Transcript of 41st Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Ms. Katherine Lippard, Wednesday, April 8, 1998 at 4:00 pm.

Dr. Balis: Hello, Katherine. How was your week?
Ms. Lippard: Pretty good. Hey, that's my tie!
Dr. Balis: Yes, it is. I'm sure I've worn it before.
Ms. Lippard: I guess I've never noticed.
Dr. Balis: I wear it frequently; I like this tie. Katherine, last time we agreed to talk about your continuing concern with your father's approval.
Ms. Lippard: Uh, yeah...well, I think that's kind of solved.
Dr. Balis: What do you mean?
Ms. Lippard: I've been dreaming about him.
Dr. Balis: You have?
Ms. Lippard: Yes. I'm thrilled, it's really been prodigious. The rituals worked. I developed this bedtime ritual with the tea, and the burning sage, and a sort of meditation, and I combined it with the recall and directed dreaming techniques you suggested. Success! I've been doing it for weeks, but it didn't really start to work until I started sleeping alone on a regular basis.
Dr. Balis: Congratulations. What did you get?
Ms. Lippard: Just what I wanted: Daddy. We've had a series of long, illuminating talks.
Dr. Balis: A series? You mean on consecutive nights?
Ms. Lippard: Yeah. I told you it was big. I could write a series of essays about it. I can hear myself now on "This American Life" or "Sound and Spirit." "Interviews with Daddy," by Katherine Lippard. In fact, Andrew wants me to dictate it all as a case study in paranormal phenomena. He has a psychologist friend--sorry, parapsychologist--who is very interested. But I don't think I'm ready for that yet.
Dr. Balis: What's paranormal about it?
Ms. Lippard: Andrew believes that I might be communicating with my father's actual spirit.
Dr. Balis: Channeling the dead?
Ms. Lippard: Yeah.
Dr. Balis: Hmm. And what do you think?
Ms. Lippard: I'm trying to be open-minded, so I don't want to totally discount the possibility. But it does seem a little far-fetched. It's not like I transcended this spiritual plane, I just focused my dreams a little.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Lippard: I've altered my state of consciousness more profoundly with jazz and gin, and I've never seen dead relatives in the haze above the tenor sax.
Dr. Balis: So what do you think is happening?
Ms. Lippard: I guess it's me. My subconscious is revealing things I know to be true but haven't been able to convince myself of yet. Does that sound too Freudian?
Dr. Balis: If it's not explicitly sexual, it's not really that Freudian. More Jungian.
Ms. Lippard: Hmm. Oh, well. Anyway, let me tell you how it all started. I've been getting pictures of ravens. So in a lucid dreaming exercise, I've been asking them what they wanted. I did this all the time, awake or not, so that it would become automatic. It's been pretty weird asking every raven I see what it has to tell me. I got some strange looks. More than one person stopped and asked, in all seriousness, what the raven said back.
Dr. Balis: I'm not surprised. We are in San Francisco.
Ms. Lippard: Yes, indeed. So one night, I was dreaming, and I asked the raven what it had to tell me. It told me to follow it--not in words, I just knew that's what it wanted. So I did, and it flew over this hedge maze. I went in, but then I couldn't see my guide any longer. So I wandered around this maze for what felt like hours, making no progress. When I woke up, I realized I needed a guide that I could see on the ground. I thought about who or what I could bring into the dream to help me, and the best idea I could come up with was you. I hope you don't mind.
Dr. Balis: Not at all. I'm glad to be of service.
Ms. Lippard: Thanks. The next night--that would be Saturday--I again asked the crow what it had to tell me and followed it into the maze. And again I wandered around for hours. Then I remembered and called out to you. And you appeared between my feet--in my dreams, you're a mole.
Dr. Balis: That's flattering.
Ms. Lippard: Don't be insulted, you'll know soon why moles are on my mind. You guided my through the maze. Sometimes, you got ahead of me, and I lost site of you around a corner. Sometimes, I followed you down a dead end. And when I tried to ask you for help, you weren't in front of me any more but around some other corner, saying I had taken the wrong turn. And then--I love how dreams can change scenes dramatically without you noticing at all--you were holding the door for me to go into my old house in Marietta. Only we didn't live in Marietta, we lived in Decatur. But I heard of a plane crash in Marietta last Saturday, so that explained that. Hey. Now that I think of it, I believe you were wearing that tie.
Dr. Balis: Was I still a mole?
Ms. Lippard: No, no. You were you by then.
Dr. Balis: Katherine, this is a wonderfully detailed dream.
Ms. Lippard: Isn't it though? So I went into this house, and it was deserted. There were just a few forgotten things from the move. But they weren't the kind of things you'd ordinarily forget. The curtains were still up. There was a chair here and there. I saw my favorite stuffed animal. I remember having it, but now I can't think of what really happened to it. There was a pad with drawings on it that must have been Philip's. And there was Daddy's flight bag. That just tore my heart out. I fell to my knees, crying "Daddy, Daddy" over and over again, just sobbing. I've never felt such strong emotion in a dream before. It was more than I could take. The dream just fell apart at that point. I woke up crying.
Dr. Balis: This was a very powerful dream. Here are some tissues. Can you go on?
Ms. Lippard: Yes, I'm okay. The phone rang almost immediately after the dream ended. It was Philip. He felt something was wrong, so he called. I wrote it all down while he was on his way over, and then we talked about it over breakfast. God, I love my brother. He never thinks I'm crazy, he never thinks my feelings are inappropriate. He fully understands what I'm going through with Daddy. He doesn't find it at all strange that I'm enormously successful and yet still dissatisfied. I may never get married, Doctor Balis, because no man will ever live up to my brother.
Dr. Balis: You do seem to have a good relationship with him.
Ms. Lippard: Yeah. But that was the longest, most engaging conversation we've ever had about Daddy. I talked and cried for hours. And he was right there with me, understanding, even crying along with me sometimes. I have the most incredible, wonderful brother of all time. I'm sorry, the tears aren't all about Philip. The whole dream thing pretty emotional for me.
Dr. Balis: I understand. Take a moment to compose yourself if you need to.
Ms. Lippard: Thank you. Sometimes, I'm a woman when I least expect it. Anyway, that dream triggered a catharsis. I talked all about how I felt when Daddy left, and what Mama did to me, and how I drove and drove myself to meet his expectations when I didn't even know what those expectations were. I know I've told you all that, but that was different. You're behind that desk with your note pad and your serious looks. To you, I'm relating symptoms; to Phil, I was living reality.
Dr. Balis: Hmm. I'm sure you have a different rapport with your brother than you do with your therapist, although I believe you've had pretty good contact with your feelings in here. But it can be important to talk things out in different ways with different people. The more you work something through, the more it will reframe itself in your mind.
Ms. Lippard: Uh huh. So the result of all this was that I felt much better after talking to Phil. And I knew that all my confusion and turmoil was okay with him. He understood. And I know that it's okay to have these feelings. Finally, he asked, "So what are you going to do next?"
Dr. Balis: And?
Ms. Lippard: And I decided: I will talk to Daddy.
Dr. Balis: How?
Ms. Lippard: In a dream, of course. I was so excited about it, I couldn't wait to go to sleep that night. I was so anxious that I was afraid I wouldn't be able to make it happen. The ritual helped, but still I woke up twice during the night. Once, I was just dreaming about ravens. Another time, I woke up with a vague, fuzzy memory of the maze. Finally, I told myself, "This is ridiculous. Just relax, go to sleep, and if it happens, it happens." And the pressure was off, and I went right there.
Dr. Balis: Good.
Ms. Lippard: This time, I opened the door to the house myself, you weren't there at all. I got to Daddy's flight bag, and when I looked up, there he was, sitting in his rocking chair--the one he used to sit in to read to us. He picked me up onto his lap like I was six, but really I was eleven. And then, I was thirty three, just as I am now. I was all three ages at once, and it was not at all incongruous.
Dr. Balis: That's the magic of dreams.
Ms. Lippard: Yeah. We talked. That was last Sunday. And then we talked again Monday night. Last night, he told me I didn't need to see him any more--he said everything was all right now. And I think he's right.
Dr. Balis: Then why are you crying?
Ms. Lippard: I'm going to miss him. I have to let him go now, he's right about that. I can't hold onto this memory, this pain, forever. I have my answers now, so I have to say goodbye. Daddy's gone, and I'm going to miss him.
Dr. Balis: Katherine, I think this is a very positive step. These dream conversations sound like the closure you've been looking for.
Ms. Lippard: I think so.
Dr. Balis: Can you tell me what you talked about?
Ms. Lippard: Do we have time for that?
Dr. Balis: I'd like to hear it, if you can talk about it right now.
Ms. Lippard: I can't quote actual dialog. Basically, he said two things: he's sorry he left the way he did; and he's proud of what I've accomplished. He explained that he had to follow his destiny and that it tore him in half to have to give up his family for it. He also said that a divorce may have been inevitable anyway. He and Mama were having problems. I never knew that, and neither did Phil. Certainly Mama never said anything.
Dr. Balis: Hmm. Did she mention it when you spoke a few months ago?
Ms. Lippard: No, never.
Dr. Balis: Hmm. Please, go on.
Ms. Lippard: I always intellectually understood that he was following his dream, but I never could grasp how that could be more important than his family. Now I see. He didn't intend to lose his family. He thought we could get back together for high school, or at least keep in touch and visit and all. I felt like he was running away. He explained that he was running to--he was pursuing his destiny.
Dr. Balis: I see. What about the rest of it? You said that he was proud of your accomplishments?
Ms. Lippard: I asked him specifically if he liked what I was doing. I wanted to know if he liked what I was doing with kids now, but that's not exactly what he answered. This one I can quote. He said, "You do what's in your heart, Katie. Do what you're good at, and don't worry about what other people think." And he was talking about more than just my involvement with the kids. He meant: don't do anything for other's approval, and it's okay to be proud of what I've accomplished and what I've made of myself. It's okay to be good with money. And I should pursue my talents, whatever they are, instead of worrying if I'm on the right track to support society.
Dr. Balis: I think that is a sound advice. You can make yourself miserable trying to shoulder the weight of a dysfunctional society.
Ms. Lippard: Yeah. I'm going to try to dream about him again tonight, but somehow I don't think it'll happen.
Dr. Balis: It sounds like you've turned a corner with this, Katherine.
Ms. Lippard: I think I have.
Dr. Balis: I think we should talk about this more next week, okay?
Ms. Lippard: Yeah. I hope I can make it; it's shaping up to be a busy week. I may get my name in the papers.
Dr. Balis: I'll look for it. Are you okay now?
Ms. Lippard: Yeah, thanks. I'm fine. I'll see you next week. I'll call, if I can't make it.
Dr. Balis: Thank you. Good night, Katherine.
Ms. Lippard: Good night.
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