NORMA JEAN: Om, Om on the Range

[Ed Note: Artwork must accompany column. Designed to your specifications at no cost by Missy Neal, Art Director. Call 505-268-8111.]Today I sit in my old bedroom, far off on the humid, densely populated, intensely green east coast of America. A computer rests where my first lighted makeup mirror once stood; my folks sit when they used to stand; my son soaks up the adoration and love that were once all mine. A visit home is no easy matter; it's always full of mixed emotions, introspection, and oddly...pain.Being "home" is spooky -- so much unpleasant childish behavior suddenly erupts out of the "muck" of me, like a crusty old hand reaching at me from its grave. "Aghhh, get me out of here," is usually my first instinct when my buttons begin to get pushed. The safety of my newest "scene" temporarily out of sight, I feel uncovered, scared and all too familiar with my issues. Family has a way of cutting through the safety of redefinitions, whether everyone agrees to call you by your "new age name" or not. A mom can say something that a friend may think is totally neutral, but you know she is doing "that thing again" and the cells pull back in defense.Today I attended an intensely unglamorous group therapy session in the heart of Paterson, New Jersey. I had a ring side seat at the human circus of drug addicts who invent reasons to lose, trying, like us, to feel better, vacillating between grandiosity and despair. The lies and ignorance were so thick they filled the air like a noxious gas. I saw myself, my friends and the more clever upper-middle classes there disguised as these dope addicts. I saw a lot of lonely people, unable to love, unable to face life "as it is"--which is not Pretty Woman or The Story of O, for that matter. And I seriously doubt that life's secret meaning is trapped inside a crystal, either.Intimacy is difficult. It takes guts to be intimate with someone. It isn't all flattery and feel-good. It's so easy to socially pose as something else, to negate all of your background, run rackets, spin tiny lies, invent a history to explain away behavior or illness --e specially when no one is really looking, or cares. America is filled with people reinventing themselves, healing themselves, attending empowerment workshops, sweat lodges and a myriad of assorted EE rides to feel better.Many of us live alone, drive alone, eat alone, raise children alone, hike alone, masturbate alone and even answer personals from the corner of a big empty couch, hoping that maybe there is someone out there to share these pleasant pursuits...We're all in this together. Let's get real about our conditions in this country, within our families and around the globe. Dr. Feelgood might find himself out of a job if everyone took real responsibility for their lives, their aloneness, their pains, and their oh-so-insidious addictions -- however subtle and socially acceptable they may appear.

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