Transcript of 14th Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Mr. Kester Langford, Tuesday, February 24, 1998 at 10:00 am.

Dr. Balis: Good afternoon, Kester. It's been a long time.
Mr. Langford: Good afternoon, Doc. Yeah, it's been a while.
Dr. Balis: How are you doing?
Mr. Langford: Actually, I'm doing well. I'm very satisfied.
Dr. Balis: What is so satisfying?
Mr. Langford: I'm emotionally on a very even keel right now. I've been thinking that I wasn't going to come to see you today. But I've been away for several weeks, so I thought I should show up and share what's been happening with me. That sense of purpose that I was talking to you about last time we talked has been growing stronger, which is a pleasant surprise. It's really quite refreshing not to feel so driven. Don't get me wrong, my focus is still strong, but in a much different way. It's actually hard to put into words exactly.
Dr. Balis: Would you like to try?
Mr. Langford: Yes, I would. I think the best way to explain what I mean is by example. Jake came to me and said that he was becoming more and more impressed by my work and by my attitude about my art. Now, that's one thing that has changed.
Dr. Balis: What's that?
Mr. Langford: Calling my work "art." I can say it with pride, with a smile, and with a good feeling. I don't feel like I have to explain it the way I did before. I'm not talking about the explanation of my art as gestures, or brushstrokes, or even personal historical moments. My discomfort with myself has been transformed in some way.
Dr. Balis: Do you mean that now you are comfortable with calling your work "art?"
Mr. Langford: In a very simplistic way, I'm experiencing the meaning of the phrase "It's okay, I'm okay." It's not so much what I've been doing that has changed, it's me, the doer, that has changed.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Mr. Langford: My several conversations with Me's aunt in the hospital continue to affect me. I was there for her, and it feels like she gave me back a part of myself that I didn't know was missing. Now that Aunt Maymilu is back home and doing well, I've continued going to see her. I feel like my relationship with Me is my bridge to a relationship with Maymilu. Me and I are actually still involved, but involved in a changing way. I will forever be indebted to Me, no matter what happens between us in the future. And Me has been very important to me also. She came along when I really needed both a friend and lover. I was much more needy then. But my needs have changed considerably since then. In some ways, Me wants me to be the way I was. But I can't; I don't want to be the way I was. I'm not sure exactly what I'm talking about, Doctor. But whatever it is, I just feel so much better, freer, more whole, and more balanced now.
Dr. Balis: I see. You've described some changes in your attitudes and feelings. I sense there is a change in your relationship with Me. I'd like to understand more about that and about your relationship with Me's aunt.
Mr. Langford: Just hold on, let me continue. Now, I can sit quietly without having to create peace through the ritual of my brushstrokes--through my marks. Since these changes in me, I've been sleeping much better. Facing the possible death of Auntie May-mi put my inner turmoil in perspective. It's all less dramatic, less significant now. I mean it not in a pejorative way, just in a routine one. Am I making any sense to you? Are you picking up on what I'm trying to share with you?
Dr. Balis: I'm not sure. I gather your perspective has changed by your recent experiences.
Mr. Langford: Our last session is so vivid in my mind, I feel like I can recall everything I shared with you. It's because I shared something that I had never experienced before--being there for another person, getting a handle on what's really worth living and dying for. My marks have always been vital to my daily functioning. But as I told you last time, they are just symbols of being present. The experience and memory of caring for another person is more vital to me now. That compassion that I spoke of has continued to develop in me. What a miracle. I feel like dedicating my life to caring for others, but not because I have to or because I'm driven to it, but because it feels natural and easy, like the first mark I ever made. Aunt Maymilu and I have been visiting several retirement hotels. I've been visiting with the people there and sharing my thoughts, my feelings, and my art and poetry with them. And I've been asked to come back.
Dr. Balis: That's great.
Mr. Langford: Over the past few weeks, I've been offered a stipend to go and do this on regular basis. Me doesn't know what to make of this whole thing, but she seems to be happy for me. But I'm spending more time with her aunt and her aunt's friends than I am with her. Me understands; she says that she supports what I'm doing. But I'm getting mixed messages.
Dr. Balis: What are they?
Mr. Langford: It's ambivalence. I don't like it, but I think I understand it. She was having a relationship with a person, and now that person is not quite the person she thought. But I really don't want to talk about Me and our relationship. Is that all right with you?
Dr. Balis: That's fine. What would you like to talk about?
Mr. Langford: When I talked to you about my marks during our last session, I mentioned that they have something to do with my mortality, my life, living and giving something that would last beyond my life--something that would live on. I now believe that it's my relationship with people that will live on and make my life meaningful. My art has been my way of celebrating life. But it's also been protecting me from certain aspects of life that were difficult for me to face. Now, my relationship to my art has changed. Wow, it feels so good to call it "my art." What a relief. I always had a negative reaction to critics of all types. I guess that's one of the reasons I had never thought about going into therapy.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Mr. Langford: That's another story. What a realization to discover that I'm the one who has been my own worst critic all my life. This new feeling that I have--a feeling of being full instead of feeling empty--has quelled the critic in me to a large degree. Now when I catch myself being negative and critical, I just smile and celebrate it as an opportunity to recognize that I've chosen a new focus in my life. It's these new feelings of compassion and caring. It's strange, but it's so incredible. Part of me wants to go on the roof tops and shout it out: "It's okay, life is the opportunity to discover passion, love, and self acceptance." In these past few weeks, once again, I've spent most of my time with people who appreciate me for me, just for me. The noticeable changes that I see in people when I come to visit them are incredibly rewarding. It's like nothing I've ever experienced before now. It's like a miracle. I told the people that I've been visiting how these visits have changed my life and how they are helping turn my life around. Some of them just think that I'm being nice and appreciate it. A few of them really understood what I was saying to them and we made a great connection. Can you believe that I'm actually going to get paid for doing what I love?
Dr. Balis: That's always good.
Mr. Langford: Oh, yes. I'm a lucky man. And I know it.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Mr. Langford: I'd like to talk about Jake. He's been upset because business had not been up to his expectations, and he had several cancellations lately. He asked me if I would be interested in having a one man show, and I agreed. The particulars are still not nailed down. And I've discussed with him moving out of the gallery. Jake said that he would try to get a replacement for me, but he was irritated that he had to also deal with that. He said he still wanted me to have a show.
Dr. Balis: Good. Do you know where you want to live now?
Mr. Langford: I've got a few possibilities. I'm considering living in a combination of a few retirement hotels. But it's all in the future. For now, I'm just going to go with the flow as best I can. I talked with Chester and told him what has been happening with me. He seemed really open to me. I believe he's becoming more accepting to new ideas. In fact, both of our perspectives have gone through major changes. I'm sure that it's just as much my change in perspective as it is his that is having me see him in a new light. We plan to get together some time this year, maybe in the summer. Who knows?
Dr. Balis: You seem to be working to understand what's going on inside of you.
Mr. Langford: That's truly an understatement. My smile feels new and fresh. Everything seems much less forced. I always thought that I was a very relaxed, easy going guy. But compared to now, I think I must have been quite uptight. I don't like thinking about myself in those terms, but my narrow focus--although celebratory--was also exclusionary, and that's just a fact. There's no put down, no judgment, just an additional light of awareness, you might say.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Mr. Langford: It seems like I'm thinking more clearly now, and have a new openness to insights about myself. Well, mostly it feels great. I continue to savor my new perspective and understanding. And it doesn't seem like it's something that will go away because it's based on my own personal experience and not on anyone's theory about me or my life. I feel more comfortable with myself, and I'm not second guessing myself. I'm just enjoying my expanded feelings and thoughts as well as my new friends. This experience is not an 'either or' situation. My feelings of exhaustion have become a non-problem. My working hours have not really changed, but in the same amount of hours, I'm getting more relaxed sleep. I'm feeling like I have more energy than before. Life is so strange. It's still quite unexpected, but quite nice.
Dr. Balis: We're just about out of time. Was there anything else you wanted to talk about before we conclude our session today?
Mr. Langford: Not really. I think I've said pretty much what was on my mind and in my heart. I'll tell you one thing, I feel like my language and choice of words are changing in front of my own eyes.
Dr. Balis: Oh.
Mr. Langford: I hope you had a good vacation.
Dr. Balis: Thank you, Kester, I did. Will I be seeing you in a couple of weeks?
Mr. Langford: Yes, that will good.
Dr. Balis: Okay, let's see. How about Tuesday, March 10th at ten in the morning?
Mr. Langford: Sure. Goodbye, Doctor Balis.
Dr. Balis: Goodbye, Kester.
Arrow, Straight, Left, Earlier Arrow, Straight, Right, Later

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