Transcript of 21st Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Mr. Thomas Darden, Friday, April 3, 1998 at 4:00 pm.

Dr. Balis: Well, look who's here! I'm glad to see you've decided to return to therapy, Tom.
Mr. Darden: Hello, Charles. I wish I could say I am as glad to see you.
Dr. Balis: Last time, when you walked out the door, I was very concerned about you. How was your vacation in the Bahamas?
Mr. Darden: I hear it was a lot of fun.
Dr. Balis: You didn't go?
Mr. Darden: Oh, I was physically there, but I was so petrified of having to deal with all those people that I suddenly became "ill" and "bed-ridden" for the whole week. It gave me the license to skip every work-related meeting, dinner, and ceremony they had scheduled. At times, I'd sneak out of my hotel room to indulge in the spa and swimming pool. But most of the time, I spent flipping through pay-per-view porn and ordering room service, all on the company's tab, of course. The last day there, the director of the I.T. department knocked on my door, and I about shit my pants. When I let him in, he was clearly disappointed in me. I suspected he didn't really buy any part of my sick routine. He handed me the awards I would have received from the president of the company himself had I attended the ceremony. Then he said something briefly about hoping I felt better and quietly left. After that, I remember going down to the hotel bar and ordering drinks well into the night. I was so drunk, I had a buzz an hour after I had boarded the plane heading back home. When I returned to town and stepped into my apartment, I closed the door, curled up into a ball, and cried my eyes out.
Dr. Balis: I'm sorry to hear it turned out that way, Tom. It's unfortunate that it seemed to unfold exactly as you predicted it would.
Mr. Darden: Predicted? You mean decided, don't you?
Dr. Balis: Do I?
Mr. Darden: You've always been keen on that self-fulfilling prophetic bullshit. Yeah, so maybe I knew all along how it was going to turn out, and maybe I let my fears control my actions. But it doesn't mean I necessarily wanted it to happen that way.
Dr. Balis: I'm sure you didn't.
Mr. Darden: It doesn't matter now, anyway. That all happened over five months ago. It's ancient history.
Dr. Balis: Well, in any case, I'm pleased to know that you've decided not to abandon your efforts at improving yourself. Your return to therapy is indicative of that.
Mr. Darden: Who's to say I necessarily need you to improve myself?
Dr. Balis: Well...
Mr. Darden: I could have changed completely for the better these past five months, for all you know. I could have become a totally different person!
Dr. Balis: But you're here.
Mr. Darden: I'm here. And I'll probably be seeing you or someone like you for the rest of my life--a person who will hold my hand and urge me on even though I'll pretty much ignore most of the advice you people give me.
Dr. Balis: Why do you come at all then?
Mr. Darden: You know that little voice in your head? The one that tells you to reevaluate your thinking and makes you feel guilty when you know you've done something you shouldn't have? I think I've lost that. I've lost my conscience. I come to you because I need to adopt an external one. I need an outside voice that can dictate to me the difference between right and wrong.
Dr. Balis: Your conscience never leaves you, Tom. You may not trust it now, but it's still there. I think you've grown to ignore it. And you can't simply listen to what I have to say and expect progress. Progress is a two-way street.
Mr. Darden: I know that. That has always been my problem through life: being passive. I've sat idly by for many years, watching all my chances at success and happiness pass before my eyes. I've always been fearful of reaching out to grab those opportunities. It's so much easier and more comfortable for me to simply remain who I am: a loner.
Dr. Balis: Yes, but you've only grudgingly become a loner, Tom. You're not happy separating yourself from people. You want to be around others as much as you want to engage in more intimate relationships. But you're right--it is comfortable remaining in this state because you've endured it for years. Overnight success is not going to happen; I've never promised you that. The change will be slow, tedious, and frustrating for you, as it has been. Socializing with people in an acceptable manner takes practice, and like most people your age, you've simply not had it.
Mr. Darden: I just wish I was married like my little brother Alex. At least then, I'd have an excuse for having no life.
Dr. Balis: I didn't think marriage was your immediate goal.
Mr. Darden: No, I'm not the marrying type. And even if I do one day manage to get my head screwed on straight, I don't think I'll marry even then. That kind of life is just not for me. But I do fantasize about it. I imagine myself being married with a couple of kids, a dog, and a big, green station wagon with wood paneling on the side. Except they don't really make station wagons anymore. They're called mini-vans now.
Dr. Balis: That's true.
Mr. Darden: What I want is to be stable and healthy, have a long-term relationship with someone, and a regular schedule of sex. I'm twenty-six years old; I'll be twenty-seven in August. That big "three-zero" is looming ever closer. And what do I have to show for it? Some gray hair and a bad case of blue balls? And then, when I do have some interest in a woman, I somehow manage to screw it up, or they decide to "just be friends" with me. Fine. Be my friend. Just spread your legs for me now and then, would you?
Dr. Balis: Oh, boy. The old Tom has returned.
Mr. Darden: You're damn right. I had this Brazilian bombshell whom I met over the Internet. She wanted to fuck my brains out early on until she realized I've got some self-esteem issues. Now, she only keeps in touch with me when she needs help with her fucking computer.
Dr. Balis: Oh, yes. We talked about her a few sessions ago. What was her name? Katrina?
Mr. Darden: Karina.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Mr. Darden: There was a two month period during which I didn't hear anything from her. She said it was because she needed to concentrate on her school work, but I suspected otherwise. Then out of the blue, she phones me at work asking me how I had been and, "Oh, by the way, I'm looking to buy a computer, can you help me out?" To which I said yes, of course. And then we go out to dinner, and she starts talking about what she had been doing all the time she wasn't calling me. It turns out she had met some guy ten years her senior. They smoked some pot together a few times, and then he banged the hell out of her. I was absolutely broiling with jealousy at that point in the conversation. I had invested more time in Karina than this fucking pot-head, yet he managed to accomplish more with her than I could. After he seemed to want to get more seriously involved with her, she then broke it off. She told me she had been looking for a casual relationship--she had some fun with him and moved on. I mean, what the fuck? This guy she screwed had no difficulty getting a piece of her. Why am I always the one putting in the most time and effort only to end up stroking my own dick?
Dr. Balis: Do you think she came back to you after all this time because she wants to try to start something again with you romantically?
Mr. Darden: That's what I had thought at first. But if that was the case, I botched up my chances pretty early on. I blew up at her in the car one day--I screamed at her that I couldn't believe that she would fuck somebody else when I had invested so much time with her. I also told her I felt she only came into my life when she wanted to use me for something. She somehow managed to turn it around and made me feel guilty for yelling. She told me how sad she thought it was that I could be so paranoid and believe that she uses me. Bitch. Goddamn it, I deserved to be with her. I should have been the one that made it to the sack with her, not some geriatric dope fiend she barely knew. And she was so big on her Catholic ways...what a hypocrite. She had been telling me she wasn't going to have sex again until she was married. And there she was getting the high hard one from Joe Marijuana!
Dr. Balis: Well, it appears she's not willing to commit to any kind of serious relationship at all. Is she really the type of person you're looking for?
Mr. Darden: No. But I would have liked to have had the opportunity to get closer to her on a physical level. Maybe if I had had that opportunity, we'd be much closer to each other emotionally. And maybe, I did have the opportunity but just didn't see it. As you said, I'm not experienced socially. I have problems picking up signals that other people would find easier to read. But it's not the first time and, considering the mess I've made at work lately, it won't be the last time.
Dr. Balis: What happened at work?
Mr. Darden: Whoa! Is that the time? I'm sorry, Charles, I need to get going. I have a hair appointment at 5:15, and I'll be lucky to get across town in time.
Dr. Balis: Very well. Would you like to schedule your next session today?
Mr. Darden: Sure. How about two weeks from now?
Dr. Balis: All right. Take care, Tom.
Mr. Darden: Goodbye, Charles.
Arrow, Straight, Left, Earlier Arrow, Straight, Right, Later

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