Transcript of 5th Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Ms. Phylis Birch, Monday, September 30th, 1996 at 12:00 noon.

Dr. Balis: Ms. Birch welcome. I've been thinking about you.
Ms. Birch: Hello Dr. Balis.
Dr. Balis: So I never heard from you.
Ms. Birch: Yeah I'm sorry. Things were really crazy at work this week. I had a deadline to meet for the investor's meeting and my computer crashed big time.
Dr. Balis: I hope you were backed up.
Ms. Birch: I was, but some things vanished into space and I couldn't work on my machine because the hard drive had to be sent to Drivesavers. Boy, did they save my ass. Anyway I got through it and got the system upgrade I've been pushing for to boot. Now I just have to break it in but hopefully it's not going to be too bad.
Dr. Balis: Hopefully.
Ms. Birch: I've also had a rather disturbing experience at Wi... at a bar that I've been going to for quite a while. Incidentally, it was my only outing this week because of the chaos at work.
Dr. Balis: Okay.
Ms. Birch: I met a young woman who apparently has been going there for months. We've managed to always just miss each other. She's sort of punky--blue highlights in her hair and stuff. She was bright and articulate, despite the fact that she was nursing her third Rum and Coke. She said that she has a degree from the University of Texas in International Relations. She's been out of school for two years, works in Noah's Bagels, and hates her life. It was so frustrating to hear her story.
Dr. Balis: More so than other stories you've heard?
Ms. Birch: In a way. Most people that I strike up conversations with, or they with me, are older. They have their troubles but there's usually a long string of events that has lead them to the point where they are now. Some are vets, some are wives of vets, some have had run-ins with the law. All kinds of stories are out there but I rarely get to be present for the beginning of the fall. It's devastating.
Dr. Balis: What makes you believe that she's at the beginning of a fall and not on the verge of getting out of her situation?
Ms. Birch: For one thing, she comes off as depressed and defeated. It's hard to make good things happen when you have given up trying. For another, she was on her third drink at four in the afternoon.
Dr. Balis: There's that. But at least she's employed.
Ms. Birch: That's right. She works for four days in a row, then drinks for two, and dries out on the last day before starting the cycle anew.
Dr. Balis: What did you say to her?
Ms. Birch: Well, I didn't really know what to say. I never expected to meet her. She didn't fit the mold, if there's such a thing. She was too green. I wanted to help her snap out of it. Nobody goes to college, especially one as reputable as University of Texas, to work in a bagel shop. She still owed tons of money on her student loans. God, I'm glad that I never took any out! Anyway, I didn't know how to make her see things differently. I didn't stay long. I came home early, sat on the couch, and waited for Jack to come home as I stared out of the window. I really wanted to tell him about this girl. I don't know why, hers is certainly not the most tragic story I've ever heard but it got to me. Maybe because when I got out of college I drifted for a while. Things were different then. I was confident that I would make it even when I didn't know in what capacity.
Dr. Balis: Does this woman remind you of yourself some years back?
Ms. Birch: In a way.
Dr. Balis: Well if she has your determination, she'll make it.
Ms. Birch: How can you be so callous?
Dr. Balis: She really shook you up, didn't she? Is this the first time that you got so emotionally involved with a person that you've met in this context?
Ms. Birch: It's been a while, but I used to be quite affected when I first started to do this. I guess I wasn't as good at keeping my shield up then. But this spun me for a loop.
Dr. Balis: What is it about her that you're reacting to so strongly?
Ms. Birch: Maybe its her eyes.
Dr. Balis: Her eyes?
Ms. Birch: Yes, she had very intense eyes. I generally make a point of looking at the person's eyes when we speak. But with her I had to pull free of her gaze, almost as if she would swallow me up if I didn't. I've only felt that from men before. Usually slimos who are trying to get up my skirt, so to speak. This wasn't like that. She didn't seem to want anything from me other than my attention at the moment.
Dr. Balis: What else did you notice?
Ms. Birch: Well, she was soft spoken though that could have been the alcohol. She was unusually up front.
Dr. Balis: About what?
Ms. Birch: Everything. Her situation, her state of mind, everything. She made no bones about anything.
Dr. Balis: Maybe she had nothing to hide, especially from someone she met in a bar.
Ms. Birch: Maybe, but it's usually not like that. People will ration out their stories, make them a bit more colorful too. Not her though. She answered me simply and it was the naked truth. Something else was striking about her eyes. One was different from the other. Her right eye was green and her left one was gray.
Dr. Balis: When did you meet?
Ms. Birch: We met last Friday.
Dr. Balis: Do you think that you'll meet again?
Ms. Birch: I never know in these cases. She says she's a regular. So I'll try to catch her at the same time this week. If I'm lucky, she'll be there.
Dr. Balis: What do you hope to gain by seeing her again?
Ms. Birch: I'm not hoping to gain anything. I would like to talk more with her, that's all. You men always think in terms of losses and gains.
Dr. Balis: Your husband too?
Ms. Birch: Oh the lot of you in my opinion.
Dr. Balis: That's a pretty strong opinion. You're full of strong opinions today.
Ms. Birch: And what if I am? Jack's always talking to me about my "strong convictions." I say, if a man can't handle a woman with a little back bone, he should marry a slug.
Dr. Balis: Now that's an appealing suggestion.
Ms. Birch: Thank you. I aim to please.
Dr. Balis: Indeed but whom?
Ms. Birch: Doctor Balis!
Dr. Balis: Yes?
Ms. Birch: You're out to get me today.
Dr. Balis: No Phylis. I'm just trying to understand you and to help you understand yourself. Does Jack often try to pressure you to be something that you are not?
Ms. Birch: He's not too bad. But admittedly, when I'm tired or stressed, I've noticed that I'm somewhat less flexible. The double life thing is quite draining. I know I should tell Jack.
Dr. Balis: It would take some pressure off of you. Though there will undoubtedly be new tensions for a period until you and Jack iron things out.
Ms. Birch: But bringing Jack into this means compromising. And I don't feel like compromising on this one.
Dr. Balis: That's true. However, you have the advantage of opening up the negotiations. That's a clear indication that you're trying.
Ms. Birch: That's a good point. So by talking about it and disclosing my secret, I'm taking the first step.
Dr. Balis: Exactly.
Ms. Birch: So then it would be Jack's turn.
Dr. Balis: Yes, except that you were the one lying to him.
Ms. Birch: For a moment there it sounded really good. Why does it sound so awful again?
Dr. Balis: Perhaps you put yourself in Jack's place and didn't like what you saw?
Ms. Birch: I know that what I'm doing is a little out of the ordinary. But that's why he married me, because I'm not ordinary.
Dr. Balis: Do you think that that is why he fell in love with you?
Ms. Birch: It better be part of it.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Birch: It did have a lot to do with it. Dr. Balis, I'm not a miserable bitch to my husband. I love Jack. I do a lot to make certain that he is happy and satisfied with our marriage. But I know him. He wouldn't understand my passion for going to places with questionable appearances and reputations. I've not even managed to convince you of their appeal and you're a neutral party. More then neutral, you're paid to listen to me. You're my therapist! And that would also take a lot of explaining.
Dr. Balis: I don't think that you are a bitch, Phylis. I think that you feel guilty for deceiving Jack. And while I may not yet fully understand your reasons for dive-hopping, I do see that it is very important to you. I believe that you'll be able to convince Jack of the same and begin to work things out.
Ms. Birch: Are you saying that I'm underestimating Jack?
Dr. Balis: I'm saying that you need to believe more in your own ability to communicate, especially with your husband.
Ms. Birch: I'll think about it.
Dr. Balis: Okay Phylis, our time is about up. You can call me if you need to.
Ms. Birch: Thanks. I wish that girl had someone to call.
Dr. Balis: Why do you think that she doesn't?
Ms. Birch: It's just an impression.
Dr. Balis: I'd like to hear more about these impressions. Same time next week okay?
Ms. Birch: Yeah, October 7th. But I might take you up on your offer and call.
Dr. Balis: That's fine. I'll be here. Or else leave a message and I'll get back to you right away.
Ms. Birch: Thanks.
Dr. Balis: Sure. Goodbye Phylis.
Ms. Birch: Goodbye Doctor.
Arrow, Straight, Left, Earlier Arrow, Straight, Right, Later

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

Button to Phylis Birch's Transcripts Transcripts of Phylis Birch's Therapy Sessions
Button to Phylis Birch's Patient File Phylis Birch's Patient File

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