When I was radioactive and in isolation, I spent a lot of time meditating on shame, fear, healing, and the power of touch, the power of hope, the power of being restored. Here’s what I concluded.
It is a strange and unsettling thing being a danger to society.
I went for a walk and swooped to avoid a woman walking her dog. I crossed the street when a man came toward me, pushing his toddler on a tricycle. The little girl waved and said, “Hi!” and I stepped even further away. I walked down the center of streets, to keep my body as far from animals as possible.
I felt like I should have shouted, “Unclean! Unclean!”
I had every right to go outside. I’d specifically asked my doctor if it’d be okay and she said yes, then backed away from me in the hospital room to demonstrate how far I would have to be from people and pets — a good eight feet.
What if I slipped and hit my head and people came to help? What if a dog chased me? What if a school bus dropped off a student, and I didn’t get away quickly enough? What if I saw someone I knew and had to ignore or rebuff them?
At home, I lurked in the basement. My mom delivered food but couldn’t stop and chat. I didn’t want her to stay long in the basement air or near my physical space.
I was unclean…
Read the rest of the essay at (in)courage
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