Liz Travis Allen: Getting In and Out of Quarantine

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For most of us, coping with extended staying at home is new and challenging. But for some, it’s old hat. Liz Travis Allen has this Perspective.

Shelter-in-place isn’t new to me and soon, it won’t be new to you either. It’s likely that over the next two years, we will be going in and out of quarantine. The good news? It will get easier. And not just the reemerging, but also the isolating.

I’ve been self-isolating on and off for 17 years because of an autoimmune disease. When my disease intensifies, chronic pain wracks my body, and I am house-bound, often in bed. The first time, I was 23. My mother had to spoon feed me. I felt anger, grief, restlessness, boredom, anxiety. I felt robbed, unsteady, unsure. I was quarantined, but no one else was.

I had to learn how to go in and out of quarantine. Three years ago, I was house bound for the fourth time. But this time, I knew the emotions that were coming. This time, I didn’t fight them. Instead, I greeted the pain like an old friend. I let myself cry over the loss of my job, my freedoms, my old life. I let myself rage over the injustice. I let myself scream out my boredom. And something different happened: the emotions moved through. My body remembered the hard and the good and so did my soul. As I let my resistance recede, so did my pain.

Eventually, the isolation ends. I feel better, and when I venture outside the whole world feels reborn. The flowers glow, and sunshine looks like spun white gold. Small talk is novel, people in the park a delight, every step outside screams of freedom. Gratitude oozes out my pores. I marinate in bliss.


I expect the same for us, we’ll find the rhythm of quarantine. Grief, anger and anxiety will sweep through each time slightly faster and less intense. And, when we’re first let back into the world, I swear you’ll find a hug has more texture, a laugh more moving and a slow car less irksome.

I promise if, rather than fight it, we open our arms when it comes, if we feel the emotions and accept our losses, when we resurface our life will expand again, and we’ll bathe in the bliss of the “normal.”

With a Perspective, I’m Liz Travis Allen.

Liz Travis Allen is a lawyer, speaker and disability rights activist living in Oakland.