Transcript of 44th Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Ms. Katherine Lippard, Wednesday, April 29, 1998 at 4:00 pm.

Ms. Lippard: Hello, Doctor Balis.
Dr. Balis: Hello, Katherine. How was your week?
Ms. Lippard: Hmm. Enriching. Yes, I think "enriching" is the right word.
Dr. Balis: What do you mean?
Ms. Lippard: Have you heard of 7th Plane?
Dr. Balis: I'm not sure. What is it?
Ms. Lippard: It's a computer animation firm. About two years ago, I bought a big chunk of stock, waiting for it to get acquired by a bigger company. I even thought of mentioning it to Lloyd as a takeover target. They landed a big contract last week and the stock went up 260% in one day.
Dr. Balis: That's quite impressive.
Ms. Lippard: I thought so, too. So I dumped it. And since this is much more than I planned to make on this stock, I'm wondering what to do with the excess.
Dr. Balis: I'm sure you'll think of something.
Ms. Lippard: I'm sure I will. The Arts Alliance is doing well.
Dr. Balis: That's good to hear.
Ms. Lippard: It's a great place for kids to go after school. But I was thinking, what about kids who aren't into art? What about kids who are into sports, for instance? So I brought this idea to Josh: the Bay Area Youth Recreation Alliance--pool tables, basketball court, weight room, maybe a study area. And later, maybe we could organize outdoor activities like biking and such.
Dr. Balis: That sounds like a good idea. What did Josh think?
Ms. Lippard: He likes it, but he can't manage that and the Arts Alliance, too. So I'm going to try it myself. He and Leigha are showing me how to apply for grants and maybe some education money. Leigha's been very nice. She's a public relations and fund raising specialist; we've been working closely together. I'm the business manager, did I mention that? All it means is that I keep the books. But it's what I'm good at, and I'm helping to keep the Alliance on its feet.
Dr. Balis: Good for you, Katherine. It certainly sounds like you have a lot on your plate.
Ms. Lippard: Yeah, I'm having to prioritize. I've decided against J.A., I'd rather do the Recreation Alliance. Social Venture and United Way are only two afternoons a month each. And with nothing on the burner at work, I'm down to half days most of the time. I have the time.
Dr. Balis: I'm glad you're doing things that you enjoy, and that make you feel good. That's certainly better than laying out your clothes at eleven thirty every night and eating lunch on the same stool every day.
Ms. Lippard: Wow, I haven't done that in awhile. How do you remember that?
Dr. Balis: I looked over my notes. We were going to talk about your progress today, remember?
Ms. Lippard: So we were. Okay, let's do it.
Dr. Balis: You've made great strides in your control issues. When we met, you were a rigid, unyielding businesswoman with no place in your life for frivolity or joy. You exerted inordinate control over every detail of your being and were markedly distressed when that control was thwarted. In fact, one such minor incident was what prompted you to seek therapy in the first place.
Ms. Lippard: I remember. It seems kind of stupid now.
Dr. Balis: I'm sure it does. How do you feel about having control of your life now?
Ms. Lippard: Um, more normal. I'm certainly more flexible. I don't schedule. I don't care if things don't happen the same way twice. It's now okay when little things have to get put off. I let Jeff take over the office--that was letting go of a lot.
Dr. Balis: Does your need for control, or your perception of a lack of control, ever cause you distress?
Ms. Lippard: Sometimes. I'm only upset when things get really hairy or when something's going to cause a big problem. Mostly that's at work, though. In life, I just do things when they need doing and go with the flow. And I'm comfortable with that, if that's what you're asking.
Dr. Balis: Good. Next topic: you expressed an emotional and spiritual emptiness that your financial and professional success couldn't fill. You're beginning to fill that with social interactions and with your volunteer work.
Ms. Lippard: Oh, yes! I get a great deal of satisfaction from that. I feel useful, and there's always something to do. I think part of my control stuff came from just not getting out much. I was bored and needed something to fill up the time, so I developed all these routines.
Dr. Balis: That's interesting but I think it's only part of it.
Ms. Lippard: You're right. Part of it was the corporate persona, and part was...well, I guess part was a reaction to a feeling of powerlessness over a chaotic world.
Dr. Balis: I agree. But why do you think you began to feel powerless?
Ms. Lippard: I'm not sure. I hate to say it all goes back to Daddy, but I can't think of another reason. What do you think?
Dr. Balis: You once told me that you felt you should have been able to stop your father from leaving. I believe that your inability to control this important event in your life--despite your overwhelming desire to do so--may have been at the heart of your feelings of powerlessness.
Ms. Lippard: Well, of course I couldn't control that. The decision was made, there was nothing an eleven year old girl could do to change that.
Dr. Balis: But at the time, that girl thought she should have been able to. The beliefs you held at that time in that context are what shaped your thinking.
Ms. Lippard: Okay, I can see that. But I've reshaped those beliefs and no longer feel the need to control the world. The world is beyond control, like it or not. And sometimes, I don't like it. Too bad. I just have to do what I can.
Dr. Balis: Okay, on to social issues.
Ms. Lippard: I didn't realize I had this whole grocery list of problems.
Dr. Balis: Most people do. You're an intelligent woman with a complex psychological makeup. It's natural to discover and explore a variety of issues during the process of undergoing therapy. Frankly, I'm impressed by the speed and efficiency with which you went through them.
Ms. Lippard: Thank you.
Dr. Balis: You're welcome. So let's go on with the social issues. I detected a fundamental loneliness at the beginning of our sessions together. How do you feel about that now?
Ms. Lippard: I'm too busy to be lonely now. I know dozens of people, and I'm meeting more every day. I don't have a large circle of real friends, but that's growing, too. I don't seem to have trouble meeting people or deciding whether I want to get to know them better, although most of the time I don't. People as a whole aren't particularly stimulating to me. I may never have a gaggle of friends like Jake does, but that's okay. I have Phil. I might meet some more people through Andrew. And it looks like Leigha will be a friend--my first female friend, how about that?
Dr. Balis: Okay, all that sounds fine. But what about romance? You've only had one relationship since we've been working together. What are your feelings regarding that experience? How did that leave you feeling about men and the chance of finding a life partner?
Ms. Lippard: Oh well, disappointed. But I've really only dated two men seriously in my life. I guess it might take a few more tries before I find the right one, if there even is a right one.
Dr. Balis: If?
Ms. Lippard: That would be a shame, of course, but I guess I could live with it.
Dr. Balis: Do you want to have children?
Ms. Lippard: Sort of. I'm not sure. I'd want to be certain that the father will be around for the long haul if I decide to have kids. But I may not need that. I think I can get a good deal of maternal satisfaction from my work with youth. I guess I'd like kids of my own, speaking in the abstract, but it's not a priority right now. Then again, I'll be too old soon. Well, you know, maybe I missed that opportunity. I guess I'll have to make the most of what I have.
Dr. Balis: Hmm. How do you feel about men in general?
Ms. Lippard: In general, I'm cautious. I think most of them can't be trusted. But I haven't lost hope. I'll keep my eyes open, and if someone good comes along, great. If not, too bad. But I'm not going to settle for less than what I want. If all I can have is second best, I'll just do without and use my energy in different ways.
Dr. Balis: That's a strong statement.
Ms. Lippard: This is a big issue. Why should I invest my emotion and energy in a man who isn't worth it? I have better things to do with that energy.
Dr. Balis: Okay. Have you seen any crows since the dreams?
Ms. Lippard: Once in a while. They check up on me from time to time, I think. Andrew thinks they are my spirit guides, and I guess I could do worse. I just see two or three at a time, though. It's not like they still flock around me.
Dr. Balis: I see. In retrospect, outside of your dreams, do you really believe they were flocking to you personally?
Ms. Lippard: I can't come up with another explanation. Other people noticed it, too. I know the whole mystical thing is out of character for me, but I'm just reporting what I saw. It feels weird to me, too; it felt weird at the time. Maybe that's what it took to get me on track for my revelation about my father. I don't mind. But I'm not going to go all New Age on you, if that's what you're getting at.
Dr. Balis: It's not exactly, but it's good to hear that you have a realistic perspective on it.
Ms. Lippard: And a little mysticism and spirituality is a useful thing in this world, don't you think? Okay. What else?
Dr. Balis: How do you feel now about your father's abandonment?
Ms. Lippard: I was wondering when you'd get to that. I feel sad. I lost my Daddy. That's a hard thing to take at any age. It's too bad I wasn't allowed to properly experience my grief at the time, but I'm back in touch with it now and I'll get over it.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Lippard: There's an interesting phrase: "I wasn't allowed to experience my grief." No doubt Mama is coming next on your list, so let's get right to it. I resent her. I'm mad as hell about her cutting Daddy off the way she did. And as soon as I calm down some, I'm going to tell her about it.
Dr. Balis: What do you hope to accomplish by taking to your mother?
Ms. Lippard: Discussion. Catharsis. Healing. I'm not going to keep it bottled up forever. It's a sore point in our relationship, and we need to iron it out so we can get over it. Or rather, so I can get over it, and we can go on being mother and daughter. I don't want to carry this anger to my mother's grave. But I'm waiting until I can talk about it rationally, rather than have an argument and make things worse.
Dr. Balis: Very wise. But I still don't hear you assigning any responsibility to your father.
Ms. Lippard: Oh, jeez. This again?
Dr. Balis: I just don't think you have a realistic view of your father. You've said yourself that his leaving wasn't your mother's fault.
Ms. Lippard: Yes, okay. He left, and that was his decision. But he hadn't planned to abandon us, it was Mama who cut him off. I understand why he had to go. And I sympathize with how torn he must have been between his dream and his family. As for a "realistic view," I like the view I have, thank you very much. I like who my father is inside my mind, and I'm not interested in changing that.
Dr. Balis: I see. We've only touched on your older brother a few times; anything there you'd like to discuss?
Ms. Lippard: Not that I can think of. I don't have a lot of respect for him, but that's not an issue. He's my brother, so he's okay. I don't have any issues about him that I know of.
Dr. Balis: Well, Katherine, on the whole I'd have to say you've made remarkable progress. Your initial complaint seems to be gone, your self image seems strong, and your natural grief appears to be progressing normally. You're gaining experience in social and romantic settings, but continued progress in that realm can't be accomplished through therapy alone; you just have to practice.
Ms. Lippard: But?
Dr. Balis: But I'm not certain you've fully processed your feelings of abandonment by your father or your feelings of resentment toward your mother. And I suspect that there might be something more about your relationship with your older brother...
Ms. Lippard: So you don't think I'm finished?
Dr. Balis: I think you're very close. I'd like to keep seeing you for a while. But if you feel like you would like to decrease the frequency of our sessions together, I think that would be okay. How do you feel about changing to every other week?
Ms. Lippard: I think I'd be okay with that. I'd like to set a goal, though.
Dr. Balis: What is that?
Ms. Lippard: I want to be finished with therapy by the fourth of July.
Dr. Balis: I see. Well, let's make it a goal, but not a mandate. Okay?
Ms. Lippard: Deal. So I'll see you in two weeks at the same time?
Dr. Balis: Sure.
Ms. Lippard: May thirteenth. See you then.
Dr. Balis: Don't hesitate to call, if you'd like to talk before then.
Ms. Lippard: Thanks. Good night.
Dr. Balis: Good night, Katherine.
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