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Where Do I Go From Here? Part 2

Posted on Wed Apr 3rd, 2024 @ 10:18am by Lieutenant Tate Sullivan Ph.D. & 1st Lieutenant Joshua Young [Taylor]

Mission: MISSION 0 - History Speaks
Location: Tate Sullivan's Office, Counseling Department, USS Elysium
1147 words - 2.3 OF Standard Post Measure

It was never easy eliciting pain from others, but Tate understood it was necessary for healing. She had already had some idea of what Josh was avoiding, but she knew she had to gently push to get him to open up and not continue to pretend everything was ultimately OK or at least not that bad. "I know what I'm about to say is not going to give you any comfort, immediately or otherwise, but it is the truth. You're doing exactly what you need to do to move through this loss. You're acknowledging it and opening up about it. I wish emotional things like this could be healed as easily as many physical ailments of today, but the truth is, just like the old days, grief is a challenge one must move through over Time because there is no quick fix. What we can focus on is making sure you're taking care of yourself in the process and maintaining connections with the people and things that give you even momentary relief."

Josh sat motionless as Tate spoke. When she had finished, he was silent for a few seconds before he spoke. "You are right, what you said doesn't make me feel better or bring any closure. However, I understand what you are saying and the need to deal with it." He paused and when he spoke again, his voice was thick with emotion. "I, I just miss Anna so much! This hurts so bad. I feel incomplete. If that makes sense."

"It does," Tate offered sincerely. "Loss is never easy, but that's especially true when it is sudden and traumatic. I would worry more if it didn't feel as though you lost a part of you. I don't expect you to feel anything close to normal for a long while, but I do wonder, how are you caring for yourself in the meantime? Are you managing to eat and get some sleep?"

Josh didn't answer right away, and he did it was short and straight forward. "I eat simple. A sandwich, or soup. Nothing involved and as for sleep. I don't sleep well. A couple of hours here and there. I make do."

Sullivan wasn't surprised by his answer, but it still doesn't change the fact his routine wasn't sustainable. "I'm sure you know you can't live like that forever." Tate paused, then offered, "what do you still have to live for? What keeps you going even now?"

"I'm a Marine counselor." Josh answered as if that was answer enough. When he realized Tate wanted more he continued. "Marines don't quit, we don't leave jobs unfinished. The Marines are a family just like the crew of this ship. We look out for each other, leave no one behind. This mission is my current job. I won't quit."

"Surely Marines have to factor in their well-being when it comes to the mission, though, don't they? Their bodies still require food and rest, and can't go without those things any longer than anyone else, right?"

Josh gave her a smile. " Really Counselor? I beg to differ. We're Marines. I've gone days without sleep or just a cat nap here and there and very little prepared food. However, we're trained to live off the land, so you just have to know what to look for."

Sullivan offered a slight grin. "That, Marine, is what we in the counseling business like to call deflection. Even so, you haven't disproved my point, which is that even Marines have their limits when it comes to starvation and lack of sleep. Otherwise, catnaps and food, prepared or found by living off the land, wouldn't be necessary. All I'm suggesting is that no one can go forever without taking care of oneself. Do you truly disagree with me on that point?"

Now Josh grinned at her, "Deflection huh? Wasn't meaning to deflect counselor." He stated and then quickly continued. "I'm a Marine, Counselor, not stupid and no I don't disagree with you. I was merely stating that as Marines our limits far surpass those of the average crew member. We can go longer on less food and sleep than anyone or do you doubt that?" He volleyed back to her.

"Yes," Tate replied without hesitation. Her tone was without malice, and to prove that point, she softened her tone even more and clarified, "I don't say that with the intention of challenging your grit or your training, I'm just pointing out unless you've been genetically modified to some incredible degree, your ability to go without food or sleep is not so spectacularly long that it renders attention to your health and well-being unnecessary. I'd also venture that while Marine training has exposed you and prepared you for any number of psychological stresses, some things, like the death of someone you love, create pain and stress to a degree that surpasses even the most robust training."

Sullivan paused, then said, "I know this reality sucks, but it's actually a good thing there are things that you can't just power through by training. It means you aren't a robot who lacks empathy and the ability to connect with your environment beyond what training or a user manual teaches you to do. I don't need the people who protect me to be super first, and then human second."

"I can assure you that I am not a robot or some genetically modified human. I feel pain and heartache and a tremendous amount of emptiness in regard to Anna. You say this is a good thing. I won't debate it with you counselor, I take your word for it. I just wish the loneliness and emptiness would pass. However, I suppose I can't rush it." He looked across at her, "We'll always be here to protect you and the others counselor. Just flesh and blood marines. Whose motto is leave no one behind."

"I sm grateful for that, Lieutenant, and would never doubt your dedication or that of your fellow Marines. I believe you're right, mourning takes time, but that doesn't mean you have to endure it alone. I think we should continue to meet for a time, and if you'll indulge me, perhaps just for awhile, you will agree to not test your limits on going without food or sleep? Think of being kinder to your body as a way to help your mind maintain the resources it needs to do the mental and emotional work of coping with loss."

Josh sat quietly as Tate made her request of him, He considered for a few seconds before answering. "I can do that counselor. I promise to push my limits on not eating or sleeping. As for us continued to meet. I am agreeable to that."

Tate smiled. "Thank you. I know it wasn't easy coming here, but I'm hopeful you will tell your colleagues I don't bite."


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