2237-11-07 - Survivor's Guilt

Cate talks to Kamran about the stress of repeated injuries and narrow escapes.

Date: 2237-11-07

Location: Office

Related Scenes: None

Plot: None

Scene Number: 1549

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Cate maybe could have tried to postpone their meeting, with almost everyone going on shore leave, but she didn't. Instead, here she is, rapping on Kamran's door at the appointed time. She's wearing her khaki fatigues. The shiner from the brawl has faded, but in its place now are a couple still-healing scrapes and bruises visible on her face and hands. The stiff way she stands suggests there may be some unseen bandages as well.

Kamran still has a great deal of papers to process, as always, but he puts them into a folder as he calls, "Come in," to Cate and tucks that folder away in a filing cabinet. Which must mean it's another patient's confidential file. He goes ahead and gets Cate's out while he's in there. "Have a seat, how are you doing today?"

"Hi," Cate greets, reserved but cordial. She comes over and sits down, eyes tracking his movements with the files. "I'm all right. Got a little banged up in that last fight on Sagittaron, but I'll survive."

Kamran nods gently. "It must be hard to keep facing injuries that way," he says. "How do you feel about it?"

Cate hitches a shoulder briefly. "It sucks," she says plainly. "But that's war. That's what soldiers do." She rubs the side of her face self-consciously for a second before admitting, "Kinda pisses me off, the way everyone teases me about it though. 'Hey, Rhodes, when are you going to learn to duck.' and that shit. Even the Colonel. It's not like I stand out there waving a flag daring them to shoot me."

Kamran nods a little, giving Cate time to work toward that second part of what she has to say. "Why do you think they do that?" he wonders.

There's another little shrug. "Sometimes they're worried but trying to joke around about it. Sometimes they're just trying to yank my chain. Marines rib each other. It's not the end of the world, it just gets old," Cate says.

"I'm not necessarily trying to make a mountain out of a molehill," Kamran says with a gentle smile. "Just perhaps to remind you that it's probably not personal if that might be bothering you. You don't seem to get injured on average more than is within normal parameters," he says, glancing at her medical file. "Anything else on your mind?"

Cate arches an eyebrow when he says that, her face scrunched up in a disbelieving look. "Have you seen my medical file?" She must not realize that's the thing he was glancing at. Maybe the files got mixed up. "I'm a frakking bullet magnet. That's why they joke about it."

"Yes," Kamran says. "You get hit frequently, but...you've recovered well. Your injuries are typically not severe, not permanent. You understand, I frequently meet with people who sustain severe injuries. Many people like you have had many, many visits to the med bay, though obviously I can't give you any specific examples."

Cate shrugs it off. "I know others have had it worse. Newton and Court spent months in rehab. Becks might not walk again. Wyn lost his leg. I get it. Compared to them, I'm lucky." Compared to the average, though, one could objectively say otherwise.

"Does it make you uneasy?" Kamran asks. "It certainly seems to be on your mind."

Cate's lips press together in an unhappy expression, and she shrugs. "I think once you've been shot a couple dozen times, you'd be pretty stupid not to be a little uneasy about it. But like you said - others have been crippled. Killed. I try to count my blessings."

"What exactly makes you uneasy?" Kamran wants to know. "Do you think there is a reason that you are frequently injured?"

The question causes Cate to look down at her hands, frowning. One thumb traces along an old bullet scar on her hand. "You're going to think it sounds dumb," she says.

"I'm not here to judge you," Kamran replies. "What I'm here for is to listen to you and give you a chance to talk about the things that it isn't easy to talk about with anyone else. If it's something that's causing you distress, I'm here to help you look at it from another perspective. But you don't have to worry about my opinion."

A tiny bob of her head acknowledges his words, though her frown doesn't ease any. A few seconds tick by while she gathers her thoughts, then she lifts her eyes to his and ventures, "I think it's fate - god -" Yes, singular, despite polytheism being more prevalent "- whatever you want to call it - balancing out the scales. It's the price for all the times I've survived against ridiculous odds."

Kamran nods at this reply, making a note. "So you think the price of your good fortune is a series of small wounds?" he asks. "Tell me more about the god you follow and how these debts work."

Cate shakes her head. "It's not, like, there are rules that it has to be balanced or anything. It's just..." She presses her lips together, trying to find the words. "My faith believes that that things - well, the important things - happen for a reason. So I look for one. Something more than just dumb stupid luck being behind it all. And I don't know why else you would keep sparing a girl from these insane situations - things that would be a miracle if you survived once, but she's survived a fistful of them - but then also keep letting that same girl get hurt over and over again." There's a slightly pained look on her face.

"I see," Kamran replies, making another note. "Well, there's nothing wrong with having beliefs, I have my own religious beliefs. But just so I understand: is it that you think your god is keeping you alive /to/ harm you this way, or that you must be harmed in service of a greater fate to come later on?"

Cate lets out an awkward chuckle. "I don't think my god is a sadist, if that's what you're getting at. I like to think there's a good purpose for it. Like... I'm a doctor. Maybe I survive so I can keep helping others survive." She shrugs again. "Maybe getting hurt... it's just to keep the good luck from going to my head, or 'what doesn't kill you makes you stronger'... or hell, I don't know. But believing there's some reason for it... that helps me get through it."

"I'm really not hinting at anything, I just want to try to understand your belief system," Kamran replies. "So believing there's a reason helps you endure," he repeats. "But it still seems to be bothering you right now. Why is that?"

Cate lifts her hands in a helpless gesture. "Because it sucks to get shot? To go around with your ears ringing for three days because you were too close to an artillery shell going off... again. I think that shit would bother pretty much anybody." She lets her hands fall, and rubs her leg a little, frowning. "But I manage. It doesn't bother me enough to keep me from doing my job."

Kamran nods a little. "I wasn't sure if you were upset from the experience of being shot," he says, "Or the fear that it will keep happening."

Cate shrugs slightly. "Sure, I worry about that sometimes. But I try not to. I mean, that's not something I can really control. I'm a good medic, I take cover whenever I can. I don't take stupid risks. I say my prayers. Beyond that..." A little headshake is offered, lips pressed in a what can you do expression.

"Well, there's nothing unusual in not enjoying being shot or shot at, that's for certain," Kamran answers. "So if that's not something you feel you need my help with, let me ask, how are you doing coming to grips with the guilt we had previously talked about?"

Cate's brow creases at the turn in the conversation, her hands fidgeting a little in her lap. "The same, I guess. It's like you said - survivor's guilt is a normal reaction to that sort of thing. It's nothing I haven't dealt with before."

"Do you want to talk about your history with survivor's guilt?" Kamran suggests. "Have you felt like you've worked through it successfully in the past?"

Eyes downcast, Cate offers a tiny headshake, possibly without realizing it. Yet despite the instinctive denial, she presses on. "I already did. I figure I was spared for a reason. This time - I was able to get out and get help back to my squad." Her somber tone is a stark contrast with the confident replies about the physical injuries. "It doesn't make it easy to live with. But it makes it bearable."

"Bearable is an excellent first step," he says. "For many people, bearable is enough. But if your faith says that everything happens for a reason, then where does guilt come from?"

Cate offers a rueful half-smile. "I'd like to meet a person who never once had any doubts about their faith. Even the couple priests I've known have their moments. Maybe it's just part of being human." The smile fades. "It doesn't go away, but it gets better. Old things... I don't think about them too much any more."

"So your guilt is a kind of doubt in your faith?" Kamran replies. "Have you ever talked about that before?"

Cate frowns a touch. "It's not that I doubt my faith itself, just my interpretation of what's happened. I think maybe I'm not explaining it well."

Kamran nods a little. "Forgive me," he says. "I'm just trying to understand. It isn't always easy to clearly verbalize understandings of faith. Maybe they can't be perfectly put into words."

"I wish I could explain it better. But it's like..." Cate frowns again, fumbling for an analogy. "It's like when you're a doctor, and you lose a patient. You can tell yourself you did everything you could. It was just their time, everything happens for a reason, whatever you choose to believe. But sometimes, in the back of your head, there's still that little doubt - was there something more I could've done. And all the rationalizations and faith in the world sometimes can't make that go away. You just have to deal with it and move on."

"Right," Kamran says. "But of course, if you /did/ think of the one thing you /could/ have done better, that wouldn't help anything, would it? Since it's already past."

Cate shakes her head, lips pressed together. "No," she acknowledges. "But thinking about it can tell you if you should be making amends, or do something different in the future. Or it can help you be more sure that there really wasn't anything more you could've done... even if you're never a hundred percent sure."

"Do you think anyone wants you to be making amends to them?" Kamran asks. "And do you think these are things you could ever be sure of even if you thought about them for hours? Have you found that, as a doctor, going over and over a case helps you be surre?"

"Sometimes it helps, yeah." A sad frown settles on Cate's lips. "What do you think I should do? Just forget about it?"

"As long as you're honest with yourself about what helps you function best and what gets in the way of being able to go about your life in the way that you want," Kamran says, "I think you can approach trauma in various ways. Some people find it better to find a way to let go and allow themselves to forget. Other people find that they have to directly face something to get through it. There has been success using both methods, though it's not an easy process either way. So I would say that you need to give some thought to exactly what works for you, what allows you to live your life."

"I'm living my life, Doctor," Cate points out with a wry half-smile. "I have my faith, I have my friends, and I have a few strategies I picked up when I volunteered in a support group back home. I'm not saying it's all perfect, but... I get by all right, all things considered." Her eyes lift to the clock. "We about done?"

"Sure," Kamran says. "And listen, if you think your strategies are working well for you and you're not facing an amount of distress that is interrupting your duties or your ability to function in your personal life, then I can release your requirement to see me, although you can come in any time you'd like and I would encourage you to come see me again if you feel particularly distressed or experience unusual emotional or cognitive states."

Cate nods, relaxing a bit when he releases her from the obligation. "Okay. I will. Thanks."


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