Transcript of 9th Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Ms. Olivia Stillwell, Monday, March 16, 1998 at 4:00 pm.

Photos of Sherman, Olivia Stillwell's Puppy

Dr. Balis: Good afternoon, Olivia.
Ms. Stillwell: Hiya, Doc. Before we get into the session, I want to show you these pictures of Sherman. Isn't she a doll? She looks so sweet and cute. My favorite is that one, where her tongue is sticking out.
Dr. Balis: These are very sweet pictures.
Ms. Stillwell: Well, I never dreamed that a puppy would be so much work, but I still love the little booger. She's chewing everything. And she howls during the night to be let outside, jumps everywhere, and uses my hand as a teething ring. It will be nice once she's completely housebroken and can be trusted to roam around the house. Okay, enough procrastination. I'm ready, Doc. There are two things I'd like to discuss today: my anger and my fear.
Dr. Balis: They sound like good starting points. Let's begin with your anger.
Ms. Stillwell: I'm still angry with those punks. But It's not a burning hatred kind of anger. It's more a "why me?" kind of anger. At first, I would have welcomed a chance to tear them apart with my bare hands. Now, I think that they have a good change of not becoming a homicide statistic if our paths cross.
Dr. Balis: What do feel has contributed to this change?
Ms. Stillwell: Talking about it helped. Well, talking to everyone except my father helped. Sheesh, he's such a nut case sometimes. But I actually became tired of talking about it. Every time I'd tell someone about what happened to me and Steffy, I would shorten the story leaving out more details each time.
Dr. Balis: Why?
Ms. Stillwell: I guess because the details aren't that important to me anymore. I'm not exactly sure. Family friends asked me about it the other day, and I basically told them that I was mugged outside a bar and that the men who did it were not going to be prosecuted. That was it--no details, no long drawn out description of the agonies, nothing about the cops or the hospital. It was all very to the point. They were aghast and thought it was terrible that the crime would go unpunished. While I agreed with those sentiments, I also realized that there really isn't much I can do about it.
Dr. Balis: It sounds as though you're beginning to let go.
Ms. Stillwell: Yeah, I guess I am. It still pisses me off, but I don't feel the need to scream and throw things anymore. Having Sherman has helped as well.
Dr. Balis: How so?
Ms. Stillwell: She's a handful, Doc. Spawn of the devil, I'm sure. Nah, she's not that bad, she's just an energetic and mischievous puppy. She takes up a lot of my time and attention. I've been spending a lot of my time playing with her and teaching her what is good and what is bad. I've noticed that when I play with her, I tend to forget about the attack. I feel calmer with her. They say that animals are great for therapy, and I can understand why. Puppy licks can make anyone smile. She's always so happy to see me and play with me, and I've just fallen in love with her little antics. Here I thought I was going to get this big guard dog to protect me. Instead, her love has helped me in a much more significant way.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Stillwell: In a small way, I feel important because of her. She really does depend on me and not just for food and shelter, but for love and nurturing and training. She is a lot of responsibility, not as much as a kid, but still a big responsibility.
Dr. Balis: Did you have pets growing up?
Ms. Stillwell: Just a few fish. My father bought a really nice tank and some tropical fish. They didn't last long, though. I had a friend over to play one day, and she boiled them.
Dr. Balis: Hmm?
Ms. Stillwell: Since they were tropical fish, the tank's temperature had to be regulated. Robin decided to play with the neat glowing thing in the water--the thermostat--and essentially boiled the fish. Boy, was my father mad! I think we had the whole set up for maybe a month when that happened. But why do you ask? Do you think something was lacking in my childhood?
Dr. Balis: Knowing your background helps me to understand who you are. I wasn't probing for childhood trauma, Olivia, I was just curious. Let's get back on track and discuss your fear for a bit, okay?
Ms. Stillwell: Sure. The fear is still there, but I'm not paranoid anymore. I can't believe I actually spent a whole weekend in the dark. I'm still extra cautious, and I suppose I will be for a while. Doc, for about a week, I was like that guy in the movie "Conspiracy Theory," the guy who put a toothpick in his door so he could tell if anyone had broken in while he was out and who put an upside down glass bottle on the door knob so it would fall and break if someone tried to enter his apartment. I felt like him for a while. It was so stressful. I wanted to jump into my car and just drive and drive to anywhere, to nowhere, to just any place but here.
Dr. Balis: Do you still want to run?
Ms. Stillwell: No, I can't. All along, I've known that I have to face this. But it was even scary to talk to you about it. I kept imagining myself as that balloon filling up with air, and I'd rather let out all the air than pop.
Dr. Balis: You mentioned since the attack, that you've become more cautious. How so?
Ms. Stillwell: I bought pepper spray and an air horn. They're both small, so I keep them on my key ring. I double check all the doors and windows. I lock my car doors when I'm in the car. I always look around when I step out of the door of a building. I don't walk Sherman after dark. I call and check in with someone whenever I get home, so there's always a person who can say when they last heard from me. I carry a cordless phone with me in the house, and I always have my cell phone on. It's all things like that. Sounds pretty paranoid, doesn't it?
Dr. Balis: Most of this sounds like common sense for a woman living alone. And I'm glad that you're being careful. I'm even more pleased with the progress you've made in overcoming your fears. I worried that you might let your fear keep you from living your life.
Ms. Stillwell: I know. It's not healthy to be so afraid of something that you can't turn on the lights in your own home. And being scared all the time really took its toll on me. That's part of why Vinnie asked me out to dinner.
Dr. Balis: Yes, that was a team meeting as I remember, correct?
Ms. Stillwell: It was. I was a little afraid that Brad and Kelly wouldn't show up, but they did. We all had a good time. We went out for Mexican and we all got a bit sloshed on margaritas. It was nice to see them outside of work. It kind of gave me some new insights about them.
Dr. Balis: How so?
Ms. Stillwell: Well, I had thought Kelly was an airhead, but she's not. She's actually quite intelligent and rather witty, too. She just doesn't say much at work, and when she does, it's usually an off-the-wall comment that makes no sense to anyone but her. But she's pretty decent. She's married to someone at Apple and said that things were a bit tense at home for her back when SII made a play for it. Brad is pretty cool, too. He's a flaming queen, incredibly artistic, and has a really wry sense of humor. He showed up for dinner in drag! I thought Vinny's jaw was going to hit the floor. I laughed so hard. By the end of the evening, Brad and I set a date to go shopping together. He says that he prefers shopping for his drag clothes with a girl, so they can both go ga-ga over the price tags. I like him a lot. He came over one night last week and had dinner with me. Sherman adored him.
Dr. Balis: Sounds like the team building effort was successful.
Ms. Stillwell: It was nice. I learned a lot about Vinny, too. Actually, I didn't really learn anything specific about him, but I got the impression he was a decent guy. Brad told me that Vinny is a widower; his wife died of ovarian cancer a couple of years ago. Before that, Vinny was a real mover and shaker on the stock market. But when his wife died, he just lost it. He didn't have a full-blown nervous breakdown, but he was definitely a changed man. He moved out here and got in with SII. It made me realize something.
Dr. Balis: Oh?
Ms. Stillwell: Here, I thought my life was falling apart and that no one could possibly understand what I was going through. Then I found out that these people with which I work, talk, sit, eat, and joke everyday all have their own dramas. Sometimes you never get to know what's going on in people's lives or what they are facing each day.
Dr. Balis: Quite true. You'll find that by helping friends through their own problems will lessen the impact of--what was your phrase?--the drama in your own life.
Ms. Stillwell: Definitely. Whenever I'm really down, I like to do something for someone else, like buying a card or a scented candle for the person or sending a note. This takes my mind off of my problem and gives me a warm fuzzy feeling inside. We're probably almost out of time, but I wanted to tell you that I've been giving a lot of thought to what you said.
Dr. Balis: About what?
Ms. Stillwell: About confronting that executive on the rumors of her and that kid.
Dr. Balis: Oh?
Ms. Stillwell: Well, "confront" isn't exactly the right word. I've been thinking about what you've said, and I feel that she has a right to know what people are saying. I'm not going to jump out from behind an office plant and accuse her or anything. Who knows, I might not do anything at all. But when I thought about it, I realized that personally I would rather know what people were saying than to be ignorant of it. If I say anything at all, it won't be for a while. She looks like she got mugged, too. She's been limping around and seems jumpy. Being told about some stupid rumors is probably the last thing she needs right now.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Stillwell: Well, I'm out of here, Doc. Got to run home and let Sherman out. See you next week.
Dr. Balis: Goodbye, Olivia.
Arrow, Straight, Left, Earlier Arrow, Straight, Right, Later

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

Button to Olivia Stillwell's Transcripts Transcripts of Olivia Stillwell's Communications
Button to Olivia Stillwell's Patient File Olivia Stillwell's Patient File

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