Transcript of 3rd Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Ms. Christina Herald, Thursday, March 27, 1997 at 12 pm.

Ms. Herald: Hi, Doc.
Dr. Balis: Hello, Christina. How have you been?
Ms. Herald: Nuts. Everything is insane. I suppose I owe you an apology as well as an explanation, eh? Well I apologize, but I think when you hear what happened, you'll understand.
Dr. Balis: Okay, what happened?
Ms. Herald: Fucking Kevin is what happened. He's gone all strange on me. Okay. Wednesday, he calls me and asks to borrow my car because his died and he absolutely has to get to this job interview. His whole life and future career depends on this, and since I already pretty much ruined his life by breaking up with him, I can at least help him out with this part. Beautiful guilt trip, huh? As if I don't have enough problems. So I don't have anywhere to be at this particular moment--it's a Wednesday night, I'm not working, nothing is going on in my life except me and Lancelot getting cozy with some--and you will be as impressed as all hell about this one--herbal tea, and the complete works of Shakespeare. Studying without caffeine. Be impressed. Anyways, it gets to be about eleven pm. No Kevin. Later and later. Finally I call Berkeley's Finest at about twelve-thirty. Yeah right, like they're going to do anything about it. He was my boyfriend for six months, I lent him the vehicle willingly. They aren't going to move after ten thirty unless someone has the audacity to rob Dunkin' Donuts. I'm told to call again in the morning if he doesn't turn up. He doesn't. I fall asleep and wake up at six-thirty in the morning when a badge wearing a blue suit decides to bang on my door and inform me that my ex was out drinking and decided to drive my car after having a party with a Coors keg. So where was I? At the police station while they booked Kevin on D.W.I., crying over the wreckage of my poor little Cavalier and dealing with my dear old Dad's lecture on my stupidity. Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of my life. Apology accepted yet?
Dr. Balis: Uh, yes. Sounds like you had quite a day. I was worried, though. Next time call, all right?
Ms. Herald: Oh yeah. Okay.
Dr. Balis: Good. Now, Dr. Halsey called me and says you're in perfect health. He couldn't find any physical reasons for your panic disorder.
Ms. Herald: I figured.
Dr. Balis: Well, that's good news. So what we need to do now is start looking for other causes for your disorder. When we get done talking today, do you have anywhere you need to be for about an hour or so?
Ms. Herald: No, why?
Dr. Balis: Because if you don't mind, I have a program on my computer called the California Personality Inventory that may help us quantify at least some of the basic characteristics of your personality. I'd like to have you sit down and complete the test, then we can talk about it next week.
Ms. Herald: What, you mean like type A, type B, and all that stuff? We did that in Psych 101. I had to take a few of those classes, too. They're required for an education degree. I already know the answer. In a lot of things, I'm very much a type A personality. Things have to be done at certain times. I don't like being made late or when circumstances throw me off schedule. Oh, no!
Dr. Balis: What on earth is that sound?
Ms. Herald: Um, that's Lancelot, Doctor.
Dr. Balis: Oh. Lancelot. I see...he's extremely cute. Rather hard to believe that a noise that loud came out of something that small.
Ms. Herald: I'm very, very sorry about this, Doctor. I had to take him to the vet's for his shots and I didn't have time to take him all the way back home before I had to come here, and I couldn't leave him in the car because it's so warm out.
Dr. Balis: I understand. I think it's okay for today, so long as he's not in regular attendance. Besides, he's quieted down now. So, anyway, How was the rest of your week. Any panic episodes?
Ms. Herald: I'm still keeping that notebook, you know. It's a great help. I had only one really noticeable episode this week, as well as a few minor ones.
Dr. Balis: The notebook is a very good idea, Chris. I'd like to see you keep that up. Now, tell me about what happened.
Ms. Herald: Okay. My brother Jonny came over Friday night. He spends the weekend with me sometimes just to get away from Dad and Joanne. Well, I'm playing doting sister, stuffing him full of my special pesto and angel-hair pasta meal, and he's loving every minute. Then after dinner, he gets all serious. He starts by telling me about how much he appreciates the way I stuck up for him with Dad, and how understanding I am, and how I always looked out for him even when we were very young. Then he says that he needs me now more than ever, as he has recently come to terms with a very big part of his life, and he wanted to tell me first because I am the most supportive person he knows. My brother's gay. Not a big deal in and of itself, but there it is. I asked him who the lucky boy was, and he blushed and everything, we had a good laugh and then spent a pleasant hour discussing various male celebrities' posteriors. Then comes the bombshell. He wants me to break the news to Dad and Joanne, after he leaves for college in the fall. He's got a full scholarship to some school in Minnesota that I guess really wants to teach him how to be a veterinarian. But if Dad disowns him, he says I'll be the only family he has. It just got worse from there, and that's what made me freak out. Not the fact that my baby brother and I have the same taste in men, but the fact that I may well be the one to tell Herald the Horrible that his son is a homosexual.
Dr. Balis: That's a bit unfair of him, to make that request of you.
Ms. Herald: Yeah, well, I know why he asked me. Jonny and I both know that Dad would eat him alive if he tried to tell him by himself. I tried to talk him out of it, even saying that I would be there with him while he spoke with Dad, but his mind is set that this is the only way its going to work. Poor kid's terrified. Although I will say that I'm impressed that he's going to tell Dad at all. Before this, Jonny would have just stayed in the closet all his life and just kept his sex life as far away from Dad as humanly possible. But that night he stuck up for himself at the restaurant, it was like something snapped in Jonny, and he got tired of being put-upon by everyone else. Using me as a shield is only the first step for him. So long as he has someone strong to fall back on, he'll continue to assert himself, and eventually he'll have done it enough to be able to stand on his own.
Dr. Balis: So what are you going to do?
Ms. Herald: I'll probably be the one to tell Dad. It seems the only option. Oh, I'll try to talk him out of it before he leaves for school, tell him how good it would be for him to tell Dad himself and all that, but I doubt very seriously that it will work. But I can't let him suffer.
Dr. Balis: That's very noble of you, Chris. You must love your brother a lot.
Ms. Herald: Yeah, the kid is all right. But it is yet another issue to add to my pile of issues. It was just the major one this week.
Dr. Balis: What else happened?
Ms. Herald: Well, I wrote my midterm essay for Carmichael and handed it in. Work of art. Sheer fucking genius. The old bastard gave me a grudging A minus because he said my interpretation of the piece was only a little better than superficial. Superficial my pretty ass. I had it out with the gargoyle, right there in the classroom. Still wouldn't up my grade, but I know he knows I was right because his neck turned bright red, like a steamed lobster. That only happens when he's really angry, and nothing makes him angrier than being wrong. As far as work is concerned, my boss is going on maternity leave in about two weeks, and she's putting me in command of the starship for the next two months or so until she's back in the saddle. Ordering, inventory, the whole big hairy, I have to do it. My pay goes up, which is one good thing, and of course I'm flattered that Lucy thought of me, but it is one more stressful thing to add to the pile. Then there is Kevin, who totaled my car. Given that he is an unemployed college student, it is doubtful that my vehicle will be restored anytime soon. It all depends on what insurance has to say, and I already know that my insurance company is NOT happy with the situation. My premiums are going to skyrocket. Kevin is also still whining about how much he loves me and how I ruined his life. Gods, I hate that sort of weakness. I know it's supposed to be all cool for a guy to be sensitive, but I just can't stand people who do nothing but whine and cry about how horrible their life is and don't do anything about it! They're ineffectual! How do they ever get through life just bemoaning how terrible everything's been?
Dr. Balis: Is that what you really think?
Ms. Herald: No, I suppose not. Okay, here's where it all comes out. I guess I'm just tired. Tired of holding everything together for a hundred other people when things are falling apart all around me. It's like plugging ten holes in a dam with all ten fingers, then another hole opens up and water starts pouring through. Where most people would start screaming for help, I grit my teeth and start using my toes to stop up the holes. You follow me?
Dr. Balis: I think so, Chris. This could be important. You seem to be taking on a lot in your life. Do you ever wonder if it might be too much?
Ms. Herald: Constantly, Doctor. Constantly. But if I don't do it, it won't get done. And it has to get done. But sometimes I get so frustrated, I feel like screaming. I'm sitting there and I'm thinking, why am I all stressed out because they screwed up? Why can't someone clean up after me for a change? Why can't I get Kevin to give me some advice about how to handle my job, or maybe get Jonny to steer Kevin away from me? I'm everyone else's rock to cling to--when do I get my rock? Of course, that's where you come in, I'm sure. In fact, this is the only relationship that makes sense to me right now. I talk, you listen, I pay, you give advice, I leave. Simple, cut and dried. Both parties know exactly what's expected of them and perform reasonably well. I wish my relationship with Kevin could have made that much sense. To be perfectly honest, Doctor, I really didn't want to give him up. He was...well, he may not have been the ideal, but he was as close as I had ever come before. And he's not as stupid as I make him sound, either. I was just feeling claustrophobic. I knew The Big Question wasn't far around the corner, and as much as I liked the guy, I was afraid. Maybe its childish to dump a good man who respects and loves you for a silly fantasy, but I have this paranoid fear that if I tie myself down then something or someone that would make me incredibly, perfectly happy would come into my life, and because I was bound, I would be unable to accept it. And then it would be gone. I think I'm running past time here. I'll stuff the fur ball back into his box, and take my leave of you, Doc.
Dr. Balis: All right, Chris. I think we might have made some progress here. We'll talk more about it next week, okay? In the meantime, keep on with the journal. And try not to take so much on. Set some priorities for yourself, look at your goals, and try not to take on things that don't lead to your goals. And make sure that you have some time to relax scheduled in there, or you'll wind up with an ulcer before you're thirty.
Ms. Herald: Actually, Doctor, I had one of those when I was fourteen. Have a good afternoon.
Dr. Balis: Hmm. Goodbye, Christina.
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