It was I suppose all wrapped up in a knot. Anxiety, the job, the refuge in wine, self-perpetuating. Things tended to provoke anxiety in me, and habituated to that mode I tended to chose the things that kept anxiety at its customary levels. There was the job of tending bar, which made me nervous, there was absence of a girlfriend, which made me nervous, that absence making me do lonely things like go to Russia House and other searches in vain. It was all cycling around me like one big stress fest. Negative emotions, the attempt to alleviate those, a kind of being out of balance in myself. The stress of knowing that I wasn't really getting anywhere in my career, no real estate to speak of, a life in flux. Chalked up to, well, the typical writing kind of a life of a writer.
So, I started seeing a therapist. A woman, even, which was helpful in and of itself, demystifying, finding kindness and calmness, of a kind not intent on frightening me or being tacitly unkind as a wearer of a feminine role. I was out of balance and stressed out, on just about all levels you can think about, in this regard, with a fair amount of negative emotions hanging over the whole subject, enough to make me wonder if I'd ever really had a girlfriend, though of course I have and they've been good to me undeniably. And again, as with everything I say, nothing written one way or another can be complete and true, by the basic Buddhist law that only clear wordless consciousness is correct as to the nature of reality. Gently talking, I began to recover, slowly, from that old damned if you do, damned if you don't sense of things, the old memory of putting yourself out there, trying to anyway, and being treated harshly, and then having softened the defenses and seen the lady protest a bit too much as the line from Shakespeare has it, I'd been too dumb or shocked to push on a bit further, watching myself retreat into my own coping mechanisms like a dumb animal (though animals are not dumb at all.) Jesus Christ, have it one way or the other, you almost want to say, not both, never knowing what to respond to. Am I crazy or am I sane?
But the anxiety would haunt me, a general form of it, making me want to hide. That's why I would go out of the house with the security blanket of a writer's notebook, to be out amongst people, far more stimulating than sitting at home, but again like Hemingway observing the Parisienne beauty at a nearby table, taking in the observation of the creature, but then looking up later and finding her departed. The thought of dating itself was almost incomprehensible, and I developed my own little pursuits, that really highlighted the lonesomeness of the human condition rather than alleviate it, as if I inhabited a place with an unreachable gap of language difference, even while knowing full well that the things we really mean are not communicated in words but rather more through presence, more through simple being, rather through subtle brain waves, almost like whales. It's a beautiful experience to find yourself communicating with a person without need of words, through sheer emotion, through things like longing, anticipating touch. Like his wife said about him, what he felt the most he said the least about, Mary about her Mr. Lincoln.
To go tend bar was a perpetuation of the confusion, another voyage out upon an unsteady sea, little to hold on to somehow.
And this is where the yoga, too, helped, helped a lot, helped one regain a kind of balance, the calm to face negative emotions and work through them and keep the gentle sense of the world. Slowly I gained, less excuse for the negative and the hiding away from it, brief spurts of facing things that led to more sustained efforts, hopeful ones, less the negative voice harping on me trying to frighten me away. My own bravery.
Tending bar is a self-perpetuating job, a cycle of negative emotions and the attempt to escape from them. Going out on a night off I could not escape from the facts of the life, the permanent tentative quality of such a job. I could remind myself I fell into the restaurant business because I really wanted to be a writer, and you can't blame me for wanting to eat. I did not particularly feel good about myself for having the job, even as I felt at times to enjoy it and its challenges, the opportunity for many friendships. You drank because you did not feel good about yourself, and that did not make me feel any better about things.