Can you help?
Shore Leave - An Internal Affair
Location: Counselor's office
It was time. And for the first time in her living memory, she actually felt a sense of dread. Always one to jump in to anything with confidence, except this. As such the massive wolven woman hesitated, before closing her eyes, taking a deep breath and pressing the door chime.
Aryen became aware of the unusual presence of a Sirran and stepped out her office just as her receptionist opened the door. With a nod the counselor let her know that it was okay and she would take care of it.
"Welcome Ms Vossiborn," Aryen said. There was only one Sirran diplomat on board, and she made a mental note of it when she familiarized herself with the personnel's files. "I suspect you are here to see me," she asked friendly, trying to get a sense of the young woman.
Young only relatively. In years Dina had Aryen beat, though perhaps in percentage of expected life span, not so much. "Yeah. Uhm - sorry. Dina Vossiborn. Hi." she offered a large and powerful right hand in greet, her left arm in a sling and shoulder bandaged. "Thank you for seeing me, Lieutenant. I - uhm ... Well, I was down there."
"That says it all," Aryen said with empathy taking the hand with both hers. She took the proffered hand with both hers. "Aryen," she introduced herself. "Come inside, and take a seat anywhere," she added as they stepped inside.
"Thank you." Dina said, quietly. She stepped inside, and chose the chair that looked the sturdiest to rest her heavy frame on. "I hear them, when I try to sleep." she spoke when they were settled. "See them when I close my eyes."
Aryen nodded. "This is to be expected after you experienced what happened down there," she said gently. "Explain to me what you feel when you have those flashbacks?" she asked. PTSD was associated with flashbacks, but one symptom was not enough for a positive diagnoses.
"Anger. Helplessness. Guilt." Dina spoke quietly, leaning back with a wince. "I feel small."
Aryen couldn't prevent her eyes from moistening at hearing how the events on the planet affected the large and powerful Sirran. It sounds as if could develop to PTSD, but the symptoms had to be present for a month at least. "This is not easy for you, talking about this, coming here. I respect that. But it also shows me how determined you are. And that is going to help you.." she said quietly. "Bear with me, okay? Where do you feel those feelings in your body?"
"Here." Dina brought her right hand to her chest, resting it over her heart. "My chest tightens up. Sometimes I feel sick, like I want to throw up." Beat. "It's ... Yeah, I'm determined. This is - ... Everything about this is fucked up. I used a heavy weapon on civilians, that acted outside of their control. But I'm a Sirran. We're not quitters. And I'm not going to give up, either. I just - ... "
She heaved a deep sigh, closing her eyes for a moment before opening them again. "This is just something I need to work through. But I don't know how. I don't know where to start. I need to learn to accept what happened, and forgive myself. But I don't know how."
"We will get to forgiving yourself, that is very important. We are going to work it from different angles. For the flashbacks we are going to use a 'first aid' technique, so that you can deal with the strong feelings and memories in the moment. Then we are going to deal with your thought and emotional process and then getting to acceptance and forgiveness of yourself. We will need a few sessions for this. Does that sound okay to you?"
Dina just gave a silent nod.
"For the first aid, we are going to create a 'safe place' for you first. Please sit comfortably, close your eyes and focus on breathing nice and deeply, in and out, feeling tension leaving your body with every breath." Ayren proceeded for a few minutes to let Dina relax, watching her facial muscles and ears for signs that she was unwinding.
Dina did as asked. She shifted a bit to make more comfortable, closing her eyes and concentrating on her breathing. Deep, slow breaths. Massive chest slowly rising and falling with each one.
"Now think back of a place, it can be anywhere, where you felt completely safe and in control. Where you felt calm and happy. If you can't recall a place, then make one. As long as you feel totally calm, happy and in control. When you do, tell me about it," Aryen said.
Dina was silent for a few moments longer before speaking, her warm and full voice soft, her words slow. "I am twelve. I wake up, the sun shining through the window. My pet vailar curled up against my leg. First time she did that. She was a rescue and took a long time to trust people. But from that day onward, she'd always do that."
Aryen smiled softly. "That sounds like a beautiful picture," she said. "Add as much detail as you like, so you can remember it well. What you smelled, felt, clothes you wore, everything. And you can do as you go on. Now repeat after me: I feel in control here...... I am safe and happy......No one can hurt me here.....and I can hurt no one......This my safe place.... " Aryen instructed gently allowing Dina to absorb her mental environment for a few moments.
Dina took a very, almost impossibly deep breath, exhaling it again slowly, centering herself. "I feel in control here. I am safe and happy. No one can hurt me here. And I can hurt no one. This is my safe place."
"That will serve as your safe place which you can use any time you have a sudden memory intruding. Step one, close your eyes if you can, step 2, focus on where you feel the emotion in your body and tell yourself it's only an emotion or feeling, step, breathe slowly in and out and step 4, go to your safe place. Step 5, repeat what you just said. It takes practice, but it may stop the intrusive memories until such time they fade, which is what we hope for. "
The large woman opened her eyes again, looking at Aryen. "It feels - ... A bit silly, all this 'This is my safe place' stuff. But I will try. I think I'll also go back to doing those yoga exercises I used to do when I was younger. Maybe that will help focus me as well." she gave a nod.
Aryen smiled in agreement. "That is a great idea and yes do that and anything else that worked for you before. It is very important," she added. "I know this safe place technique is strange. However, it gives your mind something different to do in that moment, especially because this is new to you. It's like first aid, it is quick, only a few minutes and you can do it anywhere. You don't always have to say anything, even thinking those words focus your mind away from the memories. Let me know how it goes when you try it, if it doesn't work, it doesn't, " Aryen said. "I have not worked with a Sirran, and we don't know each other yet. Tell me a bit about yourself here on the ship. Do you have a special l person in your life, close friends?"
"Nobody special. As for close friends - there are a few I might consider friends, yes. But close? I've only been onboard for a few weeks, haven't really had the time to bond with anyone just yet." Dina mused. "As for myself - I grew up a city girl. Always wanted to make a name for myself, be part of something bigger. Growing up in a city is very anonymous. I never liked that. So when I got the chance to apprentice to a well known and well respected Silvertail, I jumped at the opportunity."
Aryen looked at her quizzically. "A Silvertail? I apologise, please explain. I am, afraid I don't know much about Sirrans."
"Silvertail is a respectful term of affection for respected elder Sirran." Dina explained. "Elders are highly respected among my people. The wisdom of age is held in enormously high regard. And an Elder that's famous for accomplishing a great many things? Doubly so. Silvertail Garran Silvaborn is a well known figure among my people. The first Sirran to join Starfleet, ambassador to our people in his twilight years, he very recently retired. The opportunity to apprentice under him was an opportunity I could not say no to."
"It sounds like he had a great influence on your life and career," Aryen said with admiration. "Do you still have contact with him?"
A nod. "We do keep in touch, though I suspect that'll lessen now that he's retired from Starfleet. The old man's pushing a hundred and fifty and has seen so much. He deserves his peace and quiet in his twilight years." she smiled softly.
"It sounds like he certainly does," Aryen answered quietly. "You know, the reason I asked you about close relationships was because I would like to know what kind of support you have in terms of family, friends, or mentors? The kind of people you can connect with and by just hearing their voice brings comfort even if they have no idea what happened. Do you have people like that? Apart from Silvertail Garran Silvaborn?"
"I do. My family is on Sirrah. Mother, father, grandmother, sister and her children." Dina offered a soft smile. "I keep in touch with them on the regular." Her smile faltered a bit. "Though I haven't since Everbright. Not quite sure how to ... Tell them, about what happened."
Aryen smiled relieved. "My dear Dina, I can understand that you don't want to burden them with those atrocities. No one else should need to bear that... Thing is, they don't need to know that, and I am not sure that we should even talk about it to our family and friends. But just connecting with them may help you. Let them talk, let their stories remind you of love and peace and the good things that are still out there. If they ask about why you are so quiet, maybe tell them the truth, that you miss them, that you wish you could spend time with them...." she suggested, her voice full of the empathy she felt for her.
Dina gave a nod. "Thanks. That's ... an idea. I'll think about it." another deep sigh. "Though, thinking about things is all I'm doing since I got back. I can't even properly work out all my frustrations. I'm itching to work up a good sweat and sore muscles."
"That was going to be my next suggestion," Aryen said with a wide smile. "There is a reason why we call emotions feelings, because they are stored in the body. And one way to actually deal with them is to channel that built up energy is through physical activity. So yes, go do a good challenging workout as soon as possible."
"That's just it, though. I can't do a good, intense full body workout until my shoulder is doing better, and that's going to be a while." Dina harumphed, she obviously wasn't happy about the whole situation to put it mildly.
"I am sorry to hear that," Aryen said. "What happened?"
"Got hit by a disruptor. Wrecked my shoulder. Spent hours in surgery getting the shoulder put back together. I'll probably have normal use again, but not full feeling. And it won't look pretty, unless I have follow-up cosmetic surgery." Dina explained.
"Ouch," Aryen said. "That is amazing that you are alive, few people escape that devastating power!" she said with a shiver. "At least you would be able to do yoga as you mentioned earlier," she said. "Is there anything else you would like us to address right now?"
"I only survived because I'm Sirran. Anyone significantly smaller than me, that shot would've ruptured important organs." Dina sighed, shaking her head. "No, I don't think I have anything pressing to talk about."
Aryen nodded. "Okay," she smiled. "I enjoyed getting to know you a little, even if it wasn't under the best circumstances. Please let me know whether or not the technique works with the memories when you want to sleep. And then we will see each other again when we are going to work on forgiving yourself. Talk to your family when you can, do your yoga as far as you can with that shoulder and keep me informed about how it is going," Aryen said as she got up.
As Aryen got up Dina did as well, offering a tired and half hearted smile that didn't extend to her eyes. She extended her massive hand and gave a nod. "I will, thank you." she sighed, shoulders slumping a bit. "I just want a good night's sleep."
"That is very important. Why don't we go to sickbay now, and ask they doc to give you something for a few nights, just so your body and mind can rest," Aryen suggested concerned.
Dina flicked an ear. "Alright, sounds good."
"Good, so let's get you to sleep," Aryen said lightly, hooking her arm gently thought the powerful wolven's and made their way to sickbay. "Dina, you are going to get through this..." she encouraged as they stepped into sickbay.
Lieutenant Aryen Colan
PO 2nd Class Dina Vossiblrn
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