fight the pain. So lets call a spade a spade, NYE is now a couple’s only holiday and quiet pretending it isn’t.
As we all know, pain is ridiculously hard to put into words. Part of the reason I think males don’t get involved with sharing about chronic issues as much as woman is because we are visually orientated creatures. Yes, it might be a stereotype but males understand things that we can touch, see, or feel externally with their hands for instance. Chronic pain is such an internal fight that we do not know what to do because we can’t see or touch it for example. This translates to love, Valentine’s Day, and all that romance crap.
Even as a single chronic patient, I love to do things that make the women in my life smile. Whether its gifts, jokes, or organizing a group rally online it is easy for me to see the results of that effort. The money, time, or energy expended means nothing to me if it makes someone else smile. It is also an awesome distraction in my own fight against chronic pain. Girls, remember this. We do such things because males need something to touch because it provides us with a safety blanket as we try to express our own feelings. Also, and I’m not joking when I say this, doing outlandish or almost elementary school type romantic things is our way of fighting against the commercialization of our feelings. Yes, we know sometimes flowers and a nice card is enough, but sometimes the grandiose production isn’t just for you, it’s for us too.
“I don’t want anything” is a scary phrase thanks to our mothers. Please don’t say that to me or any male. Depending on how damaged we are, “I don’t want anything” translates into “why don’t you like me” or “you are in so much trouble” in our simple, damaged male heads. If you truly don’t want anything, say, “lets get a pizza and a movie” or simply “let’s eat”. This takes the pressure of us and more importantly, keeps our damaged brains on low. I will go even farther and break the “guy code” and let you know that “what would you like to do for Valentine’s Day” is a question designed by guys in order to gauge how much patience you will have for our elementary school attempt at romance. It isn’t a question designed to interpret how little do we need to do in order to make you happy as many think.
As cheesy as it sounds, there is something almost romantic about the concept of a team both as romantic partner and friend. Withholding a new symptom or diagnosis from a partner or chronic friend although understandable, does not help a chronic male in a relationship I believe. Even as a fairly liberal, feminist male, I still have that primal urge to try and protect/comfort a friend. Yes, being in a relationship where both are chronic patients can be difficult under the best of health situations but the benefit of being in a relationship is that you have someone there to fight with you and to help protect you. Don’t take that away from me (males) just because you are worried about our health. Let me be that rock or distraction that you need, for no other reason than you can be a much-needed distraction for my own health situation. Guided, team discovery is much easier and in a strange way, a romantic way of living then trying to fight alone. Believe me, fighting alone is easier but not a better or even rewarding way to fight.
Finally, and I can’t stress this enough, don’t be afraid to ask out us chronic males, both in relationships and single. Obviously, when I say in relationships I mean girlfriends or wives, I’m not advocating cheating at all. For example, I’m feeling low right now thanks to my fellow humans and weak body. I’m in no mood to deal with Valentine’s Day or romance because of my current situation. However, that would change in a New York minute if a girl that I’ve been flirting with asked me out or even a girl that is a friend did something nice for me. One of the benefits of being a guy is that we thrive on momentum. Girls, the simplest acts can change a guy’s momentum quicker than you will ever know.
In the end, regardless of what any male might tell you, deep down we are all romantics at heart. We enjoy the game of romance, however most of us are just goobers when it comes to the game. Being chronic adds a layer of difficulty to the game for sure, but that does not mean the old classic or even cheesy plays in the game don’t work. Nothing is more disheartening for most males or myself than having to play the game because of some commercialization of our feelings. We want to be there for you, we enjoy being a distraction for you, and most importantly, we receive energy and momentum simply from a rewarding smile or the simplest of return gestures on your part.