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FltCapt Renos & LtCmdr Didrik Stennes - A texture of our existence


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((USS Darwin, Deck 10, Group Counseling Room))


::In anticipation of the captain’s appointment, Didrik had cleared the furniture from the group counseling room, leaving just a few mats and pillows on the floor.  He had dimmed the lights as well, making the room seem even more empty.  By the time the captain arrived, Didrik’s eyes had already adjusted to the dark.::


Stennes:  Come on in, and have a seat.

::Renos never knew what to expect when ne had an appointment with Didrik. Did everyone get the experimental treatment or did he employ these more creative techniques because he felt ne might be somewhat resistant to traditional counseling? The atmosphere here was comfortable and relaxed and the furniture was suspicious by its absence. The counselor seemed to have gone to some trouble in preparation for this. Ne didn’t wait for an invitation and took a seat on one of the cushions, finding them reasonably comfortable to sit on.::


Renos: Good day, I see you’ve been busy.


::Didrik awkwardly sat down, his larger frame not well built for sitting cross-legged on the floor.  Didrik felt a bit clumsy when next to Renos, who appeared to descend down onto a cushion without any apparent struggle to attempt to balance.  He pushed that thought out of his mind, in a method not unlike he was about to teach the captain.::


Stennes:  Last time we spoke, we touched on the subject of fear.  I want to explore that more deeply today.  But first, let’s just focus on breathing.  Getting our bodies and minds clear and present.


::Fear. Ne wasn’t altogether fond of digging more deeply into that, especially since the latest mission had brought an uncharacteristic amount of anxiety into nir life in the aftermath. It wasn’t even as if ne regretted nir decisions but ne wondered if ne was wrong. Everyone else seemed to feel the decision ne had come to was wrong. Was nir moral compass really set so differently to everyone else’s? With some effort ne concentrated on nir breathing. Seeing that Didrik had closed his eyes ne decided to do likewise even if it felt horribly uncomfortable. A deviant J’naii could scarcely afford to close nir eyes in the presence of others. You could never tell who was going to stab you in the back the minute you weren’t looking.::


::Didrik wasn’t certain how effective a four-thousand-year-old Earth meditation technique would work on a twenty-fourth century J’naii, but decided to take his own advice and focused on his own breathing.  Hoping to lead by example, he closed his eyes, placed his palms on his knees, breathed slowly in and out, and resisted the temptation to re-open one eye to check if Renos was doing the same.::


Stennes:  Imagine your every action, your every thought, is like tossing a pebble in a lake.  Casting ripples outward beyond where you can see.  When your mind is troubled, it’s like many pebbles being thrown in all at once, creating a rough and rippled lake.


::This was not an easy exercise for nem exactly because nir mind was so busy. It was hard to get it to come away from fretting and analysing details to concentrate on another task. Slowly an image began to form in nir mind. A large lake surrounded by woodland with tall evergreen trees that hugged the mountains as far as they eye could see. Choppy, dark blue waters and a sandy beach. Ne was barefoot on the cool sand, with brown trouser legs rolled up. A pile of large pebbles by nir side. Ne kept throwing the stones in but the pile never got any smaller.::

Stennes:  But each ripple is always smaller than the one that came before it.  Eventually the ripples die down, and the lake surface is still again.  Focus on that image of stillness, and create in your own mind a lake undisturbed by the tossing of pebbles.






::Very slowly, the ripples did get smaller. Even the cool wind that whipped nir hair back seemed to still a little. A sense of calm seemed to descend over nem. Ne did not wish to speak and spoil the moment and focused on nir breathing and the imagery before nem. The lake of nir mind was a place Renos had often visited during the holidays as a child. It had been a favourite family vacation spot and ne did miss it. J’naii had a lot of beautiful countryside and as a child ne had dreamed of being a countryside ranger, of studying and caring for the woodlands, conserving the threatened species of flora and fauna. Ne had ended up in a very different line of work indeed.::


::A few minutes into the exercise, Didrik realized he’d forgotten to cue the music he’d chosen for the session.  He debated whether he should interrupt the flow of things by instructing the computer to play it, but Renos was seeming to get into the meditation exercise in all the right ways, and Didrik didn’t want the sudden jar of a music track to derail nem.::


Stennes:  Look across the lake, and notice that no matter how wide or deep the water may be, the lake can contain it.


::Didrik hoped the transition he was about to make was strong enough to hold Renos to the exercise, and not snap him out of it.  There was still so much he didn’t know about nem, and maybe this approach would be too radical or too in-one’s-face.  Hopefully, through some careful direction, he would find out, and be able to help.::


Stennes:  Now let’s look inside you.  Remember to breathe, and as you do, I want you to see the fear that lives there.  Find the place within you where that fear lives, and let it come forth.


::Didrik could feel his own body’s response to the prompt, and he found it difficult to merely facilitate the exercise without being a participant.  Didrik was no stranger to confronting his own fears, and he hoped that his experience would give him the patience and the compassion to help Renos find his.::


Stennes:  As it rises from within you, continue to breathe.  Watch it gather.  Can you see it?


Renos: Yes but it’s not clear.

::Renos stared into the now still waters of the lake. Nir reflection replaced by an inky blackness that had no particular form. Ne felt fear grip nem even without fully understanding what it was ne was frightened of. Nir palms grew sweaty and nir heart rate increased even though ne knew logically that there was no threat.::


::As quietly and unobtrusively as possible, Didrik shifted his weight on the cushion, alternating the way his legs were crossed in an attempt to prevent his foot from falling asleep.  He’d remembered from his own experiences as a patient attempting these exercises that his frame wasn’t exactly purpose built for long periods of contorted sitting.  As the thoughts rolled around in his head, he silently chastised himself for them and pushed them out of his mind, allowing his own mental lake to grow still and quiet again.::


Stennes: As it gathers, what color is it?


Renos: Mainly black, but there is some grey there, a little red too.


Stennes:  Now, just take a moment and look at the fear.  Notice the shade it takes, the shape it forms as it exists before you.  Whether it moves, or changes size.  Perhaps it takes the form of something you might recognize.


::Both Didrik the counselor and Didrik the human being were curious about how Renos perceived nir fear manifested in front of nem, but he didn’t wish to prod too deeply or force nem to explain.  As he remembered, this was an intensely personal exercise, and sometimes things were discovered that were less than desirable to admit to oneself, let alone others.::


Stennes:  Now see the fear.  Focus your mind and stare into it.  Keep looking into it, breathe, and focus until you can begin to see inside it.  All the tiny components that make up this fear, you can see them all.  You can even name them.

::The more the fear took shape the less ne wanted to see it. Dark faceless figures formed in the waters. They were familiar to nem. Ne had defeated them once, many times actually but no matter how many times ne defeated them, there were always more ready and willing to take the place of the vanquished. Ne did not recognise the figures themselves so much as what they represented. Senorn formed in the pool and members of nir own family such as nir family as well but as with the black clad hunters, ne did not fear the individual, ne feared what they could do.::

Renos: Betrayal. Loss of individuality.

::Emboldened, the counselor pushed forth to the next step of the exercise.::


Stennes:  Good.  The act of naming gives relief.  By giving something a name, you begin to control how its identity affects you.  Fear is just a texture of our existence.  And just as you stared through the mass of fear and saw inside of it, you can stare through that texture of fear, and see beyond it.


::Ne was not convinced of any of this, nevertheless ne tried. As ne tried to stare through it ne merely found the images morphing into something else. More red. This time an image of nemself formed in the pool. ::


Renos:  I’m not sure about this.


::Didrik felt his own heart rate rising and sweat appear as he continued, and he hoped that this exercise was having a positive effect on the captain.  He knew his own approach toward therapy was unconventional, but having been an unconventional case himself, he knew there was value in them.::


Stennes:  You’re outside of it now, peering in at this mere texture of existence.  


::Was Didrik going too fast? It wasn’t working. Ne was bound in a bright red straight jacket in a small cell that contained only a mattress.  Nir head had been shaved down to a number 2 and tipped back, looking towards the ceiling above with an expression of anger and anguish. It was one of many ways they stripped away your individuality in a deviant treatment unit. Ne screamed in defiance, realising in a flash as nir eyes flew open, that the sound was probably making Didrik’s ears ring. Ne at once coloured and gave him an apologetic look.::

Renos: I apologise for the outburst. It is most shameful of me.  I guess I am not as adept as humans as leaving these things behind…

::Didrik tried not to show his surprise at what had just occurred, but he was almost certainly not doing a very good job.  The relatively tranquil exercise had erupted into Renos’ outburst seemingly out of nowhere, and Didrik feared that he was paying more attention to his own performance rather than whether the captain was benefitting from it at all.


Stennes:  There is no need to feel ashamed.


::Didrik didn’t know what secrets Renos was keeping, or what had nem so troubled, but he feared he had chosen the wrong exercise.  It was clear to him that the captain was dealing with a deep, existential trauma, that had probably become so deeply a part of nem that simply trying to look through it was not the most helpful of suggestions.::


Stennes:  I think to even consider looking your fear in the eye is an act of remarkable courage.


Renos:  In my head I know this to be true but right now I do not feel it in my heart.


Stennes:  Fear of betrayal is not uncommon.  Especially if someone has experienced it in the past.  Betrayal carries with it intense emotions–guilt, embarrassment, vengefulness–the loss of trust is difficult to live with.

::Ne considered his words and his approach. It was reassuring to know that the counselor did not expect nem to suddenly put these concerns aside, like some miraculous breakthrough would make nir fears, anxieties and bad memories vanish. Like ne would transform into a well balanced, well rounded individual who’d suddenly had a mental revolution. These problems ne faced had created deep rooted rust issues that had cost nem many friendships and prevented nem from forming even more still. It led to a sense of loneliness and isolation. If ne was an island then the borders were closed and very well protected. To date only one person had managed to slip ashore and things between them were not all sunshine and smiles.::


Renos:  I’m glad you didn’t tell me I need to ‘get over it’.


Stennes:  I don’t like to use the phrase “getting over” something.  I feel like it implies something that isn’t entirely true.  Our pasts never really go away, we just get better at dealing with them.  Hopefully.


::Without a desk or a PADD and stylus to hide behind or busy his hands, Didrik himself felt vulnerable sitting across from Renos, who seemed so troubled.  Didrik didn’t know the extent of nir problems, but having lived through his own extended period of inner turmoil, which had only recently settled through disquiet and into calm, he felt for what the captain was going through inside nir own mind.::


Stennes:  Enough breakthroughs for one day, yes?  We still have some time left in this session, but I don’t want to put you through anything further if you’re not up to it.


::Was ne up to it? Part of nem wanted to press on and vanquish the foe inside. Ne wasn’t afraid of hard self-assessment and did not want to be seen as a coward for wanting to call it a day. A large part of nem did want to call it a day, to say ‘good effort’ and lie down somewhere dark and quiet, pushing away the demons back into their dark places to still nir mind again. To restore the barriers ne had spent years erecting and maintaining.::


Renos: The greater question perhaps is whether anything useful could be gained within the time that is remaining. That was an in-depth and time consuming exercise, do we have time to start over?

:: Did ne want to feel the pressing need to ‘have a breakthrough’ in whatever time remains so ne could feel ne have not wasted the counselor’s time? No.::

Stennes:  You’re right.  We can re-engage in that exercise again in the future.  If you like we can continue with a more traditional framework.  Or we can leave things here, and you can take the rest of the session to reflect privately.

Renos: I think it would be best to leave things here. Thank you for your time.

::There was a tinge of regret in nir voice for ne felt disappointed and as though no progress had been made here today. Ne had recognised nir fears and been unable to face them. Ne was spineless. A coward. Ne stood up, nir body language transmitting false pride and confidence. Ne wore a mask well, as ne always did, not wanting to admit nir true feelings to anyone.::

::Didrik hoped Renos didn’t feel like the entire session was for nought just because they uncovered some turbulence.  He admired Renos for nir openness and willingness to plunge deep into the vastness of nir own fear, his own mistrust.  Having sat for an extended period, Didrik slowly stood back up, hearing his joints crack and pop as he straightened himself.::

Stennes:  Thank you for yours, Captain.


Fleet Captain Renos - Commanding Officer, USS Darwin NCC-99312-A

* Executive Council & Captain's Council Member
* Cadet Steward

Lt Cmdr Didrik Stennes

Counselor & Second Officer

USS Darwin NCC-99312-A

Justin D238804DS0

FNS Assistant Facilitator


“Night, field of stars above us, I pick one and name it for you,

and all who are to come.”

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