Transcript of 36th Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Ms. Sylvia Bows, Tuesday, April 22, 1997 at 4 pm.

Ms. Bows: Hello, Doctor. It's really nice to see you.
Dr. Balis: Hello, Sylvia. Rough week?
Ms. Bows: You can say that. God, my life is just such a mess.
Dr. Balis: Are you still feeling the repercussions of that stupid article?
Ms. Bows: That and Richard seems to be going on the talk-show circuit.
Dr. Balis: Richard?
Ms. Bows: Rene told me that she heard an interview with Richard on one of the local radio stations.
Dr. Balis: What did Richard have to say?
Ms. Bows: Rene only caught the very end of the interview, but apparently Richard was asked why he would want to file such a ridiculous law suit--everyone seems to understand that he has no chance of winning.
Dr. Balis: And?
Ms. Bows: Richard was saying something about his boys being raised in a loveless home. He said that he felt a moral obligation to try to save them.
Dr. Balis: Save them from their mother?
Ms. Bows: Look, Doctor, I don't know what Richard's agenda is. I lost track of his motivations long ago. But I swear there are times when I think that he might be right.
Dr. Balis: Right about what, Sylvia? You love your children. And Tom loves them too. What is Richard right about?
Ms. Bows: It's just that...I don't know, it's a feeling I get every now and then, that's all. It's a stupid feeling.
Dr. Balis: Do you want to talk about it a bit?
Ms. Bows: I don't even know if there is anything to talk about, Doctor.
Dr. Balis: Why don't we try. Can you describe this feeling?
Ms. Bows: It's like a panicky sensation. I feel terrified, but I don't know exactly why or what caused it.
Dr. Balis: When do you get these feelings?
Ms. Bows: At no particular time. They just flood over me and I try to shake them off as fast as I can before I drown in them. I hate feeling so much out of control.
Dr. Balis: So it's a panicky feeling associated with being out of control?
Ms. Bows: I guess so. You have to admit, Doctor, it's not like I have a full grip on what's going on with my life right now. When I try to cope with my problems, I feel like I'm trying to catch fleas with a plate--as soon as I turn around to get the next flea, the ones on the plate jump away. It just never ends!
Dr. Balis: Fleas--that's unusual imagery.
Ms. Bows: It's a recurring dream that I've been having for some time now. I hate fleas!
Dr. Balis: When did the dream start?
Ms. Bows: I'm not sure. Maybe around the time when the twins were born. I remember having the dream when we lived in the hospital's waiting room for that first week.
Dr. Balis: Let's talk more about being out of control. Do you feel that it's exclusively related to your current set of problems--the article, SII, Richard's lawsuit, your parents?
Ms. Bows: I think that that's enough to give nightmares to anyone, don't you?
Dr. Balis: It's a heavy load. But most of these problems will resolve themselves with time. The article will be old news before long. Richard's lawsuit is annoying but ultimately pointless, and it too will go away in the not too distant future. Your parents will forgive you. You said it yourself--they are too attached to the boys to allow their conception to be too much of an issue. And as your name leaves the public eye, their embarrassment in front of their neighbors will dissipate. And as for SII...I don't know. I guess you'll have to make the ultimate decision of whether you want to go back to work there or not. But if you do decide to go back--even there, after some initial period, things will settle down into a normal routine.
Ms. Bows: You make it all sound so inevitable.
Dr. Balis: I'm just trying to point out that things are not as bad you think they are. And with time, most of your problems will resolve themselves.
Ms. Bows: Hmm.
Dr. Balis: I'm not saying all your problems will go away by themselves. Your current situation with Tom will only be resolved through a lot of effort on the part of both of you.
Ms. Bows: That terrifies me the most, Doctor.
Dr. Balis: What?
Ms. Bows: Tom. I met him when I was very young, still in college. He became a part of me. There were times when I didn't know where I stopped and he began. It's like my consciousness expanded to include him in it. My thoughts and emotions, even my ultimate desires were completely immersed in him. When I think of it now, it really scares me, Doctor.
Dr. Balis: It scares you that you don't feel that way about him anymore or...
Ms. Bows: No, not that. What scares me is just how dependent I was on Tom, how completely I trusted him. Tom's influence spread over my whole adult life, pretty much. He was the one directing my career away from journalism and into the corporate world, for example.
Dr. Balis: You told me about resenting him for that.
Ms. Bows: At the time, I didn't even question it--Tom suggested doing it and I did it. Simple as that.
Dr. Balis: But you don't feel that way now?
Ms. Bows: I don't want to feel that way ever again, Doctor. I've lost the ability to experience ultimate love. And I think Tom knows it. That's what he wants from me.
Dr. Balis: What?
Ms. Bows: To give into him completely again. But I don't want to do that again. When I found out about Tom's vasectomy and how much he betrayed me, I thought my world was going to end. I felt like there was a giant wound ripped open in my stomach and I was bleeding to death. You saw me then, Doctor. You must remember.
Dr. Balis: I remember.
Ms. Bows: When I found out that I was going to be able to survive, I managed to squirrel away a piece of myself. I carefully nourished that piece and built protective walls around it. I vowed never to let anyone possess that piece. That piece is my security, my assurance of survival through the next crisis. When Rene's husband died, we all watched in horror as she slowly began to lose her mind.
Dr. Balis: But she eventually lived through that.
Ms. Bows: Robert saved her. Robert was part of him, and when he was born, Rene found in him a reason to continue. Robert saved her. But it was very close. It could have easily ended up with Rene losing her...I don't even want to think about that. You right, she lived through that and now her life is as normal as anyone else's. But I know that Rene is a much stronger person than I. I've always known that, even when we were children growing up together. I won't make it.
Dr. Balis: But you did make it. You lived through your loss and came out the other side with two sons and the possibility of a new relationship with Tom.
Ms. Bows: But I could never love him that way again.
Dr. Balis: You don't have to. Your love changed. It evolved. But it's still love, even though it feels different now. Don't you think?
Ms. Bows: I do believe that I love Tom. But I don't love him enough.
Dr. Balis: That's...
Ms. Bows: I could never let him get that close to me again. I could never love him with all of my being as I did before. I'm too afraid!
Dr. Balis: I don't think that Tom is asking you to abandon yourself to him. I think Tom just wants you to love him the way that you do. He is not asking you to give up that secret place to him.
Ms. Bows: I think he is. I think that's why he is hesitating to get close to me. That's why he won't make love to me. He knows that I will never be fully his again.
Dr. Balis: I hate to keep saying it, but time will help. If you allow yourself to love him as much as you feel you can, with time you might trust Tom enough to get closer to you.
Ms. Bows: With time we might get closer. But it will never be ultimate love. I will never experience that kind of love again. It's terrifying.
Dr. Balis: When you say it's terrifying, do you mean that type of love is terrifying or that it is terrifying that you won't experience it again?
Ms. Bows: Both.
Dr. Balis: I...
Ms. Bows: I think I would like to go now, Doctor. It's late anyway and, as always, I need to get home and feed the boys.
Dr. Balis: I would like to talk more about this, Sylvia. I don't think you...
Ms. Bows: Sure, Doctor. I'll see you next week.
Dr. Balis: Okay, as you wish. Goodbye, Sylvia.
Ms. Bows: Goodbye, Doctor.
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