Transcript of 34th Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Ms. Katherine Lippard, Wednesday, February 11, 1998 at 4:00 pm.

Dr. Balis: Hello, Katherine. Come in.
Ms. Lippard: Hello, Doctor Balis. Think we'll be getting some more rain?
Dr. Balis: I certainly hope not. Things have been too wet lately.
Ms. Lippard: Yeah. Did your power go out?
Dr. Balis: No. Yours?
Ms. Lippard: Just for a couple hours. I didn't even lose the fish in the freezer.
Dr. Balis: Good. What's on your mind today?
Ms. Lippard: A couple of things. Poor Alex. We talked for hours this weekend. He opened up a lot, really seemed to appreciate my company. What a roller coaster his life is! Makes me wonder what I'm whining about sometimes.
Dr. Balis: Katherine, you can't compare your situation to anyone else's. Your issues are just as valid in your own psychic makeup....
Ms. Lippard: Hey, I wasn't saying my issues aren't valid. Actually, I'm kind of encouraged that they're so easy to handle. And I know that they still need to be handled, easy or not.
Dr. Balis: Okay, good. Please, go on.
Ms. Lippard: Alex talked a lot, but I can tell that there was something else really eating at him, something he won't talk to me about. But I'm not pushing it. I get the feeling that wouldn't be productive.
Dr. Balis: Good call. He doesn't need pressure from his friends, he needs support. The two seldom go together. If he wants to tell you about it, he will. Meanwhile, it's good that he has you to confide in, without pressure or judgment. That's a healthy thing for anyone to have.
Ms. Lippard: I wish I could do more for him. You know, fix it.
Dr. Balis: I think you're doing more for him than you know. He doesn't need you to fix it, just to be his friend.
Ms. Lippard: I guess sometimes just talking can be helpful.
Dr. Balis: That's a big part of the process of therapy. Look what it did for you.
Ms. Lippard: Yeah. I didn't even know what my problems were until I came in here. Now at least I know why I'm miserable.
Dr. Balis: And now you can take steps to ameliorate that.
Ms. Lippard: "Ameliorate"--that's a nice one. Hey, if I was a psychiatrist, then maybe sometimes I could fix it.
Dr. Balis: Sometimes. Is that something you think you'd like to do?
Ms. Lippard: Well, not medical school, no. But what about a Ph.D? How long would that take?
Dr. Balis: Generally, five years, once you've been accepted. It's not an easy program, though.
Ms. Lippard: Well, I don't know. Day after day, to have people trooping in and have them tell me their troubles, expecting me to have the answers. I don't think that's for me. I'm more a "behind the scenes" kind of person. But I did think of something, though. Or rather, Phil mentioned it. My sister-in-law is on some kind of board or committee that evaluates where United Way money goes. I think I'll look into that.
Dr. Balis: That sounds right up your alley.
Ms. Lippard: Yes, it does. And I have one or two other ideas I might look into. But I could do this United Way thing without leaving my job. Rachel only does it a few hours a week.
Dr. Balis: Are you still thinking of leaving your job?
Ms. Lippard: Ultimately, yes. I'm not in a big hurry, though. I was just really down last week because of my birthday. I'm pretty much over it now.
Dr. Balis: I'm glad to hear that. What else is on your mind?
Ms. Lippard: I'm going to have a talk with Jake. One gift once in a while--even if it's handmade and very personal--just doesn't do it. We don't talk any more. He used to tell me his history, and his dreams, and his feelings. We used to have spirited discussions about politics and art. We used to thoroughly deconstruct every movie we saw. Now, it's all I can do to engage him in conversation. He's still charming, and romantic, and all that stuff. But it feels like he's just going through the motions, like an actor repeating a familiar role.
Dr. Balis: Are you still working to lend excitement to the relationship?
Ms. Lippard: As much as I can. I try to think of neat new things to do together, and he does them and acts like he's enjoying it. He might really be. But it's not helping. Besides, fun isn't all there is to a relationship, you need the closeness, too. It's like I can't reach him anymore.
Dr. Balis: I see. When do you plan to have this conversation?
Ms. Lippard: Soon, I think. Before Sunday.
Dr. Balis: What's special about Sunday?
Ms. Lippard: Nothing, it's just an arbitrary deadline I set for myself.
Dr. Balis: Do you know how you're going to approach it?
Ms. Lippard: I'll say pretty much what I just told you, though I want to present it in a more positive light. I don't want to sound like I'm nagging him; I want to start a productive dialogue.
Dr. Balis: Good luck.
Ms. Lippard: Thank you.
Dr. Balis: Okay, we've discussed Alex and Jake. What about Katherine?
Ms. Lippard: We've discussed Katherine, too. Remember the United Way thing?
Dr. Balis: Is there anything else?
Ms. Lippard: Um, not really. I'm feeling pretty good lately, other than my relationship, of course.
Dr. Balis: Hmm. Why don't we talk about your father some more then?
Ms. Lippard: Yeah. I guess that's still the big issue. Okay. Uh, I'm drawing a blank. Why don't you start?
Dr. Balis: Well, we were talking about closure. You said that since your father effectively disappeared, you didn't feel the relationship ever really ended. You wondered what happened to him and felt you didn't really know how he felt about you.
Ms. Lippard: Uh huh. And you reminded me that I did know how he felt...I do know how he felt. You reminded me why. And that's pretty much settled. I know he loved me, and he didn't intend to abandon me--it just sort of worked out that way. I wish he could have been stronger and stood up to Mama, but then again I know from experience just how hard that can be. Poor Joey can't do it to this day. And I wish he would have gotten back in touch with me after I grew up. Hey, I think I dreamed of him recently.
Dr. Balis: Oh?
Ms. Lippard: Just an idea. I woke up with him on my mind and the feeling that I could almost remember the dream. I don't know, maybe it's just because I've been thinking of him so much lately.
Dr. Balis: Yes, processing goes on even after you leave the office--for you in particular, I've noticed.
Ms. Lippard: Thank you. I'll take that as a complement.
Dr. Balis: You're welcome. So do you feel you're closer to getting closure with your father?
Ms. Lippard: Closer, yes. But not there yet.
Dr. Balis: I wouldn't expect that. This has been festering for many years, and you've only been dealing with it for a few short months.
Ms. Lippard: A few months? I've been seeing you for almost a year now. When I started, I didn't think it would take more than a few weeks.
Dr. Balis: This can be a long process. Many people stay in therapy for several years. You're making excellent progress. I don't think you'll be working on this issue much longer.
Ms. Lippard: Thanks for the encouragement.
Dr. Balis: Have you reached a decision on trying to locate him?
Ms. Lippard: I'm still wavering. What do you think?
Dr. Balis: Obviously you feel a strong need for more knowledge on the subject.
Ms. Lippard: Obviously. But you've evaded the question. I know you have an opinion. What is it?
Dr. Balis: What I feel about it isn't important. Really, it's what you feel about it.
Ms. Lippard: That's an evasion, too. Come on, Doctor Balis. I'm asking your opinion. Won't you give that to me?
Dr. Balis: Okay. I have doubts that whatever you find will help you settle the issues in your own mind. I think it's more important to work on what you feel and deal with your reactions to what happened. This is about you and how you're dealing with the loss. Dredging up more details about the circumstances may not be productive.
Ms. Lippard: Are you saying that what's in my mind is the issue, and what might have motivated my father is irrelevant?
Dr. Balis: Not exactly irrelevant, but not entirely essential, either. What's causing your discomfort is your reaction to what happened. I think that's the central issue.
Ms. Lippard: I see. Thank you for being straight with me.
Dr. Balis: Katherine, it's not a bad idea. I'm just not convinced it's the most productive course of action.
Ms. Lippard: Okay, okay. I'll consider that. Next topic.
Dr. Balis: Okay.
Ms. Lippard: How's that cat of yours?
Dr. Balis: Much bigger. Still quite a handful.
Ms. Lippard: Phil's thinking about a ferret.
Dr. Balis: I don't think that they're legal in California.
Ms. Lippard: I don't know. I don't think it's a good idea, though. They seem kind of high strung to me. I'm afraid it would be getting into his supplies or scampering off somewhere all the time.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Lippard: Okay. Well, I guess that's it. I'd like to talk more about daddy, but I'm kind of burned out for today.
Dr. Balis: That's all right. We can start again next week.
Ms. Lippard: Uh, no, actually, I'll be in Texas most of next week on business. We'd better just skip it.
Dr. Balis: Okay. Then I'll see you the following week, the 25th. All right?
Ms. Lippard: Sure. Keep dry!
Dr. Balis: Thank you. You too.
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