((Starbase 118 - Counselor Yael’s Office))
Yael: ::a bit more softly:: I do my own amount of deflecting. That’s how I can see it so easily in others.
A finger traced the edge of one of the braces on his hands, and he looked up, but not at her.
Yael: Having an expiration date gives you a different kind of perspective on these things. You feel as if you don’t have the *time* to play games.
Except it wasn’t necessarily a game, even for those who had expiration dates. Alora knew she counted as one of those, but she also realised he was speaking from experience. She wasn’t a medical officer, but Alora wondered if she’d have access to his file. Considering her rank, probably certain things. Another sip of the chocolate brought it down to about halfway full, then she swallowed and asked, her voice still soft, gentle.
DeVeau: Why is it so hard?
Yael: It’s… a multifaceted problem. I don’t claim to have all the answers, but… I’ve been *down* the rabbit hole. I know what it’s like to never sleep, for even a moment. I’ve heard the screaming in my dreams. If *you* hear the screaming, I want to help you.
She heard the screaming. It was her own screaming. Her own crying. But it was what she didn’t hear any longer that was the true nightmare. Alora’s face, however, remained thoughtfully stoic as she pondered over what he said. She let his words rummage around for a moment, then asked another question.
DeVeau: What got you started on the process? Where did you see the most progress, and how did you know it was true progress?
She had completely derailed him, and it was possible he couldn’t get it back. He was so far down his own rabbit hole that he wasn’t sure he could pull free of it. Staying clear of one's own components was a vital skill… so they could remain clear headed about someone else’s.
Yael: I’m not sure I’m making my point very concisely. ::that had been more a musing to himself stated aloud:: I had the benefit of a relocation. A great deal of my… problems… they were specific to a location. Excising myself from that location was the best first step. ::pausing again:: I don’t get the sense it’s the same for you though?
DeVeau: What do you mean by excising yourself? :: Alora queried.:: Do you mean leaving a location because it was harmful somehow?
Yael: It is. The Embassy was… a hazardous place for me. And by excising, I mean… I left Starfleet. ::glancing at her:: Also not something I believe would be beneficial for you.
Alora nodded slowly, her expression still thoughtful as she listened to the counselor.
DeVeau:. But that was beneficial for you? Why was that?
Yael For me, it was a type of reset. There were fewer triggers, and I could focus on what I needed to do for myself. ::his amethyst eyes set on her:: All of which is why I’m not sure my experience would help you. These things… they’re not universal.
DeVeau: Maybe not universal, but hearing and walking through the experiences of others can be very beneficial. Maybe not that specific experience, but there might be others that could. What else has helped you?
Yael: ::he was thoughtful for a moment:: Breaking the cyclical, toxic behaviors that I had allowed to take root. And… not lying to myself so much.
DeVeau: What cyclical, toxic behaviours?
He smiled at her, then spoke a bit more profoundly.
Yael: The best of liars believe their own lies first. I was an expert liar, and that allowed me to put myself in a position that was… quite inhospitable. But everything that happened to me was a consequence of my own doing. I kept my defenses up so expertly for so long that nobody even knew I needed help until it was almost too late.
Another thoughtful sip was taken, another nod given as she once again mulled over what was said.
DeVeau: But did you do beyond stopping behaviours. What helped you stop them? And what helped you move forward?
The Denobulan sighed lightly as he thought on it. He was beating around the bush, and she wanted specifics. He took a breath and looked her in the eyes, prepared to make the confession she wanted.
Yael: I checked into rehab, on Earth. And when I was clean, I was admitted to a psychiatric center.
DeVeau: What kind of rehab?
Yael: Alcoholic and addict. I… didn’t discriminate. If it was available, I used it.
That was not a problem that Alora struggled with - and one she was grateful she’d never fallen into. Not that she hadn’t been tempted. Oh no, there had indeed been times.
DeVeau: What helped you to break the cycle of addiction? You’ve talked about tools. What tools did you use?
Yael: The people around me, Alora. I stopped hiding from them… there was nothing left to hide, rather, after the Embassy… they stayed on top of me, didn’t let me get away with my old lies. They didn’t let up, and eventually, somehow, I learned better ways. ::pausing:: I could *not* have done it alone. I’d have never been able to do it alone.
DeVeau: And you think that’s what I’m doing? I’ve been going to counseling for a while.
Yael: Concerning your counseling previously, it isn’t that there is anything glaringly, obviously harmful happening right this moment. But you were ordered to take on the counseling for a reason, and it appears that your previous counselors may have been… ineffective, despite their best efforts. I was concerned that the cumulative impact for you has been negligible. That it hasn’t been beneficial for you… in part, because of its classified nature, which makes it difficult to know how to help you. Or even *if* you actually need help. Which is why I’ve been rocking your boat… I don’t want you to find it’s gone on too long, and that it’s too late.
DeVeau: What evidence do you see that I need help?
Yael: ::smiling at her:: That, is a trick question. You were ordered into counseling, so clearly *someone* thought you did. I have to operate with that in mind. If I just assumed you were fine, and you weren’t…
Alora nodded slowly. He was being careful - and she couldn’t blame him.
DeVeau: That’s part of what makes you a good counselor. I was ordered into counseling, but I’ve also made a lot of progress. There are techniques I’ve learned that help me process and deal with things.
Sort of. Not really. Sometimes. Alora had her good days. Then she had her bad days. Then she had those days when it seemed like something triggered her and it just set her off the edge. Those were the times where it seemed like she couldn’t bring herself back for a while, that she wallowed in the darkness that had exploded to her life. They also hadn’t taken away the dreams, though at least those did not’ descend upon her /every/ night. Just a lot of nights.
DeVeau: But how do /you/ deal with things? When you have a day where you struggle, what do you do?
Yael: When I feel myself slipping, I…. ::he laughed very lightly::... I keep myself so busy that I don’t have time to think about it.
Which was ironic in how he was trying to challenge that instinct in her, to make her do “nothing.”
Yael: I don’t have a perfect system. There are still flaws in my approach. But I like to think I’ve tipped the scales somewhat more in my favor.
DeVeau: So you feel like you have made progress? Where do you feel like you need to improve, and how are you actively trying to improve?
Yael: Alora… ::he shook his head::... I can’t give you *all* my secrets. Just tell me, honestly. Are we on the wrong track? Am I helping you, or am I just frustrating you?
DeVeau: I’ll be honest.
Alora sat up and finished her milk, then leaned forward to rest it on the table in front of her.
DeVeau: Right now, I’m just feeling frustrated.
There it was. She was being completely honest. For once, she didn’t sugar coat it either, and he had explicitly asked her .
Yael: Okay. What can I do to make this easier for you?
DeVeau: In here? Nothing.
Alora tilted her head toward the doors behind her.
DeVeau:. Out there?Just keep being my friend. Honestly, that's what I need more than anything.
He nodded, accepting her statement as genuine. And being her friend wasn’t all that hard… so long as she wasn’t blowing up psionic glitter bombs.
Yael: Why don’t we try a change of pace “in here,” then. Let’s skip a week, give you a break from the sessions. Do something you enjoy with the time instead.
DeVeau: I always do something I enjoy.
Alora replied dryly.
Yael: We’ll pick up fresh the week after.
DeVeau: All right. We can try that.
But Alora didn’t think it was going to make any difference.
DeVeau: In the meantime, when are you going to take me back to Verriar’s?
Yael: When are you free? ::pausing:: I don’t think it’s your typical kind of place though, is it.
DeVeau: It’s not my kind of place, but I like her. Maybe we should invite her to hang out sometime. Besides, they do have a tongo table.
Yael: It’s the most fun when the Ferengi is running the table. Trying to beat *his* system is almost impossible.
DeVeau: I guess I should learn how to play before we try playing with him.
Yael: I’m sure the computer has a tutorial.
DeVeau: Well, I was kinda hoping you’d teach me.
Yael: Ah… ::smiling again::... I can do that.
Ensign Ashley Yael
Starbase 118 Ops
Lt. Cmdr. Alora DeVeau
Starbase 118 Ops