The term Malware stands for MALicious softWARE, or any software used to disrupt computer operations, gather sensitive information, access private computer systems, or display unwanted advertising (Wikipedia).
Simply put, it’s a computer virus.
Those close to me know that writing has always been my passion and, really, a form of therapy. It’s the way I process thoughts and communicate my interpretations of the world. So, when a scary screen-sized warning message prevented access to my blog site this year, I did everything possible to find a computer doctor to patch up the problem.
While malware tried taking over one of my favorite hobbies, it was also symbolic. I, too, had discovered my own kind of malware this year. In May, I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes – an autoimmune disease that had run my body so close to the ground it seemed picking my head off a pillow was an unbearable task. By the time I saw a doctor, I had apparently been so close to a diabetic coma that the clinicians considered me lucky to have not landed unconscious in a hospital.
I’ll get into the nitty gritty of my new friend, diabetes, in another post. My goal now is to share how this malware infection of my body has led to my next life steps…steps my fellow Bonaventure alumni may call my next “Good Journey.”
When you’re living alone in NYC, a place where going unseen for days is often considered normal, a doctor looking you straight in the face and saying “you’re lucky to have woken up today”… Well, yea. I woke up, alright.
I don’t remember this summer. Literally, I have little recollection of my existence with exception to a few keys events. My blood sugar levels were so unstable that I had virtually no memory, energy, or focus. I would lose my train of thought so frequently that my clients would routinely stop MY counseling sessions and ask if I was okay. I’m a mental health and substance abuse therapist, by the way. You know… like, I was the one conducting sessions.
I appeared awake and functioning to others, but felt barely alive. I had become a dull pencil tip, shuffling through my daily routine while observing reality through a cloud of unsharpened lead.
Over Labor Day weekend, I visited our family cottage in Upstate New York. Everything was perfect – the weather, the water, the solitude. Even my sugar levels seemed more regulated. Yet, I spent my first night there tossing and turning, my mind racing to understand one thought: What was I doing?
It suddenly became so clear that my body needed a break. And, not one of those lame “American” breaks where I’d stay home one night, or spend a long weekend catching up on errands. I needed legitimate time to heal, process and regroup. By this point, I had learned discipline around limiting my food intake and administering insulin. But daily stress? It had started consuming so much of my lifestyle that carrying it felt…normal. Normal, that is, until my body put its foot down, threw up a middle finger and said “Not today. Not ever again.”
The diabetes became a catalyst for me – the trigger to a life shift. It’s what made me remember that I live in one of the most expensive cities in the world with a mountain of private school loans working in social services with one of the “toughest” populations while carrying on my back years of piled up personal “stuff” that I’ve just “dealt with” because I convinced myself “I can” and would “be fine.”
I’m stressed just typing that. And, sadly, I’m not the only one in our society carrying around that much weight.
Within a week after Labor Day, I had resigned from work, subletted my apartment, and received a showering of encouragement from friends, family and doctors to move forward with this unofficial medical leave. It seemed that my stepping out of a cloudy reality and into the stressful peace of Upstate solitude brought me one simple reminder: Without my health, I legitimately have nothing.
So, I will set out to find a new normal. The old normal just isn’t working for me anymore.
To fix my malware-infected website, a security specialist had to identify the infected areas, scrape them away and help me implement new, preventive measures to maintain its healthy future. The site’s content was still there; it just needed to be found and polished. And, in the end, it gave me a chance to give this ol’ blog the makeover it has needed for years.
That’s what I’m on a venture to do for myself: identify my infected areas. Scrape them away. Polish up. And reboot.
I have only a template of a plan. I’m keeping it that way on purpose. What I do know is that my coming months will include refilling health into my body and soul.
I’m off to my next Good Journey. It’ll start with a step and end in a place unknown. Since the unknown is where we find ourselves, the unknown is where I’ll head.
Live by ladybugs