Transcript of 13th Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Mr. Thomas Darden, Friday, June 20, 1997 at 4:00 p.m.

Mr. Darden: Hi, Charles!
Dr. Balis: Why hello, Tom. I must say you seem in high spirits.
Mr. Darden: Oh, you might say so. It probably has something to do with the Mountain Dews I've been sucking down all day.
Dr. Balis: No, there's something else different about you. Take a seat.
Mr. Darden: Thanks.
Dr. Balis: If I didn't know better, I'd say you've met someone.
Mr. Darden: Come on, Charles, that's such a cliché. Getting laid doesn't change the world that dramatically.
Dr. Balis: Is that what happened to you?
Mr. Darden: Well, no, not really, but it seems like if someone's in a good mood it always has to be attributed to a recent sexual experience. That gives women way too much credit--much more than they deserve.
Dr. Balis: So this recent mood swing of yours has nothing to do with sex or women?
Mr. Darden: I didn't say that. Damn it, Charles, do you have to analyze everything? I'm in a good mood, for Christ's sake. Is that so bad?
Dr. Balis: No, it's not bad at all. It's just that I don't buy that it's completely unmotivated.
Mr. Darden: While you're sitting there dissecting me, could you maybe find the time to go to hell?
Dr. Balis: Tom, you have to understand...
Mr. Darden: I'm sorry. That was out of line. It's just that every time I walk in here and talk to you, I feel like either you're completely not listening or you're staring so intently at me that you make me feel guilty, like you think I'm holding something back from you and should be ashamed for not sharing it. I feel compelled to talk about things I never intended to bring up.
Dr. Balis: I didn't realize I made you so uncomfortable.
Mr. Darden: You don't...well, not really. I talk to myself a lot, Charles, living alone. Coming here...speaking to you is a lot like talking to myself. I don't mean any offense by that. It's just that sometimes I need to explode and vent to a living, breathing person once in a while and never get the opportunity. So I pay you to listen to me regurgitate my thoughts. Before I started seeing you, I used to stare in the mirror a lot and talk out loud about how I feel and what I want to do in life and why it's not happening.
Dr. Balis: Was there ever a response?
Mr. Darden: No! The mirror never talked back. I'm not that far gone yet. When I had been hired to my first full-time job a few years ago and had a steady relationship with someone, things seemed to be falling into place. It was easy to look ahead to happier times. Then it all ended abruptly just when I thought life was starting to make sense and coming into focus. Sharon was a big part of my happiness and, when I lost her, everything else followed. Since then, I've lived a pretty hollow existence. Many times I find myself wondering what point there is to anything. You're born, you grow old, and then you die. What does this accomplish? Why exist at all? So we can watch MTV all day?
Dr. Balis: You've placed a lot of emphasis on Sharon in relationship to your life and your perspective of it. For the little time you two had together, your feelings seem disproportionate.
Mr. Darden: Maybe what you said earlier was right. Maybe getting laid does make that much of a difference to us guys.
Dr. Balis: I didn't say that. I simply guessed that you had met someone.
Mr. Darden: Whatever. You implied it. Let me put it this way: Sharon loved me. That made me mean something. It gave me purpose and, for the first time, a sense of clarity. She took all that with her when we broke up.
Dr. Balis: She didn't take anything from you. Your perceptions of the situation were all that changed. It was your inability at the time to cope with the emotions that inevitably followed your breakup that made the experience so devastating to you. From what you've told me, you weren't experienced with the nuances of relationships and certainly you found it difficult dealing with the repercussions of the split. I think during that period of your life, you had an unusually high sense of co-dependency.
Mr. Darden: You're saying I kissed her ass.
Dr. Balis: Not exactly, but it certainly seems like she played more of a dominating role than you did. You were only happy when she was near, which gave her an enormous amount of control. The key to this, though, is your lack of experience. As you become more involved socially, you will begin to see in retrospect the relative insignificance of your time with Sharon.
Mr. Darden: Well, I think my involvement with other people might be hindered by Sharon once again.
Dr. Balis: What do you mean by that? I thought she was engaged to be married.
Mr. Darden: She is. Sharon called and left a message on my answering machine four days ago.
Dr. Balis: How did she find your number? What did she want?
Mr. Darden: She simply called my Mom and asked for it. Mom thought I would have wanted her to have it, so she readily gave it to her. I got home from work Monday night around seven, and there was the message light, blinking at me. When I pressed the button and heard her voice, it triggered something. I felt this pleasant tingling sensation in the back of my neck and I could feel the blood rush to my skull. It was like my dream had come true. Sharon wanted to talk to me! Her message was pretty brief: she asked me how I was, left me her e-mail address at school and her phone number. It was amazing. This same girl two years ago had removed her phone number from the school directory to keep me from calling and had done everything to make sure I stayed out of her life, and then all of sudden she's giving me everything but her bra size, which I know already.
Dr. Balis: I'm not sure I like what you're telling me.
Mr. Darden: Then you definitely won't dig what happened next. I sent an e-mail to Sharon later that night since Pennsylvania's time zone is three hours ahead of ours and it was getting too late to call. She replied the next afternoon and asked me to call. That night I called her and we spoke for at least two hours. We re-lived the whole year and a half we had together, including the break-up. It was like our entire relationship was encapsulated into that one conversation. We laughed, we argued, we cried...we had sex.
Dr. Balis: What?
Mr. Darden: This is probably not a good thing to talk about.
Dr. Balis: I'm assuming you're not speaking figuratively?
Mr. Darden: This is hard to talk about.
Dr. Balis: If it makes you uncomfortable...
Mr. Darden: We had phone sex, okay?
Dr. Balis: I see.
Mr. Darden: Apparently Sharon is not all that happy with Antoine. They've been having frequent squabbles and she's questioning her love for him. He got a job in Indiana and he wants Sharon to drop everything and move with him and abandon her own career goals after college. She told me she had forgotten how comfortable I made her feel talking to her and then we talked about our sexual experiences together. Soon Sharon's voice began dipping down a couple octaves and she slowly whispered things she wanted to do with me and pretty soon my fly was unzipped. Graphic enough for you yet?
Dr. Balis: I'm getting the idea.
Mr. Darden: Yeah, well, we talked again the next night and we're meeting in a chat room on the Internet tonight. I don't exactly know why I'm letting her do this to me again, but I can't help it. I haven't felt this hopeful in a long time.
Dr. Balis: Do you feel the two of you will renew your relationship? Do you think that, somehow, you'll be together again despite the miles between you?
Mr. Darden: No. My gut says no. But I want exactly that. I want her back. I need her. I need somebody. I feel like she's rescued me. A few months more of what I was going through emotionally before my vacation, and I would have killed myself.
Dr. Balis: You honestly believe that?
Mr. Darden: I can only tell you how I felt. When I was feeling that hopeless, visions of death flooded my mind. How else would you describe that?
Dr. Balis: You're more levelheaded than you give yourself credit for. I don't think you would have taken your own life, especially when you're in the midst of treatment and are so eager to improve. My feelings about your situation with Sharon are strong. You won't like my opinions but I'm not here to tell you what you want to hear. Your relationship with Sharon is destructive. It was based on emotional instability and your break-up ended on the same note. I feel you need to find the strength to move on before you can expect any type of healing. And even if you are able to renew a relationship with Sharon, you haven't been able to accomplish enough independently to give that relationship a chance of working. We'll have to talk more about this next week.
Mr. Darden: All right.
Dr. Balis: How's next Friday at 4 p.m.?
Mr. Darden: It still works for me.
Dr. Balis: I'll see you then.
Mr. Darden: See you later.
Arrow, Straight, Left, Earlier Arrow, Straight, Right, Later

Button to Dr. Balis' Notes Doctor Balis' Notes on this Session

Button to Thomas Darden's Transcripts Transcripts of Thomas Darden's Communications
Button to Thomas Darden's Patient File Thomas Darden's Patient File

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