Charles Balis' Journal for the Week ending 9/05/97

Saturday, August 30, 1997

Sunday, August 31, 1997

Monday, September 1, 1997

Tuesday, September 2, 1997

1 pm. Seventh Session with Kester Langford. Kester received a letter from his estranged brother Chester. As I remember, we talked about Kester's brother a few sessions back. Kester and he had a falling out about ten years ago and they haven't spoken since. Chester is now a born again Christian, and is trying to tell Kester about the joys of finding Jesus Christ. Kester has reacted strongly to this letter. He doesn't see it as an attempt by Chester to help him in any way. He cast Chester in the same mold as zealous missionaries throughout history--committing genocide in the name of furthering religion. We were able to talk a bit about how Kester sees himself and he feels that he is an iconoclast. He wants to be viewed from his own point of reference, without prejudice. Kester told me that he was sick last week. He had a bad cough and terrible headache. He refused to see a doctor on principle. Kester was upset because his boss Jake did not seem to be adequately concerned about his physical well-being, and was instead just worried about filling the role of security guard for the gallery. It seems like Kester is assigning significance to that relationship that really isn't there. He also received a post card from his girlfriend Evelyn, and criticized it for having a cold tone. Kester rejects western medicine, but he wanted to leave the session early to keep an appointment he made with an herbalist.

4 pm. Fifty-First Session with Sylvia Bows. Sylvia is playing a high stakes game of deception with Tom, against my strong advice. I wish she'd just take him into her confidence--I feel sure that she would be able to win him over to her way of seeing things. Instead, she's sneaking around, making dates with Richard to draw the kids' blood for secret paternity testing. If Tom finds out what she's doing, he's going to be naturally extremely upset. I know that he's been having issues about trust, and this will be a huge setback for their relationship. Even if a million dollar trust fund is at stake, Sylvia is playing this like a chess player, rather than like a loving spouse. Sylvia figures that she'll do the test in secret first. And if Roald or Grant do turn out to be the progeny of Richard, then she will invest the emotional energy in convincing Tom to allow the DNA test--the results of which she will secretly already know--in order to be eligible for the million dollar trust. If Roald and Grant are not Richard's offspring, then she won't have raised the issue with Tom at all. Essentially, Sylvia wants a guaranteed pay-off before she's willing to spend the emotional capital. But she did allow Richard to spend time with the children, and she fancied that she saw some emotional connection between them. Richard is obviously dying, and even if it creates a risk with Tom, Sylvia can't deny Richard the opportunity to spend a bit of his remaining time with the children--one or both of which may be his. She reminds me that Richard was the one man whom she really connected with on a deeper than sexual level when she was cutting a sexual swath through SII trying to conceive. So Richard has dropped the law suit, and Sylvia feels an increasing pressure of guilt, because of all the deception that she must practice in an attempt to allay Tom's worries.

Wednesday, September 3, 1997

12 pm. Fifteenth Session with Alex Rozzi. Alex seemed to almost turn a corner for me today. He is starting to think about the future, and to see his choices as having consequences. Don't misunderstand that this is a total victory for adulthood--far from it. But Alex is starting to mature. He's even agreed to use a bicycle helmet. Alex believes that something about him causes the people he cares about to leave. I pointed out the obvious fallacies in Alex's magical thinking--his grandparents left because they died, for example. But we did touch a number of important items. Benny called a second time and threatened Alex. Alex used the occasion to finger Dora as the one who turned the incriminating videotape over to the police. The call shook Alex, and he has had a recurrence of his nightmares, probably as a result. While Alex thought about Benny in jail, he started to loudly laugh at his taunting jests about Benny being sexually abused by the other prisoners--his laughter became almost hysterical in quality. Alex also got a phone call from Tony, Marnie's lost brother, and was able to visit him briefly. Tony has become addicted to "crank" (heroin or speed, in my day) and is being held captive, although apparently not against his will, by an older man who Alex believes will kill Tony if he tries to escape. My guess is that Tony is unwilling to give up his supply of narcotics. Alex hasn't told Marnie where her brother is, or even that he's seen him. Alex is afraid that Marnie will want Alex to help her in rescuing her brother--even when he doesn't want to be rescued. Alex doesn't really know what to do. I advised him that he had to let Tony's sister know where he was, and I reminded Alex how it would feel if he were in Marnie's position. He was ready to be empathetic, even if he was still concerned about Marnie would expect from him. Alex let me have a Xerox of a drawing that he created--a portrait of the Fleetwood Mac vocalist, Stevie Nicks. Alex has some aspirations towards art--he said that it helps focus him, in a manner similar to what I was trying to accomplish with the knee slapping. Alex answered the phone at his mom's place, and had a brief conversation with Lori, Mark's previous significant other. Lori told Alex that she was on her way to San Francisco and couldn't wait to be reunited with her family--which sounded odd, especially if Mark and Lori are supposed to be divorced. Furthermore, Alex got the distinct impression that Lori was running away from something. There's also a chance that his mother is pregnant. Alex has a lot of issues that he has to deal with in his life right now--he will start high school next week. And he has to confront a host of family problems. With Alex's new found maturity, I think that he has the coping skills necessary to overcome them.

Thursday, September 4, 1997

4 pm. Fifty-Fifth Session with Anna Green. Anna was sick so our session was brief. We spent the time talking mostly about Kathy's reaction to Princess Diana's death. Apparently Kathy was a devoted fan, and was rocked by the news. She reacted as if a family member was involved. So many have been moved so much by this tragedy--something about her life being covered like a soap opera has made her into a figure whom everyone feels like they know. Diana seemed like a genuinely good woman who cared deeply about a number of philanthropic causes, but Mother Theresa's death caused much less of a stir. I don't think that people grieve the loss of a good samaritan as much as they are the loss of a woman who seemed to have overcome a life of emotional hardships. I have to say that I spent a fair amount of time watching the TV coverage of the accident and the aftermath. But Anna didn't understand Kathy's fantatical reaction. To Anna, it was sad that she died and that her two boys had lost their mother. But to Kathy, it was a cataclysmic event in her life. They used the occassion to host a "death party" which apparently was less morbid than it sounds. It was almost like a wake, with about 50 participants swaying and singing and holding candles. It made Kathy feel better. I asked Anna if she had thought more about her relationship, and she told me that she hadn't had time to devote to it. But at the end of the session, when I asked Anna to find the time, she contradicted herself and tried to assure me that she had spent time thinking about it.

5 pm. Sixteenth Session with Christina Herald. Christina came in after almost a month and a half of absence. She was dressed in a completely new style--like an adult, she informed me. She did look much more like a teacher, and much less like a college student. I didn't notice at first, but she was wearing a diamond engagement ring. She kept regarding it with a wary eye, as though she were wearing a live hand grenade on her finger. Christina is a leader and is caught up in the crises of the lives of her friends. It was a devastating blow to discover that her friends were able to manage during her vacation to England. Their lives went on, even without Christina's management. Christina defines herself in terms of her usefulness to others, so when Malcolm declared that he was the only one who still really needs her, he made just the right pitch. She found it difficult to say no, especially after he issued an ultimatium--marry him or lose him. She claims to love Malcolm--although she admits that he isn't the true passion of her life--but her obvious reaction to the notion of marrying Malcolm is one of feeling trapped and hopeless. I might have stepped over the line, but I advised her not to marry him if the prospect made her so unhappy. She seemed almost freed by my suggestion that she could just say no and her life wouldn't be over. I got a sense at the end of the session that she'll give the ring back to Malcolm. Oh, and as a nice Jewish doctor, I really hate that German thing she does!

6:30 pm. Telephone Call from Thomas Darden. Tom called me drunk to cancel his session. He made a cryptic, almost suicidal comment at the end of the conversation--something about being a loser, so why didn't I kill him. I'm concerned, of course, but I think it likely that Tom was more drunk than evidencing any genuine suicidal impulse. I tried to call him back, but if he was there, he wasn't answering his phone. I considered contacting the police, but I have no clear basis for taking that action. However, I do think that I should carefully evaluate Tom for depression. He's cynical, funny, and high functioning at his work--not fitting a classic depressive category. But he is tortured inside and, therefore, at risk.

Friday, September 5, 1997

I had a bad dream about Tom Darden. Something about our conversation yesterday--his tone of voice--was disturbing to me. I tried to call him at work today, but he wasn't there. So I tried to call him at home, but there was no answer. I'll try again on Monday.

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