Transcript of 20th Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Ms. Katherine Lippard, Wednesday, October 1, 1997 at 4:00 pm.

Ms. Lippard: Hello, Doctor Balis.
Dr. Balis: Hello, Katherine. Day off?
Ms. Lippard: No. Frank and I spent the day going through old files trying to sort things out and figuring out what I would still need after he left and what we could toss. We tossed a lot. It's amazing what you save because you think you might need it later and then never do. Why, doesn't this look professional?
Dr. Balis: Oh, yes, you look fine. I just don't think I've ever known you to wear pants to the office.
Ms. Lippard: You're right, I don't usually. But we knew this would be a dusty job. Frank actually wore Chinos! With topsiders. I thought the most casual thing he owned was maybe double-knit and loafers.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Lippard: I've been thinking I might go through some stuff at home the same way. So, let's get started.
Dr. Balis: And that is?
Ms. Lippard: The list.
Dr. Balis: Oh, things to talk to your mother about.
Ms. Lippard: Yes. I thought I'd try to keep it to one page.
Dr. Balis: Good. Let's hear it.
Ms. Lippard: Okay. I thought I'd start light: chat about what's new with me and my job, find out what she's been up to, mention that I'd been trying new things--she always likes that. She doesn't want me to stagnate. I don't think I'll tell her about Jake.
Dr. Balis: Oh? Why not?
Ms. Lippard: I might mention that I've been going out, but I don't want to get all into my feelings, and how serious this might be, and the possibility of grandchildren. Not until I know the answers.
Dr. Balis: Still, Jake is a pretty big development in your life. Don't you think she'd like to hear about him?
Ms. Lippard: Of course she would. But you're a pretty big development in my life, and I don't want to talk about that, either. I just don't want to spend the whole night trying to defend my feelings, while she tells me I'm worrying over nothing and should just grow up and settle down.
Dr. Balis: Is that what you think would happen?
Ms. Lippard: Yes. Now, on with the list. I'll say how lucky we all were to have the opportunity to go to college and how grateful I am the money was there. Then, I'll segue into: "I've been wondering why you didn't tell us the money was there?" Then, I can move from there into: "I've had some other things on my mind..." And then into the Daddy stuff. You look confused.
Dr. Balis: More surprised. I just wasn't expecting such a detailed plan.
Ms. Lippard: Well, there's plenty of room for improvisation.
Dr. Balis: I'm glad to hear that. So what is the "Daddy stuff?"
Ms. Lippard: I'll say something like, "You know, I really was devastated when Daddy left. But I was so wrapped in my own grief, that I never noticed what you were feeling." Then I'll get her to open up about that and describe just how she felt about him and why he really left.
Dr. Balis: Didn't he explain to you why he left? To pursue his dream?
Ms. Lippard: Yeah, but that may not be all there was to it, you know? Maybe he never even wanted a family in the first place. Maybe he wasn't in love with Mama any more. Maybe he had cancer and didn't want us to watch him die. It could be a lot of things.
Dr. Balis: Certainly. This might be a surprising question from your therapist, but if it did have something to do with your mother personally, do you really want to dredge that up?
Ms. Lippard: I think it's been long enough that she should be able to talk about it. Besides, I want to know. I don't think I'm ever going to be at peace with this until I have the whole story.
Dr. Balis: But you have to be ready to find out that you already have the whole story. It could be that what he told you was the whole truth of the matter.
Ms. Lippard: Yeah, that might be. But right now, I don't know, do I?
Dr. Balis: No. You don't. Is that the end of the list?
Ms. Lippard: Well, the list is more of a reminder of things I want to bring up, not an action plan. That's in my head. Where we get into talking about Daddy, it gets pretty loose. I want maximum flexibility there, because it might go anywhere.
Dr. Balis: Good idea.
Ms. Lippard: And I don't plan to have the list with me at dinner. Well, I might bring it along and maybe go to the bathroom once in a while to check it and make sure I'm not missing anything. But I don't want her to think I'm interrogating her from a script.
Dr. Balis: Uh huh.
Ms. Lippard: So the items on the list are: "Thanks for the college money. Why did you keep it secret? I sure felt bad when Daddy left, but I bet you felt worse. How did you feel, and did it have anything to do with me? While we're on the subject, did you ever feel jealous of my relationship with Daddy? Because sometimes I did, of yours. Did he tell you any more about why he left? Do you know why he stopped calling? Have you heard from him since then? Do you know if he's alive or dead?"
Dr. Balis: Here...
Ms. Lippard: No, I'll be okay. I have to be able to talk to her about this without crying, so I may as well practice now. I'll work into it more slowly, of course--give myself time to get ready for the questions and the answers. There, better?
Dr. Balis: I'm always amazed at how you can do that.
Ms. Lippard: Well, one day I'll be able to maintain this composure and not lose it even a little like I just did and then have to get it back.
Dr. Balis: Maybe one day you'll allow yourself to lose it completely and actually experience your feelings.
Ms. Lippard: I experience my feelings.
Dr. Balis: Katherine, every time you start to tear-up about your father, you throw some switch inside that turns it off and then you change the subject. You won't ever come to peace with this until you can work through the emotions connected with it.
Ms. Lippard: Hey, I bawled my eyes out when I first told you about it and again the next time. Give it a little rest, huh? I don't want to lose it in front of my mother, or it'll turn into her just comforting me. She has to know I can handle the whole truth, or she won't tell me the whole truth. And I have to have the whole truth, or I'll spend the rest of my life wondering. Once I have that, I'll come in here and spill my guts, and you can watch me go through a week's worth of Kleenex. Is that's what you want? Okay?
Dr. Balis: Okay.
Ms. Lippard: Oh, don't look so surprised. You knew I have this stubborn streak. Now let's talk about something else.
Dr. Balis: Sure.
Ms. Lippard: I let Jake take some portraits of me--with clothes on. Flattering stuff: tight jeans, a little ribbed sweater. I haven't seen them yet, but I liked the poses--not at all suggestive, just different views of the whole me. I'm thinking if I like them, I might try to duplicate them, but nude. Then we can see how different I look with and without clothes. Might even make a good exhibit--display them side by side.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Lippard: And Philip's excited about the trip. He's just dying to see little Jeffrey and Lynn. And he's thinking up ways to get under Rachael's skin without being obvious about it. I swear, Phil gets along with everyone so well, it's strange to see all the venom he has for Rachael. But I don't think he hates her; it's just a game.
Dr. Balis: And how do you feel about your brother's wife?
Ms. Lippard: She's okay, I guess. I mean she's a snob, but she was brought up that way. I feel a little sorry for her trapped in that image-is-everything mind set. And it's kind of sad that she can't leave Joey no matter how poorly he treats her. She just can't exist on her own.
Dr. Balis: What about Joey?
Ms. Lippard: Oh, he knows a good thing when he sees it. But he's used to pushing limits. He takes advantage of her, does what he pleases knowing she won't leave him. But he's not really mean to her, he just gets away with what he can. He's not mean to her, but he's not nice to her either. I don't like that, but part of it's her fault. She lets him get away with it.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Lippard: But the kids are great. I haven't seen them in a while. I hope they're still as sweet and wonderful as they were. Somehow, they seem to be growing up okay despite their parents. Maybe private schools and summer camps do more for them than I thought.
Dr. Balis: Children can be very resilient.
Ms. Lippard: I hope so.
Dr. Balis: Anything else on your mind?
Ms. Lippard: No, not really. I guess it'd be okay to end a little early, wouldn't it?
Dr. Balis: Sure. I'll see you next week.
Ms. Lippard: Bye.
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