The blue screen of death, the universal sign of a system failure, strikes a particular chord with me. It takes me back to my own internal system crashes, those of belief, expectations, and self-identity. There were times when I felt like a computer crashing, overwhelmed by demands and tasks that I simply couldn’t process or fulfill. This blue screen of emotion was something I was familiar with. It signified a state of my well being.
Growing up in a high-control environment, I was often seen more for my function than as an individual. My value was tied to my performance, to how well I adhered to the expectations and roles laid out for me. I was expected to operate smoothly, to comply without question, to be a cog in a larger machine. When I couldn’t meet these demands, when I “malfunctioned” because I was trying to be something I wasn’t, it was like hitting an internal blue screen of death.
The frustration wasn’t just my own. It spilled over from the people around me, those who couldn’t understand why I couldn’t just ‘reboot’ and run the program as expected. Their impatience was a dangerous force, it was a pressure that compounded the sense of isolation and failure.
I still have that blue screen of death pop up from time to time.
What happens in that blue screen of death in my mind? Chaos, that’s what. My brain tells me that a situation is not sustainable, it activates rapid coding of a need for emergency response, it tells me that there is imminent danger and threats to me that I have no way of navigating. It’s a system failure that bypasses fight, flight, freeze, and fawn responses.
When my internal blue screen of death pops up, I simply want to turn off the computer permanently. That’s a scary realization when we think of what that means for a person rather than a computer.
The blue screen represents a total shutdown of my internal code. It acts as a self destruct mode when there is no apparent escape. Except when I do face the blue screen, I do actually have a choice and an escape.
Here’s the thing about the programming of humans, life can be rebooted, and sometimes, it needs to be. Sometimes, the only way to fix the problem is to start fresh, to build something new that doesn’t crash under the weight of old code and outdated operations. That’s what I had to do. I had to leave the system that was never really designed for me, to stop being a computer malfunctioning under others’ commands, and start being Matt, a person with his own will and desires, ready to write a new code for his life.