ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem is spillover from the March 1, 2016 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] dialecticdreamer and [personal profile] technoshaman. It also fills the "selfish" square in my 2-29-16 card for the Villain Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by LJ user Daisiesrockalot. It belongs to the Shiv thread of the Polychrome Heroics series, and directly follows "To Give the Problem Back." Make sure you've read that one, or this one won't make much sense.


WARNING: This poem contains some intense topics. Highlight to read the warnings, some of which are spoilers. The inside of Shiv's head is a terrible, horrible mess and even with Dr. G and Dr. Bloch both trying to help, much of what Shiv thinks or feels in this scene is bent to hell. This includes poor self-image, low sense of self-worth, reluctance (but not complete refusal) to talk about any of the problems, trouble believing that problems can be fixed, a metric fuckton of awful memories making current challenges even harder, assumptions that current people will misbehave in the same ways as previous people have, Shiv's inevitable misery and anxiety over having his boundaries violated recently, some very fatalistic views about that, exploration of distorted thought patterns, low expectations of relationships, attachment disorder, confusion, physical skittishness, feeling completely unheard, fractious communication, and other emotional mayhem. Readers who have had challenges with counseling or other health care in the past may find this a difficult read. However, by the end of the conversation, the situation is greatly improved. If these are sensitive issues for you, please consider your tastes and headspace before reading onward.


"To Try Making Things Right"


Shiv sat in the yellow meeting room
with Dr. G, drawing on a worksheet
about how to think over your problems.

It was nerve-wracking to wait for
Dr. Bloch to come in and probably
yell at him, but Dr. G insisted that
this would work and Shiv didn't
exactly have any better ideas.

Shiv didn't even have time to finish
the first row of stick-figure pictures
before the door swung open
and Dr. Bloch stepped in.

"Good morning, Shiv," he said,
as if everything was just fine.
"What can I do for you today?"

"Oh, thank god," Dr. G murmured.

"I-I -- uh -- Dr. G wanted us to talk
about some stuff," Shiv stammered.

"I'm happy to oblige," Dr. Bloch said
as he took a seat at the table.

"I am so glad that you use
a fresh-start model," Dr. G said.

"In my line of work, I have to,"
Dr. Bloch said dryly. "If I tried
to use long-term tallies here, I'd
run out of people to talk with inside of
a month -- including my coworkers
as well as the inmates."

"I'm lost," Shiv said, staring at him.

"Fresh start means every time I meet
with someone, I deal with them in
that moment, not based on whatever
happened earlier," Dr. Bloch explained.

"Sounds risky," Shiv said. You couldn't
afford to forget who had a hate-on for you.
That was a good way to get killed.

"This doesn't mean I ignore risks,"
Dr. Bloch said. "I just try to give people
a chance to try out different ways of interacting
so they can see what works and what doesn't.
Today is a new day with no mistakes in it."

"That's uh ... different," Shiv said.
He had no idea what to do with it.
"I don't know what to say."

"You could say good morning,"
Dr. G prompted with a smile.

"Good morning," Shiv said, not
because he cared about manners but
because he was just that fucking lost. Still.

"It looks like you won your bet,"
Dr. Bloch said, reaching for
the bag of licorice. "What's in --"

Shiv promptly curled a hand around
his candy and swept it into his lap.

"Don't feel like sharing today?"
Dr. G. said. "That's okay."

Shiv just glared at the man.
If he didn't look out for himself,
who would? Nobody, that's who.
It wasn't selfish. It was just survival.

"I was only curious about the label,
Shiv, I wouldn't take anything of yours
without asking," Dr. Bloch said mildly.
"Would you rather read me the ingredients?"

The ingredients were tiny, tiny letters
printed on the bag, and some of the words
were longer ones than Shiv could get.
"Do I have to?" he muttered.

"No, I can just show Dr. Bloch
the ingredients," said Dr. G,
typing something on his tablet.
He turned the screen around
so that the doctor could see it.
"The manufacturer has a list."

"Candy, but not garbage,"
Dr. Bloch said after a moment.
"It sounds like you picked
a good batch of allsorts."

"Well, that's really up to Shiv,"
said Dr. G with a tip of his hand.

"Seriously? We're talking
about my candy?" Shiv said,
shaking his head at them.

"You worked hard for that candy,"
Dr. G said. "Would you rather
talk about something else?"

"Not really," Shiv said.

"Then on that note, I brought
something for you," Dr. Bloch said,
one hand reaching for his coat.

Shiv shied away so hard that
he almost tipped over his chair.

"What in the world did I do wrong?"
Dr. Bloch said, staring at him.

"You were about to put your hand
out of sight," Dr. G said quietly.
"For trauma-informed care, don't
do that without warning people.
First explain what you plan to do,
then move your coat out of the way,
and take out the item slowly."

"Most of the time I interact with people
in the infirmary, and I know about moving
slowly and explaining things in there,"
said Dr. Bloch. "Evidently I need to pay
more attention to that elsewhere, too."

"That might help," Dr. G agreed.

"I brought you a candy bar," Dr. Bloch said,
turning to Shiv. "Would you like to have it?"

"Yeah," Shiv said, wary but intrigued.

Dr. Bloch pushed his coat aside
and took out a candy bar wrapped in
silver foil with purple flowers, carefully
letting Shiv see every motion.

"Here you go," he said, and
slid the candy bar over the table.
"It's white chocolate and lavender."

The wrapper crinkled as Shiv
opened it. The white chocolate had
tiny purple lumps in it. He broke off
one square and nibbled the corner.

"It tastes like soap!" he said happily,
putting the rest in his mouth.

Dr. Bloch's eyebrows went up.
"You like the taste of soap?"

"Yeah, this one place I stayed,
they didn't like all the lip I gave them,
so I got a real bathroom buffet," Shiv said.
"I like the little old lady soaps, you know,
the lavender and rose and stuff? But not
the kind here at the prison." He shuddered.
"That stuff tastes like floor cleaner."

"You tasted the soap," Dr. Bloch said.

Shiv reached up and picked his teeth
with a fingernail, trying to pry loose
a lavender bud. "Not on purpose."

"Well, don't eat soap, it can upset
your stomach or your bowels,"
said Dr. Bloch. "Just stick to
floral-flavored candy instead."

"There's more of it?" Shiv said,
looking at his chocolate bar.

Dr. G chuckled as he picked up
his tablet and tapped something on it.
"Oh yes," he said. "Edible flowers
are very popular in sweets."

When he turned the tablet around,
Shiv could see a bunch of chocolates
all with flowery-sounding names.
Several of them even had petals
glued to the top somehow.

"I ain't never had anything
that fancy," he said.

"Well then, we'll keep these in mind
as high-value treats," said Dr. G.

"I'm gonna miss getting treats,"
Shiv said. They'd been good.

"You can still earn treats if you
want to," said Dr. Bloch. "That's
why I brought the candy bar today,
just in case you were doing better.
One bad day, one missed treat.
Next time, you get a new chance,
and it's up to you what to do."

"Nobody cares what I do,
or what I think or how I feel
or what I need," Shiv said,
lowering his chin to his hand.
"They just do what they want."

"If I didn't care, then I wouldn't
have sent you that batch of
feedback forms," said Dr. Bloch.

"What?" Shiv said, sitting up.

"You haven't checked your inbox since you
left the infirmary, have you?" Dr. Bloch said
with a sigh. "I sent you some forms about
the quality of care that you received."

"Yeah, that sucked," Shiv said.
"Why'd you send me feedback forms?"

"Because I want to know what
you think," said Dr. Bloch.

"I printed off copies based on what
Dr. Bloch showed me," said Dr. G.
He took out a paperclipped stack
of pages and passed them to Shiv.
"You can do them now, if you like."

Shiv flipped through the pages, expecting
them to be confusing like forms always were,
but these ... almost made sense to him.

They weren't full of long things to write,
they just had little boxes or bubbles to mark,
or a few lines to fill in. One had a row
of smiling and frowning faces on it.

Another had a large cloud shape
with room to draw. Shiv grabbed
that one and the pastel pencils.

"You're big on feedback," Dr. G said
to Dr. Bloch. "That's encouraging, and
I don't see it often enough in doctors."

Dr. Bloch muttered something
under his breath that Shiv was
pretty sure had to be rude.

"Well, they should be,"
Dr. Bloch said aloud. "How else
are we supposed to learn what's going
wrong? If I knew where I was making
mistakes, I wouldn't be making them!"

"Good answer," Dr. G said. "I wish
that more people understood that."

Shiv wished that too, he just
understood he'd never get it.

He had pencils, though, and
paper to draw on. So he drew
a stabby picture because he
was still mad at Dr. Bloch, and
one candy bar couldn't fix that.

Even if it was really good candy
that he took another bite of while
he worked on his drawing.

"It's too bad that we don't have
better aftermath forms for my side,"
said Dr. Bloch. "They're too clinical,
and I don't think that's where things
went wrong in this instance."

"Would you like some worksheets?"
said Dr. G. "I brought all kinds of things
for personal awareness and problem-solving."

"Yes, please," Dr. Bloch said.

"Shiv, do you have some that you're
not interested in, or should I get out
my duplicates?" Dr. G asked.

Shiv pushed away some of the pages
that were all lines and words -- no way
did he want to try filling those -- but he
kept the good picture ones to himself.

Maybe it was selfish of him,
but he was a supervillain,
he was allowed to be selfish.

"Thank you for sharing," Dr. Bloch said.
He reached out to take the pencil that
Dr. G offered to him, and started writing.

Shiv picked up the red pencil and
started coloring in the blood.

"Well, we got a little stuck earlier,
so if worksheets help people frame
their thoughts and feelings better,
then I'm all in favor," said Dr. G.

Dr. Bloch glanced over at Shiv,
who hunched closer around his picture.
"I thought you might like that form, since
it has space for drawing," he said.

"Yeah," Shiv admitted. "Paperwork sucks,
but it sucks less if I can fill it out with
pictures. Words are too hard."

"What are you drawing?" Dr. Bloch asked.

"Uh ..." Just then Shiv realized how
screwed he was, because it was violent,
and they weren't supposed to do that.

"What happens in therapy, stays
in therapy, unless you try to harm
someone," Dr. G reminded him.

"That's uh ... matter of opinion,"
Shiv said. He'd heard it before,
and knew better than to believe it.

Then again, Dr. G hadn't freaked
over the river picture, and that one
had been almost as bad as this.
So maybe he wouldn't after all.

Shiv glanced sidelong at Dr. Bloch.

"Dr. G is the therapist here, so I'll
follow his lead," said Dr. Bloch.

Slowly Shiv uncurled enough to let them
see his picture: a body in a white coat
lying facedown on the floor, with
lots of knives stuck in his back
and blood pooling around him.

"The Ten of Swords," Dr. Bloch said.
"That's quite a good rendition there.
What's your favorite interpretation of
that card? Betrayal? Hitting rock bottom?
Total disaster? Something else?"

"What card?" Shiv said blankly.

"Do you remember me telling you
about my premed roommate, the one
who taught me most of what I know
about herbalism?" said Dr. Bloch.

"Yeah, when we were talking about
the herbal stuff you use," said Shiv.

"Well, Donovan was into all
of that bohemian stuff, including
Tarot cards like this," said Dr. Bloch.
"One time, he even predicted my
flunking an exam, and believe me,
I did not see that one coming."

Shiv was still lost, lost, lost.

It must have shown on his face
or something, because Dr. Bloch
used his tablet to look up a webpage.

"Here, this is the Ten of Swords," he said.
"Different decks illustrate it in different ways,
but the most common is a dead man with
ten swords or knives in his back, like this.
Then you can read the meanings, too."

Shiv squinted at the screen. The image
did look a lot like what he'd drawn, and
the words were spot on as well.

"Is this ... real? Like a superpower?"
he wondered, touching the picture.

Dr. Bloch waffled a hand in the air.
"Jury's still out on that one," he said.

"It can be real; some soups have
forecasting gifts that work well with
tools such as cards," said Dr. G.
"Other people find the images useful
for psychological reasons. They can
help you think about things in a new way,
or give you ideas about what to try next."

"That's how I always used them,
just for insights," said Dr. Bloch.
"Betrayal is betrayal, and there's
no fortunetelling needed to see
that we hurt each other."

"You're not afraid of me?" Shiv said,
completely baffled. "But I drew ..."

Dr. Bloch shook his head. "If you
really wanted to stab me, then
you could have just done it. I
think you're angry -- or were --
and you like sharp things, so
that's how you put it on paper.
Better to draw it than to do it."

"That is an excellent observation,"
Dr. G said with a firm nod. "Art
is not the same as acting out
whatever you felt like drawing,
but it can release the tension."

Hesitantly Shiv picked up the worksheet
that he'd been working on earlier, the one
with the cartoon dudes. He sketched in
the last couple of squares there, and
then pushed the page toward Dr. G.

"I uh, don't know how to fix it, but
this is what I remember," Shiv said.

Dr. G looked at it, nodded, and then
handed it back. "You felt awful, couldn't
think very clearly, and tried to make people
leave you alone," he said. "It sort of
worked, but not very well."

"Yeah," Shiv said, flicking
the corner of the page.

"Let me try talking it out with
Dr. Bloch a bit, and you can
illustrate his answers," said Dr. G.
"That might help you see them better."

"Okay," Shiv said. He'd never tried
anything like that before, but it was
less nutty than some other exercises.

So Dr. Bloch explained what had
happened from his viewpoint, while
Shiv doodled pictures to show it.

They were different than his. Well, huh.

"Did you get what you wanted?"
Dr. G asked, looking at Dr. Bloch.

"God no," Dr. Bloch said, rapping
his pencil against the page where he'd
been working on his own form. "Shiv looked
miserable, and I wanted to help him feel
better. It was a disaster. I'm pretty sure
that I just made matters worse."

"Shiv, did your treatment in
the infirmary make you feel
worse?" Dr. G asked.

Shiv lifted his chin to glare
at Dr. Bloch. "Yes."

"I am sorry for that," Dr. Bloch said.

"But ... you're the doctor,"
Shiv said, bewildered.

The pencil snapped.

Shiv startled, looking over
as Dr. Bloch carefully set
the two halves on the table
then put his hands in his pockets.

"Shiv, just because I am a doctor
does not mean that I am always right,"
said Dr. Bloch. "Anyone who says
things like that is an idiot."

"So basically all the doctors
that I know," said Shiv.

Dr. Bloch sighed. "Evidently so."

"Fresh pencil?" Dr. G said,
taking another from his case.

"Not just yet, I need a minute,"
Dr. Bloch said, waving him off.

Shiv could see Dr. Bloch's pants
moving, shifting, in a rhythm. "Did you ...
bring a stress toy too?" he wondered.

With a wry smile, Dr. Bloch pulled
his hand out of his pocket to show
a rubbery black egg. "Yes, I did,"
he said, offering it to Shiv.

The surface felt bumpy under
Shiv's fingertips, kind of like
an avocado. He tried squeezing
it, but the tough material barely
gave way, not even when
he used both hands.

"It's too stiff for you, that's all,"
said Dr. Bloch. "You just need
a softer egg. That one's mine."

"Why do you even have it?"
Shiv said. "You're not an inmate."

"I have a very stressful job and I use
my hands all day long, so I've worked my way
up to the extra-firm level," said Dr. Bloch.
This helps me stay calm and keep
my hands from developing problems."

Shiv passed it back to him, and
watched in amazement as Dr. Bloch
squashed the thing almost flat. Shiv
hadn't realized how strong the man was.

"You're really upset," Shiv said.
He hadn't actually believed it
until he saw the man's hand
working that egg in his pocket.

"Yes," Dr. Bloch said.

"So from what I'm hearing,
we all agree that what happened
in the infirmary was unsatisfactory?"
Dr. G asked, looking at them.

Everyone nodded.

"In conflict resolution, always try
to start from a point of agreement,"
Dr. G explained to Shiv. "Do we all
want to look for a better solution?"

"Yeah, like that's gonna happen,"
Shiv said bitterly.

Dr. G cleared his throat. "Sarcasm
is a useful tool when people are not
listening to you, or they have no interest
in problem-solving," he said. "It is less so
when people want to work things out, and
it can even make that process harder.
Think carefully about the tools you
choose to communicate, Shiv."

"That's just how I talk," Shiv said,
"and people always get on my case
about it, no matter what I do!"

"If you would like to work on
your communication skills, we don't
have time to do it all right now, but
we can add that to our list of projects,"
Dr. G said. "I have some handouts
and worksheets on that topic."

He took out another little stack,
and wow, the table was getting covered.
Once again, some of them had words but
others had pictures -- magnets here,
and a hand on a couple of others.

Shiv couldn't resist laying his own hand
over the picture on the page, trying
to match up while reading the text.

Then he remembered all the times
he'd gotten yelled at for doing things
like that, and looked up to check.

"If using your hands helps you
remember things, do it," said Dr. G.

Shiv looked at the thumb words.
Well, the underlying issue was ...
"We butted heads and it sucked,"
he said, wiggling his thumb.

"What do you want to do now?"
Dr. G asked, looking at both of them.

"To try making things right," said Dr. Bloch.
"Chances are, Shiv and I will need
to work together in the future,
and right now we can't."

Needs and requests were on
the far end of the hand. "I wish
people would listen to me, but
they never do," Shiv said.

"All right, let's explore what happened,"
said Dr. G. "I think the first thing that
went wrong was Shiv getting a headache
from overusing his superpowers. So
one way to head it off is for everyone
to watch for early warning signals."

"But how do you know what's going
to happen before it does?" Shiv said.

"Overstrain rarely happens fast," said Dr. G.
"It might start with you feeling tired or cranky,
then it gets harder to use your ability. When
the headache begins, it's just kind of a tight or
stuffy feeling at first, but then it gets a lot worse.
That's the part we want to avoid. The same applies
to other challenges: watch for early warnings."

As Dr. G explained all that, Dr. Bloch was
writing notes, and Shiv was just staring.

"You can either watch for these signs
yourself, Shiv, or recruit spotters to help,"
Dr. G went on. "It's just like getting
a spotter in the gym, or something
we've talked about in group therapy,
an emotional spotter for --"

"Still not interested in that group shit,"
Shiv said, waving his hands frantically.

"Okay, that's your decision," Dr. G said.
"Before you throw the baby out with
the bathwater, though, consider that
asking Ambrose or Dr. Bloch to spot
for you might reduce the number of
overstrain headaches you get before
you learn your current limits."

Shiv struggled with the mental effort
of weighing his reluctance to ask for help
against how much that headache sucked.

"Wacker spots me in the gym,"
Shiv said finally. "He's good at it,
or at least, he hasn't dropped me yet."

"Then you have a good example,"
said Dr. G. "Anyone you find reliable
can help you watch for warning signs
that you're about to push your power
too far, so you can stop short."

"Like exercising until you're tired
and sore, not until you rip something,"
Shiv said as he worked his way through it.

"Exactly!" Dr. G said, clapping his hands.
"Aim for the same practice with superpowers:
push it just past your comfortable limit, and
then ease up so you don't hurt yourself.
Over time, you'll build up strength."

"That's a lot to remember," Shiv said.
He wasn't exactly great at that.

"I have worksheets on wellness and
warning signs," said Dr. G. "That way
you could record symptoms, what helps
and what doesn't, who you want for
support and who you don't, how long
you can practice safely, and so on."

"How long is a safe timespan for
using superpowers?" Dr. Bloch asked.

"It varies depending on the person
and their powers, but try half an hour
to an hour for Shiv," Dr. G suggested.

Shiv thought about it, and yeah, it had
built up pretty much like that. "Okay, but I don't
get many chances to practice at all," he said.
"I have to take what I can get, when I can."

"And that is why you need safe things
you can play with anytime," said Dr. G.
"I'm working on that angle for you.
Did you notice any other warnings
or symptoms you'd like to share?"

The big one was getting too scary
to hold back anymore. "It hurt
to use my power," Shiv said.
"Just being in the infirmary was ...
not fun with all the sharp things."

"That's what it was," Dr. Bloch said,
snapping his fingers. "I thought that
you were keeping your talent to yourself
for some reason, and it bothered me,
but I couldn't pin down why."

"So there's another idea," Dr. G said.
"If you don't need the medical equipment,
do the checkup in another room."

"I didn't want to go at all,"
Shiv grumbled. "I was too tired."

"And that brings us to another of
the major issues," Dr. G said, then
turned to Dr. Bloch. "Do you want
to try explaining your perspective?"

Dr. Bloch pressed the tips of his fingers
together. "The state has an obligation
to take good care of you," he said to Shiv.
"Among the reasons why we can't just ignore
potential health problems are that it's inhumane,
that small ones can become big ones that way,
that it creates opportunities for abuse of inmates,
and that you could -- rightfully -- sue the prison
if we denied you appropriate health care."

"Yeah, now they care," Shiv snarked.

"A more polite way to put that would be,
people's actions don't always match up
to their claims," Dr. G said. "True?"

"Yeah," Shiv said.

"We've already seen how ignoring
someone's preferences can make matters
worse instead of better," Dr. G said,
looking at Dr. Bloch, who nodded back.
"Let's explore some other options."

"Like how?" Shiv said.

"We'll try a little roleplaying," said Dr. G.
"Imagine going back to the craft room. You
have a headache, but this time, people do
whatever you ask. What happens next?"

"I go back to my room and try
to sleep it off," Shiv said.

"Okay, you do that," said Dr. G.
"How long do you typically nap?"

"About an hour, maybe two-three hours
if I feel really tired," Shiv said, as
his pencil doodled a bed.

"Three hours later, you wake up.
You feel a little less tired, but not
refreshed; and your head still hurts,
maybe not quite as much, but a lot,"
said Dr. G. "Now what do you do,
after your first solution didn't fix
everything? Would you reconsider
making a trip to the infirmary?"

"How long do those headaches last?"
Shiv said, growing more alarmed.

"Based on the symptoms I've heard here,
probably six to twelve hours, although
it can be more or less," said Dr. G.

Shiv winced.

"Longer than you'd want to wait
it out?" Dr. G said gently.

"Yeah, probably," said Shiv. "If I
woke up still feeling like crap, then I'd
call it in, if I wasn't also still mad."

"But if they did what you asked, you
wouldn't have gotten mad," Dr. G said.
"Okay, different scenario. You fall down
the stairs and break your foot. Now what?"

"Brace it up and try not to limp," Shiv said.

"Even if you've got free health care and
a doctor who at least tries to work with you?"
Dr. G said. "You'd rather deal with it yourself
and risk it healing wrong, maybe leaving
you with a permanent limp or pain?"

Shiv looked away. "Maybe not."

"Suppose something really bad happens --
big fight in the cafeteria, so much metal moving
that you can't track it all, and you get stabbed,"
said Dr. G. "Then what would you choose?"

"Infirmary," Shiv said.
"I'm stubborn, not stupid."

"How about a major illness instead of
an injury?" said Dr. G. "Then what?"

"Yeah, I'd call," Shiv said. He rubbed
his chest. "Some things, they got pills to fix.
This one time I got really sick, and nobody
would believe me that I could barely breathe."
His voice dropped. "Thought I was gonna die."

Something squeaked, making Shiv jump.

"Sorry," said Dr. Bloch. He took the egg
out of his pocket again. "If I squeeze too hard,
sometimes this thing makes noise like that. I
am not happy with those people right now."

"So we agree that Dr. Bloch is useful
at least in emergencies," said Dr. G.
"Let's switch now. Suppose that Shiv went
to the infirmary and agreed to try whatever
you suggested. What would you do?"

"I wouldn't do that," Shiv said.

"I know, but we're imagining now,"
said Dr. G. "Let's give Dr. Bloch a chance
to find out why you avoid doing that."

"I'd run the basic checkup and ask
what happened, try to figure out
the problem," said Dr. Bloch.

"Which wouldn't have worked, since
at that time, neither of you knew about
overstrain headaches," said Dr. G.
"What do you do when you're stuck?"

"Treat the symptoms first, and usually
order more tests," said Dr. Bloch.

"And when that didn't work either?
Or the poking around made Shiv cranky
even if he was trying to go along?" said Dr. G.

Dr. Bloch gave Shiv a silent look.

Shiv just shrugged. He wasn't sure
how Dr. G would react to hearing that
there was some poking Shiv didn't mind.

"Keep looking, but I'd get worried, and
most people will start resisting some of
the more ... intrusive options," said Dr. Bloch.

"There's one problem," Dr. G said.
"Another is having a bad reaction, and
many soups have at least one thing
that causes an allergic reaction."

"Oh yeah," Shiv said. He'd been
all up and down that roller-coaster.

"Would you be willing to tell me
what you're allergic to, so that
I know to avoid it?" Dr. Bloch said.

"I don't know most of 'em," Shiv said
with a shrug. "People hardly ever
tell me what they're doing to me."

The egg chirped in Dr. Bloch's pocket.
"Going ... forward ... I hope that we
can manage better than that."

"It sounds to me like all or nothing
doesn't have very good outcomes,"
said Dr. G. "Maybe if we put our heads
together, then we can find a middle road
that works better than the extremes."

"I'm in favor of that," Dr. Bloch said,
then turned to look at Shiv.

"I guess," said Shiv.

"All right, one thing to consider is
the range between a real emergency
and something more minor," said Dr. G.
"There are some things we all agree need
a trip to the infirmary, and from there it varies.
How much wiggle room do we have?"

Dr. Bloch turned his hand over and back.
"Some, but not a lot," he said. "The main one
is that the guards can handle anything that can
be treated out of a standard first-aid kit. We've
found that inmates are less prone to hiding
injuries if they have a chance at a quick fix."

"That would've worked with a Soup-to-Nuts kit,"
said Dr. G. "We stock blue chamomile for
exactly that kind of complaint."

"The warden won't allow it," said Dr. Bloch.
"God knows, I've argued for it, but I always lose."

"Which brings us back to denial of care and
probably a lawsuit," said Dr. G. "Ah well, it's
his funeral. In the meantime, we might look
at mapping ranges that do or don't require
visiting the infirmary. The point is to offer
medical assistance, not to force it."

"There are reasons why migraine symptoms
are on the urgent list," Dr. Bloch said quietly.

"Why, when it's just a headache?" Shiv said.

"Because the same symptoms don't just
apply to migraines, and apparently also
overstrain, they get into some nasty stuff
like brain injuries or tumors," said Dr. Bloch.
"Those can kill if left untreated."

"Overstrain can be fatal too," Dr. G said.
"It's rare, but people can push themselves
beyond their limits in an emergency."

"Like a winter heart attack from someone
shoveling too much snow," Dr. Bloch said.
"Sudden, unaccustomed effort builds up
enough to cause a systemic collapse."

"Nobody said anything about that!"
Shiv squeaked, clutching his hair.

"We try not to cause avoidable distress,
and part of that includes not mentioning
the scarier possibilities unless we think that
they're likely," said Dr. Bloch. "The bad stuff
has other symptoms that I'm not seeing -- but I'm
a doctor and know what to look for. With the guards
and the other staff, we just give them a short list of
red flags. They're not experts, and it's neither
fair nor effective to demand too much of them."

"On the other hand, most of those things
aren't emergencies," said Dr. G. "It may
yield better results if you offer assistance,
and then allow people a few hours to think
about it, than pressuring them immediately.
Give them some information, but let them
make their own decisions about it."

"Yeah, if anyone would listen,
but they don't," Shiv said bitterly.
"I kept telling them that I didn't
want to be there, but nobody
would listen to me."

"That right there," Dr. G said,
pointing a finger at Shiv but
looking at Dr. Bloch. "You need
to pay attention to that. Shiv almost
never says anything straight out, so
when he starts leveling, that is
absolutely crucial information.
Ignore it, and he'll shut you out."

"I'm willing to bend as far as I can,
but the prison regs are not written with
flexibility in mind," Dr. Bloch said,
spreading his hands.

"Then here is a place where I can offer
concrete assistance," said Dr. G. "There's
a law about triggers and special needs, which
is designed to protect both caregivers and
clients by ruling out activities that are likely
to provoke a dangerous result, as long
as a counselor or healer signs for it.
Shiv, this has to be your choice,
if you think it sounds useful."

"Maybe, but ... I don't know what
to say in it," Shiv said. "People always
want me to explain what and why, and
I never have the words for it."

"I'd be happy to write out some samples
for you to tweak into shape," said Dr. G.

Shiv weighed the risk of letting
that information loose against
another crappy infirmary visit.
"Yeah, okay," he said.

It took a few minutes to work out
the wording, but in the end all of them
were satisfied enough to sign it.

"So that leaves us to work on
the relationship issues," said Dr. G.
"I think you two are close to smooth."

"Do we have to?" Shiv groaned.
"I hate talking about my feelings."

"We know," said Dr. Bloch. "Would you
rather talk about mine? I don't mind, and
we can work on this issue from either end."

"That should work," Dr. G said,
looking at Shiv for his input.

Shiv rested his chin on his hand and
gazed at Dr. Bloch. "You really are
worried about me," he said.

"It's my job," said Dr. Bloch. "Inmates
are challenging, supervillains more so,
but I wouldn't be here if I didn't think
that you were worth my time."

"So what makes you less worried?"
Shiv said. "Other than dragging me
through hoops that I won't jump?"

"I want to do this one," Dr. Bloch said,
pushing forward a worksheet that was
meant for two people to complain about
the same problem. "I like the equality."

Shiv winced. "That one's all writing,
it's why I let you have it," he said."

He had liked that it was even, and
not putting all the blame on him,
but it was still too hard to write.
Usually the pages that people
pushed only blamed him. They
could put that crap on the table,
but they couldn't make him sign it.

"Go ahead and start on yours,"
Dr. G said to Dr. Bloch, then turned
to Shiv. "Would you rather try something
simpler? Here's one that focuses just on
you. It may be easier to frame that before
trying to understand someone else."

"I hate these things," Shiv said,
glaring at the boxes that said
I am and I am not on them.
"People always want me to say
things that I don't really mean."

"I'd much rather see your own ideas,"
said Dr. G. "Shiv, it's your worksheet.
If you want to fill it in with I'm a supervillain
and I'm not a whackjob, then go for it."

So Shiv wrote those down, just to see
if anyone would stop him, but they didn't.

He filled in the other squares with words
and pictures, and it settled something
in him that had felt out of place.

"There now, you're centered," said Dr. G.
"You reminded yourself who you are.
Use that to think about how you relate to
other people, or compare their thoughts and
feelings with yours." He took both worksheets
and lined them up, which didn't help much
because they were about different things.

"They don't match," Shiv said.

Dr. G added more pages that Shiv
and Dr. Bloch had been working on,
fitting them together like puzzle pieces,
some complete and others barely started.

"Both of you have mentioned some things
you want and things you don't want," said Dr. G.
"Now you just need to think about what ways of
interacting might help you get what you want and
avoid the problems that you don't want."

"Like what?" Shiv said. "We're not
friends. We just do what we do."

"Then you'll keep getting
what you've gotten," said Dr. G.
"How is that working out for you?"

"You could tell me more about how you
would prefer to be treated in the infirmary,"
Dr. Bloch said to Shiv. "I'd bid really, really high
for some advance directives. Anything would
be better than working blind like I am now, and
I don't think that my aim is doing very well."

"Better'n anyone else," Shiv muttered.
He drew a looping, tangled line along
the edge of one page. "It's just ... hard,
trying to talk about stuff and figure what's
better or worse. Besides, paperwork
always winds up biting me in the ass."

"Then start small," Dr. G said.
"Pick one thing that would help,
and write that down. You don't
have to take anything on faith,
Shiv. You can test it, and see
how people handle a little bit
of information or responsibility
before you give them more."

Shiv hesitated, rocking back
and forth in his chair.

It was scary and awkward,
trying to think about these things.
He didn't know how, really, but he
also didn't like other people making
all the choices in his life. That was
why he'd run away so often.

"Tell you what -- if you give me
one page of your care preferences,
I will personally buy you that box
of floral truffles," Dr. Bloch offered.
"It would make me less worried,
and a lot more hopeful."

Dr. G's eyebrows went up.
"That's a handsome offer."

Shiv hadn't seen a price, but
he knew it couldn't be cheap.
"I dunno ..." he said.

"Either or both of us could help you
fill out the paperwork," said Dr. G.

Help. Not make up their own answers,
or leave him floundering on his own, but
give him a hand with the hard part so that
he could work through it. If this was real.

Shiv ... wished it was real. Maybe.

"Yeah, okay," he said. "Not now,
because my brain is full, but later."

"Agreed," said Dr. Bloch.

"Shiv? What do you think would
help the relationship?" asked Dr. G.

"I just really wish people would
listen to me," Shiv said again.

"I promise to put more effort into
my communication skills," said Dr. Bloch.
"I'm sure that Dr. G or Ambrose could help me
with that part. I apologize for paying attention
to your physical symptoms while ignoring you.
Will you forgive me, and give me another chance?"

Shiv thought about all the times when people
had fucked him over and walked away without
a word. He thought about how Dr. Bloch was
pretty much the first doctor who listened to him
even sometimes and had actually helped. He
remembered standing outside the infirmary and
wishing it had gone better. Maybe this would
help pick loose the knot in his chest.

"Yeah," Shiv said, and held out a hand.

Dr. Bloch shook it, his grip gentle
and confident. "Thank you," he said.

"Is there anything that you would
like to add, Shiv?" asked Dr. G.

"I'm not good at ... I was just ...
I didn't like how it went and I hope
it goes better," Shiv said lamely.

Dr. Bloch seemed to guess what Shiv
was stumbling around trying to say.
"I forgive you for being difficult when
you felt bad," the doctor said.

That was weird, but kind of nice.

"All right, let's end on that high note,"
said Dr. G. "Start picking up your stuff."

The table was covered with worksheets
in various stages of completion, regular
and pastel pencils, and Shiv's popper.
Carefully they boxed up the pencils
and then sorted out which of
the papers belonged to whom.

"Could I keep the Ten of Swords?"
Dr. Bloch asked Shiv, tilting a hand
at the grim illustration. "You can say no,
it's yours, but I would love to have it."

"Why would you want it?" Shiv said.

"To remind myself to be careful
with my authority -- and that people
get hurt when I'm not," said Dr. Bloch.

Shiv hesitated. Dr. Bloch seemed
to mean it, but that picture could
get Shiv in a lot of trouble.

"Can I think it over?" he asked.

"Yes, of course," said Dr. Bloch.
"Just let me know, either way."

"In the meantime, I can keep it
with your other therapy materials,"
Dr. G said, holding out a hand.

Shiv handed him the page, and
then realized that he wasn't as
uneasy about letting Dr. G have it
as he was about Dr. Bloch, even
though he'd known Dr. Bloch longer.

He just felt like Dr. G was someone
that he could lean on without
getting dumped on his ass.

That thought ached when Shiv poked at it,
like picking on a scab, and so he tried
to push it to the back of his mind.

Despite not getting to keep the picture,
Dr. Bloch helped clean up the table,
which was nice in terms of Shiv not
getting stuck with all of the work.

They said their goodbyes, or
more precisely the other men
said theirs and Shiv mumbled his,
because he was about at the end of
his rope and not good at social stuff.

Mr. Vanburen came to walk Shiv
back to his cell. "Looks like you
won your bet," the guard said.

"Yeah," Shiv said, showing his candy.

"I saw Dr. Bloch," said Mr. Vanburen.
"I hope you two have made up."

"I think so?" Shiv said. "Some of it
we're still working on, but we
want to try making things right.
We shook hands on it."

"Then good job," said Mr. Vanburen
as he unlocked the heavy door.

Alone in his cell, Shiv put his stuff away,
then lay down on his bed. He didn't feel like
bundling up in his blanket, just ran a hand over
the soft surface of it. Finally he could relax.

Everything wasn't fixed, but it was --
for once in his life -- getting better.

* * *

Notes:

Donovan O'Dearg -- He has fair skin that sunburns easily and brown eyes. His curly brown hair reaches to his collar, with a full beard and mustache just beginning to go gray around his mouth. Many of his relatives are redheads. He may look like a teddy bear, but he has a feisty temper if provoked. His heritage is Irish, with his ancestors coming from Dunbulloge. In college, he roomed with Dr. Niles Bloch. Although Donovan completed a medical degree, he found that he preferred herbalism to conventional remedies, so he switched his focus. An enthusiastic bohemian, he also believes a lot of things that are variable in truth.
Qualities: Master (+6) Herbalist, Master (+6) Bohemian, Expert (+4) Constitution, Expert (+4) Naturalistic Intelligence, Expert (+4) Trustworthy, Good (+2) Animal Handling, Good (+2) Divination, Good (+2) Cook, Good (+2) Doctor, Good (+2) Making Friends
Poor (-2) Superstitious

* * *

"I want to try making things right because picking up the pieces is way better than leaving them the way they are."
-- Simone Elkeles

This room is suitable for small group meetings, up to about ten or twelve people. It is reasonably comfortable without being luxurious. It's also used as spillover for smaller meetings if the other rooms are full or people want a good-sized table. This room is used most often by standard wing inmates, although it's accessible to private wing inmates, just not cheap.

Licorice allsorts contain a mix of different candies. You can buy them in small bags. Making them at home may prove more challenging, although I did find recipes for basic licorice candy and for licorice caramels.

Among the worksheets Shiv has to explore are problem analysis, trigger-response, the freaking-out dudes, anger map, thought-feeling-behavior, pros and cons of acting on impulse, understanding the problem, problem-solving grid, problem-solving path, problem-solving steps, goals and priorities, problem spiral, and structured problem-solving. Thinking Wallet Worksheets help to illustrate a plan.

One of Dr. Bloch's gifts to Shiv is a fidget toy, a gizmo that feels like popping bubble wrap. It is actually made by Maneki Neko and is a tech toy from Kaeru.

Fresh start is the practice of working with people in the moment, without carrying a long trail of all the stuff they've done before. It's pretty much a prerequisite for fixing a messed-up life, because troubled people often lack the resources to dig their way out -- even if they want to -- as long as other people keep blaming them for past mistakes. It is also crucial for people dealing with resistant youth. Shiv doesn't actually have Oppositional Defiance Disorder, although that's on the long list of labels people have tried to saddle him with. He just has different goals than what people want him to have, which naturally creates opposition. It is only legitimately a disorder if the person cannot cooperate in pursuit of their own goals. There are tips on giving each day a fresh start.

Keeping score in a relationship has pros and cons. Healthy relationships require a certain give-and-take. You do not have to give the same things as you get, and the flow may shift over time as one or the other person faces hardships, but overall you should have a roughly equal exchange of energy and the relationship should make your life better instead of worse. Consider a relationship like a bank account: your positive actions are deposits, and your negative actions are withdrawals. Shiv can't understand complex interpersonal dynamics yet, but he can understand favor-trading.

Child abuse/neglect tends to leave lasting damage. Shiv shows signs of damaged emotions. Some people feel that they are too broken to recover, but there is a difference between damaged and damaged beyond repair. One way people become damaged beyond repair is that they incorporate that into their identity; another is simply that some mental injuries are too severe to heal completely, just as some physical ones are. Understand how to develop healthy relationships when you come from a broken family and how successful people handle toxic people.

Feeling unheard is a common and frustrating experience. It can happen for many reasons.  In health care, being ignored is miserable at best and fatal at worst.  Abuse survivors who were ignored may have lingering effects in adulthood. Know what to do when you feel like people don't listen to you and how to validate other people too.

Medical abuse happens when health workers neglect or mistreat their clients, causing harm. This can affect anyone, but is most common among women and other disadvantaged groups. Black people resist participating in medical studies due to egregious violations in the past, which is nearly identical to the situation in Terramagne for soups. Care of prisoners is routinely terrible in local-America; it is considerably better in T-America but still not ideal. Medical abuse, bullying, manipulation, and other violations of agency tend to make people sicker. This naturally erodes trust. There are tips for resisting abuse, but they presuppose many things -- such as the freedom to choose your doctor and the chance to make decisions about your care -- which many people do not have and which are ignored in most forms of abuse. People with chronic conditions may choose to become expert patients, and much the same applies to soups or other people whose bodies are simply different. It is crucial for health workers to practice empathy and empowerment with their clients. Here are more detailed instructions on how caregivers can support people in taking charge of their own health. Again, T-America does much better than L-America but still has a ways to go. They take a much more proactive approach to public and personal health, which means less work for caregivers. But those are learned skills, and like a lot of other stuff, Shiv missed most of that.

Apologies need several parts to be effective. Things will inevitably go wrong between people, and you need to understand how to repair your relationships. Here is an example from the kink community. If you look closely, you can tell that Dr. Bloch is thinking along exactly those lines, although Shiv doesn't know it. Follow the steps to earn back broken trust.

The later batch of worksheets includes self-image, friendship triangle, a blank triangle, rotten friendship, points of view, argument bubbles, thought bubble, and making up.

Trauma-informed care is essential for troubled youth like Shiv in order to avoid compounding the damage. Dr. Bloch's training and experience focuses on medical contexts, which means outside that, doesn't always know how to generalize his skills in this regard. Dr. G's training is broader, and cleaning up after traumatic stress is part of a counselor's regular work. Here's a whole batch of tipsheets about how to care for traumatized people. This kind of skillset appears more widely in T-America due to teaching emotional first aid, but most people don't get beyond the basics, and traumatized people need a higher level of care than that.

Lavender is soothing and cleansing; some people also like the flavor. Alas, I could not find anyone making lavender white chocolate bars in L-America, so you'll have to make your own.

Many edible flowers are used in making sweets. Examples include lavender white chocolate almond truffles, violet truffles, lilac chocolate truffles, chamomile truffles, chocolate hibiscus truffles, and rose-infused chocolate truffles. Here is a general recipe for edible flower truffles, raw herbal truffles with mixed flowers, and other types of floral candies. You can also buy floral truffles. No wonder Shiv caved in.

This is the feedback form with space for drawing or writing. Feedback and criticism allow people to refine their skills. You can reliably identify adept people from their persistence in seeking feedback so they can improve. Know how to request, accept, and use constructive criticism.

The 10 of Swords is well known among Tarot practitioners as a sign of ultimate disaster.

Children's art can be disturbing, especially when children are upset. This may reveal violence at home. Children are often punished for artwork which offends adults, which can lead to repression of emotions. This has happened to Shiv so often that it's made him reluctant to share anything about himself, ever, and he wavers between a fear of punishment and deliberately making trouble. Talking about violent art is a much healthier response. Children need help to learn constructive ways of expressing their emotions. Just as important, adults must ensure that those methods work, because if misbehavior is the only thing that works, that is exactly what children will do. It's why Dr. G and Dr. Bloch take such care in pointing out, not only how to solve problems in better ways, but how well those methods are working. Artwork is one way to express and heal negative emotions about traumatic experiences. Here are some expressive activities to try.

Tarot is a type of divination using cards. Most people think of this as predicting the future through magic, but it can also work as a psychological tool for exploring the past or present. It certainly made Dr. Bloch pay more attention to Shiv's drawing and, therefore, the underlying conflicts.

A hand exerciser facilitates exercises of various muscle actions for stress relief and manual health. Dr. Bloch has the black extra-firm one. It helps Shiv to see that other people use the techniques they recommend to him, and that people aren't just trying to find ways of making a crook leave them alone.

Morality is a complex topic, but studies suggest that even animals can understand some of it, such as distinguishing between deliberate and accidental harm. Child abuse often impairs moral development. However, Shiv can still understand that a doctor who screws up and tries to fix it is preferable to one who doesn't care about hurting people.

Sarcasm is a painful way of communicating. It has benefits and consequences. Shiv's habitual snarkiness is partly innate and partly learned from a poor conversational environment. Know how to be sarcastic or stop being sarcastic. It's a useful tool if you can choose when to do it, but often troublesome if automatic.

Hostile language is a complex problem that can happen for different reasons. A key reason is when people don't know any other way to communicate. If they decide this isn't working for them, and have appropriate resources, they can learn new skills that work better and hurt less. While Shiv is a real sadist, and not always picky about legitimate targets, he doesn't currently have any other options because he grew up with crappy conversational models. Whether he chooses to add more tools to his box remains to be seen. Understand why and how to defend against verbal attacks. Those include the observation that some people do this to get attention, which definitely applies to Shiv too.

Communication skills facilitate effective interactions. There are posters and checklists for clear communication. T-America has these little social reminders plastered everywhere. You see them in quiet rooms, businesses, health care facilities -- anywhere that glitches often happen or people come for help. So that offers one way that people like Shiv can patch the gaps in their social skills. Learn to be a great conversationalist.

Five-finger communication offers a simple, straightforward set of steps for talking about conflicts. It uses a manual mnemonic which appeals to small children and touch-dominant people. A blank hand graphic encourages people to use this kind of mnemonic by writing or drawing on it. Now think about how many of Shiv's bad habits came after he got smacked away from better ones.

Relationship worksheets include conversation magnets and working together skills.

In the gym, a spotter helps you do exercises safely. In personal growth, an emotional spotter helps you stretch your limits without hurting yourself or others. Similar rules apply to doing both: Agree on a mutual goal, accept responsibility for assisting someone's safety, pay close attention, communicate clearly, and provide backup as needed. Know how to tell if someone is struggling and might need help. T-America has a lot more education about what to watch for and how to help, so that small problems don't turn into emergencies.

A WRAP is an advance plan for handling personal problems. Originally developed for mental issues, it can be applied to physical ones or any other recurring issue that makes your life difficult and would benefit from forethought or assistance. It can be as simple or complex as you need. Here's a three-page crisis safety plan. A WRAP Workbook has the advantage of letting you fill out just the pages you want, skip what you don't, and add anything not already covered. It can be as short as one page, which is about all Shiv can handle yet. Like Ansel and Ethan trying to help Turq, Dr. Bloch and Dr. G are pretty desperate for input from Shiv regarding what helps and what doesn't, so they don't hurt him out of sheer ignorance. It's hard on everyone because Shiv's past experiences have shattered his ability to trust anyone with that kind of information.

Roleplaying is a useful technique for psychological work. It can produce startling realizations, especially if you play out different choices or solutions to see how they might develop. Here are some ways to use roleplaying and simulations. You can find sample scenarios for use in class or other groups. Learn how to use roleplaying effectively.

Child abuse not only damages people by violating their boundaries so they come to expect that, it also undermines their ability to notice and respect other people's boundaries. Therefore, caring for abuse survivors must include respecting their choices while helping them to establish healthier boundaries. Trying to force people doesn't work. There are better ways to respond when someone doesn't want help. You can show respect for them, and support their decision-making process if they are struggling. Survivors can't recover if people keep violating their boundaries, and people who misbehave can't learn better if they never see healthier examples. Every time the authorities harass Shiv, they are reinforcing the broken worldview that drives him to make trouble and which they should be trying to replace with something better.

Leveling is a type of straightforward conversation which appears in mature communication. Shiv pretty much reserves it as a last resort for when he is desperate, but that also makes it a useful gauge of his mood.

Behavior is communication. In order to replace a troublesome form of communication with a heathier one, it must be effective, or the person will sensibly refuse to use it and stick with what actually works. Best of all is when people can agree on mutual goals and seek methods of communication which support those. This is the kind of crappy "reflection worksheet" that Shiv is familiar with, which doesn't address needs and puts all the blame on the targeted student. Thus it doesn't work.

Thinking it over and taking time to think are important life skills. There are ways to teach good thinking skills.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-08-19 08:17 am (UTC)
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] alatefeline
Following this strand with interest; going to save further comments for another time. But much love for Shiv.

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2016-08-19 08:38 am (UTC)
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] alatefeline
:)

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2016-08-20 04:23 am (UTC)
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
From: [personal profile] mdlbear
Poor kid, indeed. Needing help and not even knowing enough about oneself to know that you need it, let alone how to ask for it -- that's rough.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-08-19 10:33 am (UTC)
gingicat: drawing of me based on wedding photo (Default)
From: [personal profile] gingicat
My child is in a well-reputed Community-Based Acute Treatment house right now. The adults surrounding her are rather like a more-educated (on emotional needs) Dr. Bloch. It's helping her a lot.

One thing that keeps the adults stable is that (a) they are all pretty young and (b) they work shifts of a length appropriate to their own mental health needs.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-08-19 03:16 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I'm so happy with how Dr. Bloch approaches with a "fresh start" mentality. Another great bit of the Shiv arc. Thanks!

(no subject)

Date: 2016-08-19 03:47 pm (UTC)
technoshaman: Tux (Default)
From: [personal profile] technoshaman
white chocolate and lavender... I forget. Did I give you that idea? or did you come up with it elsewhere? (That just happens to be my favourite coffee drink, when I can get it...)

OTOH, Shiv can have my licorice. *shiver* Dif'rent strokes...

Re: Hmm...

Date: 2016-08-25 05:58 am (UTC)
stardreamer: Meez headshot (Default)
From: [personal profile] stardreamer
Heh. I'm the person who will eat all the black jellybeans that nobody else wants, but not for the same reason as Shiv. I've always liked licorice; I love Good 'n' Plenty, and I've had to monitor myself around the Helsinki bid tables because they tend to have the GOOD stuff and I don't want to be greedy.

OTOH, he can have my entire share of anything with either lavender or rose in it. Especially rose -- it gets in the back of my throat and I wind up tasting it for hours. I've learned to be very careful about pastille candies at weddings; most of them are mint, which is fine, but sometimes they're rose instead.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-08-19 05:22 pm (UTC)
redsixwing: Picture shows a red-winged angel staring at a distant blue star. (Default)
From: [personal profile] redsixwing
I'm very interested in this thread.

I'm going to reserve detailed comment for now, on account of not reading yesterday's poem yet - but I'd like to get there, so hopefully, soon.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-08-19 07:19 pm (UTC)
fyreharper: (Default)
From: [personal profile] fyreharper
So proud of Shiv here!

(no subject)

Date: 2016-08-19 09:43 pm (UTC)
thnidu: my familiar. "Beanie Baby" -type dragon, red with white wings (Default)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
Inch by inch, and sometimes step by step.

• "Yeah, okay," he said. "Not now,
because my brain is full, but later."
> This seems to me like a big step forward for Shiv: not saying a flat NO to something he's not prepared to handle just now, and actually saying "Yeah, okay" for later, and meaning it.


• "The Ten of Swords," Dr. Bloch said.
"That's quite a good rendition there.
What's your favorite interpretation?
Betrayal? Hitting rock bottom?
Total disaster? Something else?"

"What card?" Shiv said blankly

> Nobody else said "card", and Shiv doesn't know about the Tarot(s). This needs a bit of fix.


•"Like a winter heart attack from someone
shoveling too much snow," Dr. Bloch said.
"Sudden, unaccustomed effort builds up
enough to cause a systemic collapse."
> Stopped me right there for a couple of minutes. My father... pretty close.



Edited Date: 2016-08-19 09:44 pm (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2016-08-20 03:59 am (UTC)
zeeth_kyrah: A glowing white and blue anthropomorphic horse stands before a pink and blue sky. (Default)
From: [personal profile] zeeth_kyrah
Oppositional Defiant Disorder is NOT real as far as I care to say. It indicates someone either forced to deny who they really are, or someone who is blocked from their (rather insistent) life calling.

And whoever the blockage is, or is caused by, had better get out of the fucking way when it starts to crack. Because when it goes, it goes KABOOM if the pressure doesn't ease off properly.

Resistance to authority starts with not being listened to or respected in some vital aspect of the self. If you change your own behavior to give respect there, the so-called disorder generally melts away as fast as snow under a blowtorch.

YAAAY

Date: 2016-08-20 11:38 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Shiv's making PROGRESS! Gold Star to Dr. G! and to Shiv! and to Dr. Bloch!

I like that Dr. Bloch is getting a bit more insight into the
negative situation-->trust+risk~ IMMEDIATE DAMAGE/ reaction+backlash= SAD SAD FOR EVERYONE (Shiv gets screwed over)

equation that Shiv's grown up with, he needed to see even the tiny glimpse he got!

AND YAY FOR THE FRESH START METHOD!!!! WOOOT DR. BLOCH!!!

(no subject)

Date: 2016-08-25 06:43 am (UTC)
stardreamer: Meez headshot (Default)
From: [personal profile] stardreamer
The whole "soap" conversation is making me angry. "Bathroom buffet"... "Not on purpose"... and how the HELL does he know what floor cleaner tastes like? Give me just 10 minutes alone with those people and a riding crop...

Seconding that there seems to be a line or two missing from the "10 of Swords" section, and it throws the reader off.

Overall, this was a difficult but ultimately rewarding read, because it feels like it was a difficult but ultimately rewarding session for all of them. Dr. Graham is a very good mediator!

It's really unfortunate that Dr. Bloch hasn't had much training in the area of EFA; that would have helped a lot in the initial incident. And I think this session was very good for him in that he's gotten a lot more insight into (1) just how badly Shiv's background has fucked him up, and (2) where he was making assumptions about Shiv being like most of his patients that were contributing to the problem. He's used to people with poor backgrounds; he's not used to people with WRECKED backgrounds, and there's a big difference.

And I agree that this is a big step forward for Shiv; even if he had to be carefully coaxed to the water, once he was there he was willing to take a drink. I'm beginning to think that "abused but not broken horse" is a pretty good metaphor for Shiv.

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