Transcript of 6th Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Ms. Sharon Lough, Friday, December 19, 1997 at 10:00 am.

Dr. Balis: Hello, Sharon. You're a little early.
Ms. Lough: I am? I've been trying to get here on time; I was late so much before.
Dr. Balis: Well, I appreciate your efforts. How was your week?
Ms. Lough: It's been hectic. I've been working a lot of late nights. I don't really mind it though, because I can lose myself in my work. And I've been a real social butterfly this week--I actually left the house twice this week to interact with other people.
Dr. Balis: Good for you.
Ms. Lough: Not really. I was miserable both times. Last Saturday, Charlotte took me to a benefit for the San Francisco AIDS Emergency Fund. It was held at the Eagle, which is a gay men's leather bar. Some of Charlotte's friends from the S&M community were there.
Dr. Balis: I see. So was this an S&M event?
Ms. Lough: Not exactly. The Eagle caters to men who like to dress up in leather. So there were a lot of people dressed in leather or fetish wear, which is usually associated with S&M. But there weren't any public floggings, if that's what you mean.
Dr. Balis: I see.
Ms. Lough: Charlotte really loves these things. She bought herself a new outfit because she was going to give some sort of speech or presentation or something. I was just going to wear black jeans and a T-shirt. But it was clear that she wanted me to be her date and play the role of the bimbo.
Dr. Balis: What makes you say that?
Ms. Lough: She's done this sort of thing before--taking me to a gay event and passing me off as her girlfriend. It always makes me uncomfortable, but I go along with it anyway. This time, she picked out what I was going to wear so I'd look right for the part. I ended up in this tight black dress that I was practically falling out of. I haven't worn it in years. I always feel weird in stuff like that. I don't have the right attitude to pull it off. I just look awkward. It was obvious Charlotte wanted to put me on display.
Dr. Balis: What happened at the party?
Ms. Lough: The place was packed. It was hot and dark. And I had to stand the entire time in these foot-crippling high-heeled shoes.
Dr. Balis: Sounds...
Ms. Lough: Excruciating. It was. And the worst part of it was that Charlotte kept telling me what an exclusive event it was--I was lucky to be there with her, because this is where all the cool people were. She even said that when other people see me with her, they'd assume that I must be the world's greatest slave--they all knew how selective she is. She told me stand to her left, slightly behind her, like a good submissive. I had to fetch her drinks and make sure no one took her chair.
Dr. Balis: How did this make you feel?
Ms. Lough: Annoyed. But I gritted my teeth and did it anyway. I felt like I owed her. She's done so much for me--giving me a place to live and all.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Lough: She was really getting on my nerves, though. I was close to snapping at her. The constant name dropping was so pretentious and annoying: "Do you know her? You don't?" She knew most of the people there. I saw a few familiar faces, but no one I really knew. I had to stand there in this hot, dark room filled with smoke while she chatted and gossiped. I was so bored and irritated. I couldn't even use the bathroom--the door was chained open to discourage the guys from having sex in there.
Dr. Balis: Doesn't sound like you enjoyed yourself.
Ms. Lough: I hated it. I resented her for bringing me there and for passing me off like I was her whore. She kept touching me and trying to feed me cake. When she talked to her friends, she talked about me in the third person as though I wasn't there. It was like I was "the little woman," you know? The way men in the 1940's and 1950's thought of their wives.
Dr. Balis: It sounds demeaning.
Ms. Lough: Yes! I've never been much of a feminist, but this really felt sexist even though it was coming from another woman. And the funny thing is that Charlotte was a really militant feminist in her college days. She called herself a "gyne-facist."
Dr. Balis: Did you tell her how you felt?
Ms. Lough: No. I'm a big wimp. I didn't want to disappoint her. I think she was kind of let down, though. When she went on the stage to give her speech, I retreated to the bar so I could sit. I guess she expected me to gaze up at her adoringly, like a good slave should.
Dr. Balis: You mentioned that Charlotte has done this sort of thing before...
Ms. Lough: She's quite taken with the women's S&M community. I can understand why she's doing it, why she's playing this game. The women's community isn't very accepting of heterosexuals, or even of bisexuals. Charlotte just wanted to look like she belonged. I felt the same way a few years ago, but I wasn't able to find someone to be my beard.
Dr. Balis: Beard? You mean a woman who pretends to be the wife or girlfriend of a gay man?
Ms. Lough: Yeah, but in this instance, I'm pretending to be the partner of a wanna-be lesbian.
Dr. Balis: You seem to deeply resent this.
Ms. Lough: Yeah, I do. It really pisses me off. But I went along with it.
Dr. Balis: Because of your sense of obligation to Charlotte?
Ms. Lough: Because I'm weak and spineless. I do feel like I owe her because she gave me a place to stay, though I suspect she has ulterior motives. That was one of the problems I had in the S&M community--I never felt I could trust anyone. It seemed like everyone was out to get laid. And if they pretended to be nice to you, it was only because they wanted to get in your pants.
Dr. Balis: Do you think Charlotte might be attracted to you?
Ms. Lough: I don't know. Maybe. I think she's more infatuated with the idea of having a girlfriend. That way, she can brag that she's got a husband and a little slave girl.
Dr. Balis: Last week, you mentioned that Charlotte doesn't live in the same house with you and Robin.
Ms. Lough: Yes, Charlotte has her own apartment. Sometimes, she visits on the weekends. She and Robin have weekly dates. She doesn't enjoy it at all, though. She gets this resigned, dour look on her face and snaps and snarls at him. Robin is very sweet, almost slavish in his devotion. He does whatever she wants him to do, excluding the whips-and-chains stuff.
Dr. Balis: And Robin is aware of her other activities?
Ms. Lough: He said he doesn't want to know. I'm sure he suspects the worst. When we got home that night, he was hiding in his study. He doesn't want to deal with it. I have a feeling it really bothers him. It must be emasculating for him. Men always get so defensive if their sexual prowess is ever called into question. I saw him the next morning, and he was kind of cautious, you know? He asked me if I had a good time, but didn't ask for details. He seemed amused when I told him I was really glad when it was over.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Lough: I saw my sister on Sunday. That was another excruciating experience. I really am a masochist.
Dr. Balis: What makes you say that?
Ms. Lough: My sister is a bitch. Unlike me, she has no trouble saying what she wants and making demands of others. She wanted me to take her shopping, ordered me around, and told me where to go. Linda doesn't even try to be tactful.
Dr. Balis: I see.
Ms. Lough: During lunch, she said that the eldest child is supposed to care for the parents, according to Japanese tradition. Then she said that, of course, she would have to take on that responsibility, because I didn't make enough money. She always has to tell me what a failure I am. She's hypercritical. I was goofing around in the mall, looking at wind-up toys in the children's toy store. Linda, who has no patience, said she didn't have all day to wait for me and that I looked like a fucking retard playing with children's toys. And, of course, she had to throw in that I needed to go back on Lithium and see a shrink. When she goes on one of her rants, she sounds just like my father.
Dr. Balis: Was your father excessively critical of you?
Ms. Lough: Yeah. I really don't like to talk about him. Linda says he has mellowed a lot in his old age, that he is not as angry as he used to be. She also says I owe him some loyalty because he's sent me money. But that doesn't make up for all that he did. I still have nightmares about him. I guess I will always have a lot of anger towards him. People used to tell me that I looked like him. I hated that. My mother and sister used to always say: "You're just like your father."
Dr. Balis: You mentioned earlier that your father was abusive.
Ms. Lough: Yeah. A real Irishman: a wife-beater and a drunk. He was always angry about something, at least he was with me. He didn't do that to Linda. But it seemed no matter what I did, it was never good enough. I remember he used to keep me up all night, having these drunken tirades, telling me how worthless I was. He used to say I was ugly and stupid, and that I was a mistake, and if he hadn't gotten my mother pregnant, he wouldn't be stuck with me. I don't know why that bothers me so much now. It was years ago, I should get over it.
Dr. Balis: Those are very hurtful things for a parent to say.
Ms. Lough: Sometimes, I have these fantasies about getting back at him. I think of visiting him in the hospital when he's seriously ill and has all these tubes coming out of him. I'd like to scream insults at him and throw things at him when he's helpless and weak and can't defend himself. I'd like to tell him what a fucking loser I think he is.
Dr. Balis: Have you ever talked to your father about your feelings for him?
Ms. Lough: No, I haven't spoken to him in years. Sometimes, I send him a card at Christmas. My mother told me that he was contrite, that he's stopped drinking and changed. Actually, I did confront him once when I was in high school, while I still lived at home. He laughed at me and said I was making it all up. He didn't remember specific incidents that I recalled. But I know it isn't fantasy. I'm not delusional.
Dr. Balis: Many alcoholics use denial as a way of avoiding their problems.
Ms. Lough: I wish I hadn't said anything now. I'm really pissed off.
Dr. Balis: It's natural that you'd feel angry...
Ms. Lough: I don't think I'll ever get over it. I really don't want to see my sister again. She brings back a lot of bad feelings and memories. I'd like to have nothing to do with my family ever again.
Dr. Balis: It is possible to come to terms with your anger and resentment towards your family through therapy. But it takes a lot of work, it requires a real commitment to getting better.
Ms. Lough: That's how you guys make so much money. What a racket. It's a conspiracy. I bet you're in cahoots with my father.
Dr. Balis: We all are, Sharon.
Ms. Lough: Ha! I knew it.
Dr. Balis: All kidding aside, I realize that your coming here reflects a desire to get better, to come to terms with your past. I'm glad that you feel safe enough now to open up during our sessions.
Ms. Lough: Now I really wish I hadn't said anything.
Dr. Balis: Why is that?
Ms. Lough: I don't like being that vulnerable, I guess. I feel like you know too much now and will use that information to make fun of me, like that last dickhead therapist that I had.
Dr. Balis: Don't malign all therapists because of one bad experience. I hope that you'll develop enough trust in me to feel comfortable being vulnerable here.
Ms. Lough: Can't you just pump me full of drugs so I don't care anymore?
Dr. Balis: That's hardly a constructive approach, especially with your medical history.
Ms. Lough: Damn. That means I won't get Xanax any more.
Dr. Balis: I might consider prescribing a non-addictive anti-depressant at a very low dosage if it was necessary. But you seem to be making progress without any medication.
Ms. Lough: I'm going to make a note to myself to act more crazy when I come here.
Dr. Balis: I'm glad to see you still have a sense of humor.
Ms. Lough: Yeah, I'm a real card. Sometimes, I think my sister and father were right--I am a total idiot and a loser, and my life is hopeless. I don't know. I don't even know what I'm saying anymore. I'm just babbling on and on.
Dr. Balis: You might feel overwhelmed right now. That's understandable. You've been through a lot in the past few weeks. I feel gratified that you've continued your therapy this far, which means you must have some interest in getting better.
Ms. Lough: I want to get better. I want to be a normal person, instead of the screwed up neurotic that I am. I just don't want to work at it. Too bad there's no "normal pill" you can take to make you a happy, well-adjusted person.
Dr. Balis: You've revealed quite a bit in this session. How do you feel now?
Ms. Lough: Like I should have kept my mouth shut. But at least now you know. I don't have to tiptoe around the past like I used to. I don't have to be so cautious about what I say. That's good, isn't it?
Dr. Balis: Yes, it is. Next week I won't be having regular sessions--it's Christmas and New Year. So I'll see you on January 9th at this same time. All right?
Ms. Lough: All right. Thanks, Doctor Balis. Merry Christmas.
Dr. Balis: Bye, Sharon. Merry Christmas.
Arrow, Straight, Left, Earlier Arrow, Straight, Right, Later

Button to Dr. Balis' Notes Doctor Balis' Notes on this Session

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

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