|Disclaimer: Paramount owns all things Star Trek Voyager. I don’t. Only borrowing
them. Etc. Etc. Etc.
Summary: Kathryn reaches breaking point and copes with her inner pain, guilt and
loneliness by self-injury. When Chakotay discovers her secret, he and
the Doctor come together to help her overcome it and get her through.
NOTE: This story involves the subject of self-injury and for this reason only I have
given it the NC 17 rating. I have tried to ensure that the facts contained
within are as accurate as possible and most have come from people who live
with this but if any offence is caused, it is not intended and I apologize.
There is no shame involved with this subject. Sufferers are as sane as you
and I. They just deal with their emotions differently.
See also note at end of story.
OUT OF DARKNESS INTO LIGHT.
Within five minutes, Kathryn began to stir and Chakotay stood up and leaned over her, still holding her hand. Slowly her eyes fluttered open and he saw her fight to focus and eventually look to him.
“Hey there, welcome back.” He saw her confusion as she tried to slot her memories into place and watched her emotions reflect in her eyes as it all came back to her.
“What…what time is it…how long…?” She tried weakly to pull her hand from his but failed.
“It’s about 1300 hours. Actually you’ve been here for several days, in fact this is the fifth day.” He saw her shock and he pushed on. “The Doctor healed your cut and says you can return to your quarters in a little while provided you have someone nurse you and that’s me.” He smiled at her and saw that for just a moment she thought she had gotten away with it. He decided to be straight with her.
“Kathryn, I know what you’ve been doing.” He saw the fright in her eyes. “The Doc said you were malnourished and very anaemic but he’s taken care of that.” He saw her eyes change as guilt and shame filled them.
“Kathryn, it’s all right. I know, the Doctor and Tuvok know but that’s it and it stays that way and there will never be anything in the logs regarding this. You have to believe that you have nothing to be ashamed of here or embarrassed about. There is no shame here. What we need to do now is help you get better.” Kathryn finally managed to pull her hand away from his hold and rolled her head to the side away from him. He barely managed to hear her words.
“I’m sorry…you must think terrible things of me…that I’m mad or…” Chakotay pulled her head back to him.
“Kathryn, I don’t think any differently about you now than I did before. That you cut and bled yourself is a completely separate issue. It has nothing to do with our friendship and it never will.” He saw the faint stirring of hope in her eyes. “You need to get well and I just want to help you with that. Talk to me, help me understand why you needed to find a release this way, help me help you to find an alternative. Let me be there for you the way you’ve been there for me so many times.” She tried smiling and failed.
“Why would you want to do that for me? You must think terrible things…” He leaned closer and pushed her hair back from her face.
“I want to do this because you’re my friend and because I love you.” He saw her surprise. “What, you didn’t know that?” She smiled shyly and nodded.
“I guessed that maybe once…” He stroked her cheek.
“Still Kathryn, I still love you and always will. As to what I think, well I told you. It’s because you need a bit of help and friends help each other. Know this though, you are not mad, crazy or insane. You’re not deranged or out of your mind. I’ve been reading up on this and what you did is called a ‘coping mechanism’. I’ll explain it more to you later and let you see what I’ve been reading. You’re also not the first person to do this and you won’t be the last. Kathryn, you’ll get through this but you have to stop, do you understand? You also have to want to stop. It’ll take time to work through everything but we have plenty of that. I just want you to let me be there for you, let me help you. Will you do that?” Her tears filled her eyes now and fell as she nodded. Chakotay just stroked her face again and smiled. “I’ll just see the jailor about getting you out of here and then you can go home. I just hope you can put up with me around you all the time.” She tried smiling again but ended up crying more. “Kathryn, just…one more thing first…I don’t want you thinking that me staying with you is… well I’m there to help, nothing else. This is not because I don’t trust you OK? If you want to kick me out, you can.” He saw her finally find a smile and he squeezed her hand. “I’ll be back in a minute.”
Kathryn lay back, her thoughts swirling around. She couldn’t believe what Chakotay had just said. She was sure she’d have seen disgust and horror on his face, at the least a certain amount of shock but there had just been support and concern. The fact that he seemed to be playing the whole matter down, that he accepted it, helped her enormously and she felt a little hope for the first time since all this had started.
Over the next week, Chakotay was a rock for Kathryn as he applied all he had learned to the situation and acted upon the Doctor’s advice. Kathryn only cut herself once after she returned to her quarters. Chakotay had found her in the bathroom but had said nothing as he helped her heal the injury. He held her as she cried afterwards, giving her his love and support and never mentioned it again. It was what she needed and she gained strength from it.
Within a few days, they discovered that Kathryn wasn’t as addicted to cutting and bleeding herself as they had thought and the Doctor’s earlier hopes started to bear fruit. Chakotay talked with Kathryn well into the early hours most nights and she slowly began to open up to him, as he began to fill some of the emptiness she felt. He discovered that the feelings she had experienced, her guilt and loneliness, her emptiness and anger, all the negative emotions she felt, all had a basis somewhere, that they weren’t imagined in any way. Most could be traced to something which could be rectified.
“Chakotay, I can’t really describe it all or even how it started. All right, I know the night it started.” She smiled at him and told him how she had slipped with the broken glass and the feelings which had come over her.
“I felt dead inside, as if there was nothing in my life and suddenly seeing my own blood like that…it was like…proof that I was alive.” She looked to him embarrassed but saw only understanding written on his face. “It was the greatest feeling of relief, like being hot and having cool water poured over me or…I don’t know but I felt better for it. Anyway, I came out of it and attended the Doctor and he fixed me up.” She twisted the corner of the cushion she held. “I told myself it was just an experiment when I tried it again, just to see if I’d imagined it all but it was the same. It just felt like…letting the pressure out, like all inside me would explode and this let the steam out. Sometimes I had all this pain inside and feeling it on the outside helped me. Other times I’d feel nothing at all and when I cut, then I’d feel the pain but it was better than feeling nothing at all. I guess I could make the pain show or something, that I could feel it on the outside and deal with it there.” She looked back at Chakotay and he just nodded for her to continue.
“If I had feelings on the inside, the outside pain would drown them out and…oh Chakotay, I’m not sure I understand any of this at all. It feels like it just happened and I had no control over it. One day I was feeling bad and the next I’d found something to help it, even if it was only for a short time. I knew it was wrong but it just felt so good and it became stronger than I was and I felt that at least I was accomplishing something for myself in a life I felt I had no control over. Can you understand any of this?” He reached for her hand and held it.
“The more I did it, the less physical pain I felt but watching the blood was…I don’t know what to call it. I just know how much better I felt after it. I think there was an element of punishment about it too, that as I’d caused so much pain to this crew, I should feel some as well. Afterwards I would feel almost reborn but it never lasted long and so… Oh I’d feel disgusted about myself afterwards but that was nothing to what I felt before. I knew it was wrong and thought it was sick even but I still did it. I always though that people who did this should be locked away and I wondered how I’d reached this point but the urge would be there to just feel something or drown out the other pain and so…it would happen again and again…” She looked to him with tears in her eyes. Chakotay smiled softly and squeezed her hand again.
“Do you still feel the urge or the need to cut yourself?” He saw her think about this.
“Not as much and I haven’t as you know since that one time and I think that was because I was afraid of what I had to face and afraid I couldn’t do it…and I was still embarrassed and ashamed but you didn’t show anger or disappointment in me and it gave me a strength and a will to try harder…and having you here…talking and other distractions…” Chakotay frowned.
“Kathryn love, I’m not on guard duty you know. I just want to be here to help and support you.” She squeezed his hand.
“I know that and I didn’t mean…” She reached down and pulled her sleeve up, showing him the band she’d placed there. “In the last week, I’ve only snapped it four times.” She smiled and bit her lip. “I’ve only used the red ice twice but it helped. I feel as if seeing it running away, the blood or the red colouring…it’s like the pain flowing out of me…like water from a faucet…” Chakotay nodded and smiled. He’d known she had used the ice but hadn’t mentioned it to her, letting her tell him if she wanted to. “I always felt so calm afterwards, the way I think I should feel all the time.” Chakotay reached over and stroked her cheek and she let him.
“How do you usually feel, Kathryn?” She frowned and looked down at their joined hands.
“Empty, depressed, alone, guilty even. Things happen to us and I’m afraid I won’t be able to cope with them, that I’ll let you all down or get you killed. I know it’s my fault that we’re all here in the first place and I feel so guilty over that. I feel life passing me by and I’ve no one to… I guess I always thought I’d be married at this stage in my life, at least have someone, have a child… I feel alienated from everyone because I feel I have to be and if I don’t stand back, they won’t respect me or…I feel I’ve failed you all and failed myself too…other times I just feel numb or totally dead inside and I don’t know which is worse…then I can feel so angry that all this has happened to me and I want to lash out but as I’m to blame, I lash out at myself and blame myself for the mess I see myself in…I miss my home, my family and friends, my dog even…I miss having someone to come home to…I miss friendship and someone to hold me…and I miss…well I miss sex even…although I think that’s more the closeness I miss…” She looked up, suddenly embarrassed but Chakotay was just staring at her, a look of deep sadness on his face. She saw tears in his eyes and felt her own fill up. Without any warning, he leaned over and pulled her into his arms, hugging her tightly and she gloried in it, savoured it as he embraced her and cocooned her to him. She let her tears go and for the first time, it felt good and she experienced relief from them instead of seeing her own blood. They clung to each other for a long time, each giving way to their tears and drawing comfort from the other.
That proved to be the biggest turning point for Kathryn and she improved from that night on. Tuvok helped her with meditation and she took up painting again. She visited the holodecks and found ways to relieve her tension though sports and other fitness programs. Sometimes, she’d just swim at the beech or walk through woodland to relax and slowly she learned to experience a great calmness from these instead of cutting herself. She regained her appetite and began to enjoy food. Talking nightly with Chakotay helped her deal with her feelings of guilt and her fear that she couldn’t cope or wasn’t good enough and she slowly began to learn to like herself and accept that she didn’t run the ship alone. She came to accept what was and move on from it and she began to interact with the crew more, visiting Sandrine’s in the evenings and no one questioned why she was off duty. Friendships developed in the strangest of places and she discovered shared interests with some crewmembers she’d never considered before. The more she opened up to them, the more they came.
One night as she lay back against Chakotay, she talked to him about all this. He brought a smile to her face when he told her he had a story for her.
“Another ancient legend?” She smiled and remembered how good it had been back then on New Earth and how different things could have been if she had just made different decisions then but using her newly found thought processes, she put it aside and concentrated on the now.
“No, this is just a story. It’s about a farmer who slaved away to protect his crops using scarecrows and so on but he was very lonely. One day, he decided to take down the scarecrows and invite all the birds and animals onto his land. He stood in the field all day, his arms in the air, calling to them all but not one bird or one animal came near him. They were afraid you see, of the farmer’s new scarecrow.” Kathryn bit her lip and choked back a sob. “Just let your arms down Kathryn and they’ll all come to you. I think you’ve just discovered that. We’re all a team here on this ship. I told you before and I’ll tell you again. You are not alone here and I don’t just mean with me. Every crewmember is there for you personally and professionally and I think you see that now. I think you can also see that you’ve probably gained even more respect from them than you ever had before if that’s possible.” Kathryn sniffled and nodded. She looked up and smiled at him then held up her arm and snapped the elastic band. When she saw his puzzled expression, she laughed.
“Not that. I just wanted to make sure I’m not dreaming.” Chakotay roared and pulled her to him and they lay together for a long time, finally drifting off to sleep together.
The next time Kathryn saw the Doctor when he called on her, he informed her that he was delighted with her progress and told her that she could finish her sessions with him now if she felt ready but that he was always available if or when she ever needed him. Kathryn thanked him and told him she felt she was ready for that step but that she’d continue with Chakotay.
“I should imagine you won’t need him much longer either. You can finally have your quarters to yourself again.” He turned his back and didn’t see that almost panicked look that crossed Kathryn’s face. The thought of Chakotay returning to his own quarters hadn’t occurred to her and she’d grown to love having him with her. Now suddenly she had to face being alone again, even if only in her own rooms and she found it terrified her.
When the Doctor left, Kathryn stood in the centre of the room and heard only silence and it consumed her. Without warning, some of her old feelings returned to her and she paced up and down, trying to calm herself. It came to her now that she had grown dependent on having Chakotay with her and she wondered if she had really come that far at all, if she had only traded one addiction for another. Taking deep breaths, she fought to control the urge to cut herself and made for the replicator instead and ordered some red ice. As she watched it materialize in front of her, her mind cleared and the truth hit her. The reason she didn’t want Chakotay to leave was because she was in love with him, that her dependency on him wasn’t a fear of not being able to cope on her own but about not wanting to. The ice forgotten, she wandered towards her bedroom, this new discovery overwhelming her and sat heavily on the edge of the bed. Her tears came and she let them.
When Chakotay returned a little later, he entered quietly and looked around for Kathryn. His eyes were drawn to the replicator and he saw the container of red ice sitting there. Worried, he made his way towards the other room and found Kathryn still sitting on the side of the bed, tears streaming down her face. She jumped when she saw him, a look of panic on her face. Chakotay hid his disappointment well and approached her.
“Kathryn love, what happened? I saw the ice and… I thought the Doctor was calling on you today…” She nodded and he saw her look away embarrassed. She stood quickly and tried to push past him but he blocked her. “Kathryn, what happened? Did he upset you or something? Talk to me.” He refused to let her past no matter how hard she pushed.
“I…I’m all…all right…I didn’t do it…I fought it…” She struggled weakly against him.
“Kathryn, it’s all right. You’ll get through this. The fact that you went for the ice over anything else shows that and then to resist even that... I’m so proud of you. Kathryn please, it’s all right. Just tell me why you felt the need.” She stopped pushing against him and hid her face.
“It wasn’t…it’s nothing…he just reminded me… please Chakotay…” He grabbed her by the shoulders.
“No Kathryn, we’ve come too far these last few weeks. I know it’ll take longer than that but we’ve made wonderful progress. The Doctor told me he thinks you’re ready to finish with him and that you won’t need me for much longer…” He saw her turn away quickly at his words, still hiding her face and suddenly it all slammed home with him.
“Oh Kathryn sweetheart, is that it? That is it, isn’t it?” She looked up at him and the sadness on her face tore at him. “Are you afraid you won’t be able to continue on your own? Kathryn, you’ve come so far with this and you’ll be fine. We’ve achieved so much and you’ve done so well and you won’t be alone…” He saw her shake her head.
“I got scared about something and then it scared me about why it was and I thought at first it was for one reason and then I realized it was for another one and while it’s better for me that way that it wasn’t the first, it still is and…” Chakotay moved her back towards the bed and sat them both down.
“Kathryn, I don’t understand what you’re saying. What scared you?” He tilted her chin up so he could see her face.
“I’m…I’m afraid…to tell you…and embarrassed and …I can’t…” Chakotay smiled softly at her, his thumb caressing her cheek.
“Honey, there’s nothing you can’t tell me or talk to me about. I love you and that won’t ever change.” He took a deep breath, determined to speak the words. “Look, I know what you said before about us and that there can’t be anything between us and I accept that from you but I can’t or won’t hide what I feel from you. I’ll always be here for you, right next door.” He saw the pain in her eyes and something clicked in his mind.
“Kathryn, you don’t think… You do. You think that because you don’t need me like that any more…oh Kathryn, you’re not going to lose me, I swear it. I’m not leaving you or deserting you.” He pulled her into his arms and kissed the side of her head. “I’ll only be next door. You’re not losing your friend.” Kathryn cried on his shoulder for several minutes and then pulled back, wiping at her own tears.
“Chakotay…I don’t…” She looked up and around her, tears and frustration on her face.
“Kathryn, I’ve told you that you can say anything to me. What is it? Please love…” She looked at him and drew in a deep breath.
“I…I don’t…want you to…” She ducked her head down again but he forced her to look at him.
“You don’t want me to what? Don’t want me to leave?” He found himself barely breathing. Kathryn just looked at him, her eyes swimming in her tears and nodded her head.
“I’m sorry Chakotay. I’m…you’ve done so much for me and now…I’m not being fair on you… When the Doctor said about me not needing you, I got scared. Then it scared me that I’d become dependent on you, maybe instead of…of what I’d been doing and that that was the reason but then…then I realized that it wasn’t and that …it was because I just didn’t want you to go because…because of…how I feel…about you and…” Chakotay’s face lit up.
“Kathryn Janeway, are you telling me you love me and want me to live with you?” When she saw his huge smile, she managed one of her own and nodded. “Are you sure?” Once again she nodded.
“I’m sure. I mean if you want and…it’s just these last weeks I’ve realized how much…” She laughed when she saw the expression on his face, like a child awaiting something previous. “I’ve realized just how much…how much I love you…that I probably have for a long time and…I either couldn’t admit it or…maybe too scared to…I mean I do think I could cope alone and that’s thanks to you and all…and I know you’ll always be my friend…but…I don’t want to be on my own and…I want more…want you…” The breath was squashed out of her as he pulled her to him and hugged her so tightly, she thought her ribs would crack.
“Oh Kathryn, I never thought I’d hear you say that. You’ve made me so happy.” She pulled away a bit.
“I’ve made you unhappy. I’ve wasted so much time. If I’d just made the right decision a year ago, none of this would have happened and I wouldn’t have caused you hurt and pain…” Chakotay pressed a finger to her lips.
“Kathryn, you can’t think like that. Looking back is no use to anyone. Surely that’s what you’ve learned most from all this. We all have regrets in our lives, about why we did this and not that, why we made one decision over another. The fact is that you weren’t ready or the time wasn’t right for you or us. You made what you felt was the right decision at the time with what you saw before you. None of us can see or know the future. We can try and plan for it but that’s all. Now, do you really want me to stay because I have to tell you, I’ve been trying to delay going. I mean I wanted you to be all right but the more you improved, I felt guilty for thinking that it was getting nearer to when I would have to leave you and…I’m sorry for how that sounds…” Kathryn pressed a finger to his lips now.
“No regrets, remember?” He nodded, tears suddenly filling his own eyes. Cupping her face gently, he studied her for a moment then leaned down and pressed his lips to hers. He heard a soft cry from her throat as she leaned into the kiss and felt her press herself to him, knowing that it had been a long time, too long, since she had been kissed or held this way. Their arms slipped around each other and Chakotay deepened the kiss. Kathryn clung to him, finding everything that had been missing from her life in his arms and felt as if she had finally come home.
As they lay in each others arms later, Kathryn studied the sleeping man beside her. The feelings which flowed through her were unmatched by anything she had ever known and for a brief moment, she looked back on what she had missed up to now but she quickly banished these thoughts. The future lay in her arms now, here in the present and that was what she would concentrate on. She knew there might be times in the future when the ghosts of the past months could come back to her but she felt she had an armour to protect her now, that even if this ceased some day, the memory of it would sustain her and nourish her. She had been strengthened by this man, by his love for her and the love she had for him and it filled her completely. Their love would always be a shield she carried, protecting her against whatever life threw at her. He had helped her become the person she was now and it would be as a testament to that love, that she would remain that person, for herself and for him.
Kathryn slipped quietly from the bed and recorded these thoughts while they were still so fresh with her. She glanced back through the earlier entries in the personal log she had kept throughout it all, which Chakotay had encouraged her to write and marvelled at how far they had come, how far she had come. She smiled softly and offered a silent prayer of thanks for whoever was listening and closed the entry. Later she would show Chakotay what she had written, would share this with him.
For now, she stood and walked back to the bed and slipped quietly back into Chakotay’s arms. She kissed the side of his face softly. “I love you.” He murmured in his sleep and tightened his arms around her. “I love you too”. Kathryn snuggled against him and slowly drifted off, finally at peace with herself and the world around her.
Without any understanding of self-injury, it might seem impossible that a woman like Kathryn Janeway would reach a point where she would self-injure, but it is most often women like her who are victims of this and I hope that has been made clear in the story. One of the most famous women who self-injured was the late Princess Diana. This subject, just like rape, incest and child abuse, is considered taboo by society and it is this attitude which causes victims to feel ashamed or embarrassed when they have no reason whatsoever to feel that way. Just like something hidden in a dark corner, the fear of what’s there goes away when you shine a light on it. The greatest problem is our own ignorance, probably the worst form of self-abuse there is.
From the point of view of this story and as a piece of fan fiction, Kathryn Janeway overcomes her problems in a short space of time and I in no way intended to give the impression that this can be dealt with in this manner.
If you are a sufferer, I urge you to seek help. There is no shame in this and you owe it to yourself. If you know someone who suffers, give them your love and support, the same as you’d want from them. Educate yourself and be the friend they need.
RETURN TO STORY INDEX ONE.
RETURN TO STORY INDEX TWO.