So, what did I do? Did I try to work through the panic, let it just roll over me and know that it wouldn’t last forever? No I did not. Did I tell my friends and loved ones and ask for help? No I did not. I had dug myself into a deep dark pit. When I moved in with Dan in the back of his Venice Beach head shop I was running from having to live my own life, make my own decisions. Of course I didn’t really know that at the time, that realization took years to slowly dawn on me. I just moved in with him, I helped watch the store while he was out making deliveries of merchandise to dozens of other head shops. He paid for everything, I never went anywhere without him so I didn’t need money. People came to me all day, every day, came to the shop and bought things or just hung out. I didn’t so much have my own friends as I had people who were attracted to me because of my association with Dan, and how weird he was. A real oddity. Me, not so much. My car had been vandalized soon after moving in with him and he’d had it towed away for scrap. My parents and brother and sister had moved 500 miles away and once when I called my mother to tell her my woes, she told me my sister was going through a hard time and talking to her about it and she didn’t have the energy to listen to me if I had any troubles. So, no car, no money, and nobody who could help, nobody. Dan couldn’t help me because while he was upset I didn’t go places with him, he also knew I wouldn’t leave him for someone younger.
My world shrank. Everything closed in around me to make a hermetic seal. It was an interesting world in some ways. Right outside my front door was the boardwalk and right past that the sand and beach volleyball courts. Several times we were approached by production companies and were paid to let them film at our store. The Rookies, The Rockford Files, Police Woman, I can’t remember them all. Also some of our customers were actors, producers, musicians. People whose names I won’t mention. There was always something going on, life was a carnival that I watched from inside my front door. I saw the roller skaters, the man who walked around with a huge snake wrapped around his shoulders, Jay the bubble man who wore paint spattered clothes and made giant bubbles with a wand. They were my entertainment.
Once I sat on a bench ten feet from the door and had a severe panic attack and had to run inside to safety. It became a fact that I was trapped.
When the store closed for the evening there was television, books. We had no kitchen so Dan would bring home food every night. I went nowhere, nowhere. My range was about 50 feet from my house at the worst of it. Some times I could visit the little businesses close by; the pizza-by-the-slice stand, the bathing suit shop, the soft ice cream stand, the tiny grocery store, the volleyball courts. I got to know the owners and workers at these. I couldn’t be in public for fear I would have an attack and not be able to get to safety. Once the fog was so thick that nobody could see me and I walked a long ways along the ocean. I was okay if nobody knew I was there, if nobody could see me. That was about it. I was terrified of getting sick, of Dan not coming home, of anything that would make me have to leave my safe area, of anyone knowing. And this went on for a long time, years.