the stories we tell ourselves

I had a virus on my laptop. To be specific, a browser hijacker. It meant every time I logged onto Google to open any internet page (which is probably in a normal day, about 30-40 times) it reverted to a bogus homepage, pretending to be Google, in Google colours, with weird shopping button and invitation to ‘clean my Mac’ which would’ve no doubt opened the door to many more viruses.

I also had a virus, a coldy/sneezy/tired/shivery/tummy gripes thing. I felt surrounded by viruses. Infiltrated. Threatened. Cheated. I wore myself out in internet searches trying to find ways to disinfect my laptop, whilst all the time infecting it more, and getting more tired and virus-y myself. I thought if I could only clear my computer’s cyber system, it would automatically boost my own immune system.

But no.

The two viruses became symbiotically linked. Every time I thought of being infected cyber-wise, I felt a bit less well myself. The computer virus took on a large and threatening persona, being described on the phone to various people who tried to help, as ‘powerful’, ‘magnetic’,’ tenacious’ and ‘malicious’.

I didn’t take it to the store for a week, because my own virus drained all my physical energy. And worrying about the cyber virus took up all my mental energy.

I tried solving it with numerous internet forum suggestions, two experienced IT experts at a local school and 3 powerful virus detectors, and every time we failed, the virus took on a more malicious persona. And from the last of 4 consecutive Apple Support workers on the phone there were mutterings: “that’s odd, that normally works”. “Hmm, I’m not sure about Chrome; it’s not my area of expertise”. “You’d better back everything up”.

It felt a bit like preparing for a major operation, and I was mentally gearing up for a long stint as I finally took the train to the store, imagining a personal cyber disaster where all my bank details were leaking out and pornography was leaking in. I was ready if necessary to return home with a laptop stripped of all but its most basic functions, with ‘factory settings’ having been mentioned by more than one ‘expert’.

And then I arrived at the store and in less than 20 minutes a nice man called Martin went into a somewhat hidden region of the computer’s memory and removed it with one click. Just like that.

He didn’t even look very surprised. 18 minutes. Looking through everything calmly and collectedly. The Mac has a library (who knew?) He simply scrolled down, noticed something weird and removed it. He then handed the computer back to me to try out an internet search.

As I tapped on Chrome I thought “this won’t have worked, it was too easy”. But it had. Completely back to normal. My own proper Google homepage with all the familiar sites I usually search. It was like getting  a favourite cuddly toy back that you thought you’d never see again.

I think I may have been a little effusive in my thanks. I may have gushed. I may have promised never, ever to try and illegally lift a You Tube song into my iTunes library and in doing so say yes to a bogus ‘Flash-player’.

I said goodbye and thank you and wished Martin a good day. I wanted kiss him, or at least tell him about Jesus, but I restrained myself. As I walked out of the store I felt something in my brain re-arrange itself. Something to do with the facts and the stories we tell ourselves about the facts.

This was the fact: I had a virus on my computer. This was the story I told myself about the facts (in increasingly desperate chapters): a virus is a terrible thing; I am a terrible (and stupid) person; I am rubbish at technology; I will lose all my money and find dreadful things on my computer that I don’t want to see; no one can fix it; I will have to sell my Mac but that would be dishonest because I would have tell whoever bought it that it was eternally infected… etc.

The facts that happen in our lives, especially if trying and difficult, and the stories we tell ourselves about the facts, are, in my case, two almost entirely separate things. I’m a fan of stories, but the virus episode shows how stories can get out of hand inside that head of yours. I know it’s partly a personality thing; I’ve always tended to get a bit lost inside my head. And it’s not always a very objective place to be.

Needless to say, within 24 hours of my Mac recovering from its virus, I made a complete recovery from my own.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Liz Roberts says:

    Very helpful, equally as much as a counsellor helping me out of catastrophising as a default when I was in a very dark place a couple of years ago. Deal with what is actually in front of you not what you fear might be. I must remember your piece when I have the opportunity to walk alongside people pastorally – akin to your physical virus blurring straight thinking, I find myself becoming claustrophobic due to another’s needs, which in turn makes me believe I’ll never get away which in turn makes me want to run away. Not very James 2, 18!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There’s probably some way of re-thinking that claustrophobia into a boundary around you that protects you….but I’m no counsellor!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s