Jack White has "completely sacrificed" himself for his work.
The 42-year-old singer - who has children Scarlet, 11, and Hank, 10, with ex-wife Karen Elson - admitted his passion for his career means he can "never go back" to the way his life used to be and even when he has time off with his family, it doesn't feel real.
Asked what he's sacrificed for his career, he said: "Everything. Everything. You have to completely sacrifice everything about yourself to art.
"If you really care, you realise you never get to go home again. It's a sad thing.
"You can go back and visit and wave to it, but you can never go home. That brings me to tears at times.
"Even if those moments of taking the children to school, it still seems like I'm playing house or it's a holiday from what I'm supposed to be doing."
And the 'Lazaretto' singer admitted he puts up a front when speaking in public because he doesn't want the things that matter to him to get "destroyed".
He told Q magazine: "If you put out the things that mean the most to you, people will tear them apart.
"When I do music or interviews I can only give you a sanitised version of what really drives me and what I really love.
"I can't give you the real things because they could get walked all over and they're too precious to me.
"It's a shame because I see other artists that are able to tell you everything that's on their mind whereas I'm spending a lot of time protecting the things I love from getting destroyed. It's stupid but I don't know what else to do."