Transcript of 2nd Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Ms. Sharon Lough, Friday, November 14, 1997 at 10:00 am.

Ms. Lough: Hi.
Dr. Balis: How are you today?
Ms. Lough: I'm pissed off.
Dr. Balis: What's the matter?
Ms. Lough: I had a really bad week at work. My boss yelled at me in front of the entire department Tuesday, then today, he reprimanded me again in front of everyone. Isn't there some rule of management which says you're not supposed to yell at a person in front of her co-workers?
Dr. Balis: What happened?
Ms. Lough: There were some important documents that needed to be sent by messenger. That dumbshit, Celeste--the dingbat secretary I told you about--she screwed it up and put the wrong address on the label. She's done it several times before. These are confidential documents, and the wrong people got them. My boss said the error was mine. When I told him that Celeste made the mistake, he said I should have caught it.
Dr. Balis: It sounds like your boss is very demanding.
Ms. Lough: He is--of me, not of her. He always makes excuses for her. It makes me sick; I am so tired of getting dumped on. I feel like I have "Welcome" stamped across my chest.
Dr. Balis: You feel that you are singled out in some way?
Ms. Lough: Well, yeah. I don't think I have a persecution complex or anything. I have a habit of taking on too much responsibility, then resenting it.
Dr. Balis: Can you give me an example?
Ms. Lough: In my department, I'm the one who makes sure we meet our deadlines. I'm the one who's supposed to catch mistakes before they reach the client. I'm not the most social person. I don't give good phone, as they say. I hide behind my computer all day and try to avoid talking to people as much as I can. The guys in my department know that I'm productive, that I'll work all night to get a project done if I have to, so they come to me if they need something. Celeste doesn't have a good eye for detail, and she's easily distracted. I'm wondering if she has some kind of learning disability, or Attention Deficit Disorder. Maybe she's senile. Anyway, she's very good with people. Celeste comes off as this kindly old aunt--you know, a nice motherly woman who bakes cookies and always has time to chat. She makes a lot of errors, though, and she forgets things. I get so frustrated. Sometimes I want to smack her in the head with a blunt object.
Dr. Balis: You sound angry.
Ms. Lough: A few days ago, I snapped at her and made her cry. I was rushing, trying to meet this deadline, and she was like this little kid underfoot. Later that day, my boss called our department together and gave us a patronizing lecture on how we all need to work together as a team, and how not all people have the same abilities. I know it was directed at me, but he had to tell everyone. I was pissed.
Dr. Balis: I can understand your frustration, but your boss does have a point.
Ms. Lough: I had a feeling you'd take their side.
Dr. Balis: Sharon, it sounds as though you make an effort to be conscientious and productive. But unfortunately, not everyone has your ability, or your skill level.
Ms. Lough: Then Celeste shouldn't be working at SII. It's not some cushy secretarial job. It's very demanding, a lot of work, constant pressure, deadlines to meet. Celeste, or someone like her who is easily distracted and disorganized, doesn't belong here. I know that sounds harsh. There are other companies where she would do just fine. Doesn't Goodwill hire the mentally retarded?
Dr. Balis: Sharon!
Ms. Lough: Okay, okay. I just get so frustrated and angry, and I can't stop obsessing about it. There's nothing much I can do, so I should stop thinking about it, right? It doesn't look like they'll be getting rid of any of us any time soon, with all this work we have to do.
Dr. Balis: You say there are three secretaries for your group?
Ms. Lough: Yeah, there's this other girl, Sherry. She's okay. She's competent and a nice enough person. But six months ago, she had a baby, and now she takes a lot of time off. I have to pick up her work load, too.
Dr. Balis: I see.
Ms. Lough: I have to keep reminding myself to be patient. It's annoying though. It seems like every other week she's either late, or needs to leave early, or calls in sick. It's always, "The baby this," or "The baby that."
Dr. Balis: Being a single mother is quite a challenge.
Ms. Lough: I'm glad I can't have kids.
Dr. Balis: You can't have children?
Ms. Lough: Well, it's highly unlikely. I had this problem a few years ago. I don't really like talking about it. Female trouble, you know?
Dr. Balis: You don't have to discuss any topic that makes you uncomfortable.
Ms. Lough: I mean, no offense, but you're not my ob/gyn.
Dr. Balis: No, that's fine. I understand.
Ms. Lough: Anyway, I read that women who have what I had--I had an ovarian cyst, I guess it's not such a big deal. A lot of women have them. I don't know why it bothers me so much to talk about it. I feel like I'm defective or something. It was pretty serious. I let it go for too long. Anyway, there's a pretty good chance that I'm infertile.
Dr. Balis: Do you like children?
Ms. Lough: Yeah, I like other people's kids. I even like my landlord's little monsters. His youngest son likes to come to my apartment and bug me; he's so starved for attention. But women like Sherry, who know better but get knocked up anyway, they really get to me. She's a smart woman, not some teenager. She's a few years older than me. Didn't she realize what she was getting into? And her boyfriend is a real shit. He doesn't support her or the baby at all.
Dr. Balis: That sounds like a difficult situation.
Ms. Lough: It seems to me that single motherhood is a burden on everyone, on all of society. You always hear about how it's so hard for single mothers, how much work they have to do, and how the fathers don't contribute. But these women made a choice. It's not like it was 20 or 30 years ago. Women have access to birth control now, and there are abortion clinics and adoption agencies. There aren't any social programs or special benefits for women in their teens and twenties who don't have children. I've worked with other single mothers, and they are a real pain in the ass--always taking time off, calling in sick. They always say, "My child comes first." No boss will ever challenge a woman on that. But if she cared about her kids so much, why didn't she take steps to insure that they would have a stable home life? Why did she have a child she couldn't afford? And society puts single mothers up on a pedestal. They get special treatment. It's almost as if they're being rewarded for their bad judgment.
Dr. Balis: You seem very passionate about this.
Ms. Lough: I didn't mean to rant. I don't mean to sound like Dan Quayle. I'm not a Republican. But I've worked with a lot of single moms. I'm usually one of the few single, childless women in the office. I guess I was lucky I never got pregnant. But I would have had an abortion, or given it up for adoption. I don't think single moms should be branded with a scarlet letter. But it seems wrong to encourage them--to say that what they did is okay and life should be made easier for them. Maybe I get so angry because I had such a screwed up home life. I hate to think of kids growing up unwanted, like my landlord's kids. He yells at them constantly. I know their home life must be terrible.
Dr. Balis: Would you like to talk about your own childhood?
Ms. Lough: No.
Dr. Balis: No?
Ms. Lough: It's not exactly my favorite subject.
Dr. Balis: I see.
Ms. Lough: It's hard for me to talk about.
Dr. Balis: We can talk about it when you feel ready. Or not at all, if you prefer.
Ms. Lough: Well, it's just that a shrink I saw about two years ago...he was an intern at a local clinic. He wasn't very experienced. Anyway, I told him a lot of personal stuff. Things that were really painful for me to talk about. I felt like I had to talk about them. That's why you go to a therapist, right? Well I told him, and something about his response...I don't know.
Dr. Balis: Did he respond in a manner that was unprofessional?
Ms. Lough: He seemed...well, almost dismissive.
Dr. Balis: Would you feel comfortable giving me an example?
Ms. Lough: Well, there was this one incident. I used to have nightmares about it. I don't want to go into detail...
Dr. Balis: That's fine. Just tell me as much as you feel comfortable with.
Ms. Lough: My father came home drunk and...well, he was abusive. Extremely physically abusive. I felt like I had to purge myself. The memories kept coming back. So I told him--my previous shrink--what happened. I told him all the details I remembered. I was in tears, it was so hard for me to talk about. When I was finished, he said, "So, your father was hitting you and stuff?" He didn't even pretend to care. He could have at least given me that old therapist's cliché, "How does that make you feel?" He didn't realize that I had just told him one of the worst things that had happened to me. My father was...he was...I don't want to talk about this.
Dr. Balis: All right, Sharon, that's fine.
Ms. Lough: Maybe I'm making too much of this.
Dr. Balis: Don't discount your feelings. Memories of an abusive parent can be painful to recount. It sounds as though your other therapist didn't have the experience to respond appropriately.
Ms. Lough: Now I feel I can't ever tell anyone else about it. And I can't stop the memories from coming back. They flood back at the most inopportune times.
Dr. Balis: Do you feel that your last therapist might have turned you off to therapy in general?
Ms. Lough: Yes, him and the shrinks in the loony bin. I feel stupid now. I wasn't going to tell you. I made up my mind that I wasn't going to tell anyone.
Dr. Balis: Sharon, we have a lot to work through. I won't lie to you and say that therapy is an easy process, but I certainly hope that you'll come to trust me and give me your confidence. I suggest that all my patients write down their thoughts and feelings, particularly those they find troubling. The journal is just for you, although I'd be happy to read it if you feel like sharing it with me. You might find it helpful to write down your thoughts and feelings, even your dreams.
Ms. Lough: Dreams?
Dr. Balis: Yes, do you remember your dreams?
Ms. Lough: I used to have nightmares. I still do, sometimes.
Dr. Balis: Try keeping a journal for a few weeks. Write in it as often as you like.
Ms. Lough: Do I have to show it to you?
Dr. Balis: You can if you'd like. That's entirely up to you. If you'd rather not, that's fine also. The journal will help you monitor, review, and express your feelings and emotions. I also encourage my patients to share with me their creative efforts, such as sketches or poetry.
Ms. Lough: I'll think about it. But I'm not promising anything.
Dr. Balis: Good, Sharon. Our time is up this week. Does this time next week work for you?
Ms. Lough: Yes, this is fine.
Dr. Balis: I'll see you next week.
Ms. Lough: Okay. Thanks.
Dr. Balis: Sure. Goodbye, Sharon.
Ms. Lough: Bye, Doctor Balis.
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Button to Dr. Balis' Notes Doctor Balis' Notes on this Session

Button to Sharon Lough's Transcripts Transcripts of Sharon Lough's Communications
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