Transcript of 48th Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Ms. Sylvia Bows, Tuesday, July 22, 1997 at 4:00 pm.

Dr. Balis: Hello, Sylvia.
Ms. Bows: Hello, Doctor Balis. What's going on?
Dr. Balis: What do you mean?
Ms. Bows: Doctor, I might be your patient and our sessions revolve around my problems. But I'm not blind. What's going on?
Dr. Balis: I didn't think it was that obvious.
Ms. Bows: It is to me.
Dr. Balis: My dad had a stroke.
Ms. Bows: Oh god! I'm very sorry. He's in New York, isn't he? Did you fly out to see him?
Dr. Balis: Yes. I got phone call from my mother on Tuesday night and I canceled all my appointments and...
Ms. Bows: Is he all right? Well, I mean...
Dr. Balis: Actually he is doing very well. They were in a restaurant when it happened. At first, my mother thought that he was choking on something. But then...I shouldn't be telling you any of this. I'm your doctor. Let's get back to you.
Ms. Bows: Charles, I consider you a lot more than a doctor. You've been a real friend. Your welfare and happiness actually mean a lot to me. I'm very sorry about your dad. And I'm worried about you. So please--I won't be able to talk to you about my problems while thinking that you're hurting inside and thinking about your dad.
Dr. Balis: Well, there's really not that much to tell.
Ms. Bows: Hmm.
Dr. Balis: Okay. I got to the hospital Wednesday afternoon. He was at Columbia Presbyterian in Manhattan--my old stomping grounds. When my mother called, I couldn't help but imagine the worst. I've seen lots of stoke victims and the idea...but he's okay.
Ms. Bows: Really?
Dr. Balis: It wasn't as bad as my mom thought. He's home already. He still has some weakness in his right arm, but other than that...he was very lucky.
Ms. Bows: Oh, Charles...
Dr. Balis: We were very lucky.
Ms. Bows: I know how you must have felt. When I found out about my mom's heart...excuse me. It was like a dream. Nothing felt real. I kept expecting myself to wake up and find everything back to normal. Even now, there are times when I look at her and see this tiny fragile woman who just doesn't match my internal image of mother in any way. I guess I'm trying to say that I'm sorry, in my own convoluted way. I'm glad your dad is okay.
Dr. Balis: Thank you.
Ms. Bows: If...
Dr. Balis: The feelings you've just described are pretty common. As children, people tend to think of their parents as invincible--they are big, strong, and always around. And it's important that these feeling are there--a child's survival depends on it. And while a child might not know or understand this intellectually, emotionally...
Ms. Bows: Charles, let go. You don't have to be a psychiatrist every moment of your life. I bet when you were in New York sitting with your mother in the hospital, you were still analyzing the situation. It's okay to be just upset or scared. Even if you are a doctor.
Dr. Balis: Hmm. You make a good therapist, Sylvia.
Ms. Bows: Thank you. It must have rubbed off. But seriously, why did you come back so soon? You're entitled to take time off. And in our whole year together, you never did take time off for vacation, did you?
Dr. Balis: No. But I have responsibilities to my patients...
Ms. Bows: I have responsibilities too. And you've been very encouraging--even insistent--that I blow them off and take time for myself and my family. Remember?
Dr. Balis: Yes, but...
Ms. Bows: I think we'll be fine, Doctor. As much as I and all your other patients need you, we'll all understand that you might need some time off for yourself.
Dr. Balis: Sylvia, I really appreciate your concern. I really do. But I...well, I did take time off last week and I would like to stop talking about this now.
Ms. Bows: Okay. I'm sorry, Doctor.
Dr. Balis: Sylvia, I didn't mean it the way it came out. I do appreciate your concern.
Ms. Bows: It's okay.
Dr. Balis: I'm lucky--my dad is fine. And I think all of this will make him take much better care of himself.
Ms. Bows: Good.
Dr. Balis: Now, how about you? Did you talk about taking time off with Tom?
Ms. Bows: Actually I did.
Dr. Balis: And?
Ms. Bows: Tom wasn't as enthusiastic about the idea as I thought he would be.
Dr. Balis: Why not?
Ms. Bows: Something about a project he's working on right now. He has to be around. So maybe next month...
Dr. Balis: I see.
Ms. Bows: He was very strange about it, though. Well, I don't know. I think I'm more sensitive to his mood changes. I've been noticing Tom get a lot more irritable and his sleeping problems are worse.
Dr. Balis: Did you talk to him about that?
Ms. Bows: He's blaming everything on this project. Personally, I think that this is about Beverly and his mom. Tom's relationship with his mom is very strained right now. She clearly blames him for Beverly's current situation and resents Tom for not taking her side and defending Beverly. And I know that Tom believes that Beverly's mental problems come from his mother's bigotry--if it wasn't for her, Beverly would still be married and probably have children.
Dr. Balis: You don't really know that.
Ms. Bows: No. But...
Dr. Balis: What do you think about Tom's mom in general?
Ms. Bows: You mean do I like her?
Dr. Balis: Do you?
Ms. Bows: No, not really. Although our relationship has always been very civil in the past. Things have changed now that she knows about Roald and Grant. But I'm supportive of Tom's efforts to maintain a close relationship with his parents, if that what you're really asking.
Dr. Balis: Does Tom have a close relationship with his parents?
Ms. Bows: It's more formal than it is close. But I believe that Tom loves his parents, and they do care about him in their own way.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Bows: When Tom married me, he went against his parents' wishes. They had plans for him. He was going to marry a nice society girl and shoot up the New York society ladder. But he chose me instead.
Dr. Balis: Have Tom's parents come to terms with that?
Ms. Bows: They didn't have a choice.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Bows: I think when Tom married me, he also married me for my mother. He has a far better and more emotionally satisfying relationship with her that he ever did with his own mother. And of course my mother was more than happy to adopt Tom.
Dr. Balis: Are you jealous?
Ms. Bows: I told you when I resented their relationship--I hated when my mom took Tom's side and judged his vasectomy as reasonable under the circumstances. But that's the past, and I don't want to go there. I'm glad now that my relationship with her is on a more stable footing. If anything happened to her while...that would have been a very hard burden to bear for me. Are you close to your parents?
Dr. Balis: Yes.
Ms. Bows: Good. When something happens to our parents, I think we all feel young and old at the same time. I felt like a little lost girl when I saw my mom get sick. And at the same time, I got a sense of being very old--like my turn was approaching--I was about to take my place in the older generation. It's like as long as someone's above you, you're young.
Dr. Balis: You mean as long as there's someone older?
Ms. Bows: Yes, a generation above. You know, Doctor, there was a time in my life when it seemed like I had a wedding to go to almost every month. All my friends were getting married. Then it was the baby showers. Now, I'm afraid, it will be the funerals.
Dr. Balis: Yeah.
Ms. Bows: Well, on that happy thought, I think I'll take my leave and go home to my husband and children. I'm glad everything worked out okay with your dad, Charles. If there's something I can do for you, please don't hesitate to...
Dr. Balis: Thank you, Sylvia.
Ms. Bows: I'll see you next week...oh, actually, I won't.
Dr. Balis: Oh?
Ms. Bows: I have a product shipping next week, and I just don't think I'll get a chance to get away. So I'll see the following week, okay?
Dr. Balis: Let me see...that would be August the 5th?
Ms. Bows: Yes.
Dr. Balis: All right, I'll see you then.
Ms. Bows: Take care of yourself, Charles.
Dr. Balis: Goodbye, Sylvia.
Ms. Bows: Goodbye.
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