Remember to Breathe…

These were the words that my therapist spoke to me as I sat, facing the computer screen, body so tense that movement no longer consumed me. I then realized that these past few months, I literally forgot what breathing felt like.

On December 17th 2020, I found out that my entire household tested positive for COVID-19 and this was probably the road that led to all hell breaking loose. It is now March 8th and we are still recovering from that painful diagnosis. My mom is still on oxygen and I have taken on the role of caregiver, our lives has completely been transformed beyond our controlled.

Breathing has become something hard to do and rest is a luxury. “Jai, remember to breathe” seems like something that I wouldn’t forget but lately it seems like with every breath, comes with a tear. These breathes and tears, hold a mutual relationship, an understanding that without each other the body cannot function. My body has forgotten how to function on its own because it has become a function for other people.

Most people who know me would say that I am one of the most empathetic and nurturing people that you may know and they are probably right. I care deeply for people (this is both a blessing and a curse), but I also have the tendency to not care deeply about myself. This is why breathing has become a task within itself.

During the earlier stages of COVID, I watched my mother’s breathing become more and more difficult to do, her oxygen levels went from 94 to 86 in a matter of seconds. This was probably one of the most scariest things, I have witnessed and I have seen and been through hell. I am grateful that my mom is recovering with so much progress, but it was in those moments where breathing seemed impossible for her, this was also the moment that the very breath in my body had left me. It was as if I was holding my breath for her and in some ways I am still holding my breathe.

“In case of an emergency, please remember to put your oxygen mask on, BEFORE you help those around you” These are often the words, any of us hear as prepare for our trips of flight. As cliche as it may sound, these words can potentially save us from our destruction. Throughout this whole process, I have been making sure that those around me are breathing, forgetting my own breath, my own tears, eventually forgetting myself. Lately, I have been finding myself holding my breath and tears, until I am alone in my bed, tears flood my pillow and breathing becomes so faint.

Have you ever been in a space where your tears and yes your breath becomes a forceful silence? It becomes a space where you are suffocating and pain becomes evident. I am in that space now and have been since the beginning of the pandemic and since becoming a n unofficial caregiver. Tonight, I officially broke down and cried realizing that I don’t have a solution, on how to choose yourself, but what I do know is that I learning deconstruct the normalcy of giving care and I choosing myself DAILY.

Black Queer Storyteller looking to heal the world through words. What is your story?