Transcript of 19th Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Ms. Sylvia Bows, Tuesday, November 19th, 1996 at 4 pm.

Dr. Balis: Hello Sylvia. How are you feeling? How are the boys?
Ms. Bows: I'm fine. I think the boys are getting ready to join the circus.
Dr. Balis: Moving around a lot?
Ms. Bows: It feels like they are wrestling and doing gymnastics in there. You don't even have to touch my stomach--you can just see them move even through my clothing.
Dr. Balis: Are they active now?
Ms. Bows: Like true performers, they do their acts mostly at night and sleep during the day.
Dr. Balis: You are getting quite big. What does Doctor Malleson say about bed-rest?
Ms. Bows: Oh it's imminent. I just wish that it all would happen on my terms.
Dr. Balis: What do you mean? I know you'll do everything you can for the twins.
Ms. Bows: If Doctor Malleson puts me on bed-rest today I wouldn't hesitate for a minute. But it's Tom. He was really freaked about Richard and me last week.
Dr. Balis: He knows about Richard?
Ms. Bows: Well, it looks like I might have encouraged Richard just a bit too much.
Dr. Balis: You mean letting him think that you are considering his marriage proposal?
Ms. Bows: I never said that I was considering it. I was just really flattered that he was seriously thinking and hoping to be the father of my children and that he wants to spend the rest of his life with me. You have to admit that it is a big step--a lot of commitments all at once.
Dr. Balis: I understood that Richard was really serious about his proposal. But I was also led to believe from our last session that you are more than flattered and that under different circumstances you might...
Ms. Bows: Exactly--under different circumstances I might have found myself saying yes to Richard. But now...I'm still married and...
Dr. Balis: What about after you divorce Tom?
Ms. Bows: That seems so far off right now. But I'm thinking about the boys and the future. I would like to tell you about something that happened a few days ago, Doctor. It really affected me quite a bit.
Dr. Balis: Of course.
Ms. Bows: I had dinner with Rene and Robert. We talked about children and parenting during dinner. Afterwards, as Rene was cleaning up, Robert came to me and said that he would like to talk to me seriously. He pulled up a chair and sat right across from me and looked straight into my eyes as he spoke.
Dr. Balis: And?
Ms. Bows: He told me how it was growing up without a father. He said that he always envied other kids who had both parents, even if they are divorced. He told me that when he was a kid, he would watch other children at the playground with their fathers and then go home and cry in his room. He even told me that for a while he had an imaginary father. He said that he never told this to anyone before but that he wanted me know how it really is.
Dr. Balis: What did he do with his imaginary father?
Ms. Bows: The way Robert explained it, it was his real father but he pretended that he was still alive. Robert's room is full of pictures of his dad. It's almost a shrine. I don't know why I never really noticed that. I guess I was never close to my dad so...well Robert told me about his fantasy. It's quite elaborate. Robert said that he imagined that he found his father's body and was able to bring it back to life. But he had to keep it a secret from everyone or something bad would happen.
Dr. Balis: Did Robert say what that bad thing would be?
Ms. Bows: I asked him, but he said that he never really knew. He just knew that it would be bad and so he kept his father a secret. Robert told me that he and his father would go for walks and talk about all kinds of things. He said that his father even taught him how to play chess. When I asked Robert how it was possible since he clearly knew now that it was all a fantasy, Robert got really evasive.
Dr. Balis: Did you get a feeling that Robert might still believe in his fantasy?
Ms. Bows: I don't know. He was strange about it. On the one hand, he clearly knew that it was all a fantasy but there was also a sense of reality to it. I'm not sure I'm communicating this right. It was almost as if Robert believed that his father was real and unreal at the same time. It was clearly a very difficult thing for him to do--to come to me and speak to me about all of this.
Dr. Balis: So Robert was telling you all this because you're about to have children without a father?
Ms. Bows: Yes. He was trying to tell me how hard it would be for them.
Dr. Balis: Was he trying to persuade you to stay married to Tom?
Ms. Bows: He was never that specific. He said that he just wanted me to understand what it was like. I asked him if he ever wanted for his mom to get married again--this way he could have a step dad. But Robert said that while that might be nice, it was not the same as a real father.
Dr. Balis: A real father being a biological one?
Ms. Bows: Yes. He told me that when my sons come to him for help in finding their true fathers, he would do all he could to help them discover the true identity of those men.
Dr. Balis: Did you ask how he was planning to go about doing that?
Ms. Bows: I didn't have to--Robert told me that he was keeping careful records and that he would reveal them to my children if they ever asked.
Dr. Balis: Does he have knowledge of your sexual encounters over the last couple of months?
Ms. Bows: Apparently. I asked how he knew. But Robert just told me that he had his ways. I was worried that he might actively suggest to my boys the need to find the identities of their true fathers. But Robert assured me that he would only come forth with his information if they came to him first.
Dr. Balis: What else did Robert tell you?
Ms. Bows: He described some really tender moments in his childhood--when his imaginary dad came to his rescue, how they used to play together all the time, how he used to read books to him, secret Christmas presents he got from his dad...there was a lot. It was very difficult for me not to cry as Robert was telling me about all this. I thought that I was close to him but I never suspected...I wish I knew.
Dr. Balis: Does Robert's mom...does Rene know about all this?
Ms. Bows: Robert made me promise never to tell his mom. I feel bound by that promise even though I think that she should know.
Dr. Balis: Do you think that Rene might suspect it independently--just from observation?
Ms. Bows: If Rene ever suspected something like this, I would have been the first to know. I don't think Rene knows anything about this. Robert was always such a quiet child, very introspective and introverted. He would play by himself for hours at a time. I never suspected that he was actually playing with his father. God, I hope this is not the fate of my children!
Dr. Balis: Robert's revelations really affected you?
Ms. Bows: I've been thinking about nothing else since that evening. I want my children to be very happy. I don't want them to have to invent an imaginary father to fill an emotional gap in their lives.
Dr. Balis: Just because an imaginary father was Robert's way of coping with his loss, does not mean that your children would adapt the same strategy. Robert never got to know his dad. And because of his tragic death, Robert created a myth that helped him deal with his own emotional needs. Your children will not be faced with the death of their father but rather with the mystery of their origins. If there'll come a time when they ask you about their real fathers you...
Ms. Bows: I won't be able to tell them much. What should I say Doctor? Should I tell them about the list? Should I make probability charts for them like Richard made for me? I just don't know.
Dr. Balis: So you never really thought about this problem before?
Ms. Bows: No it just never came up. I was too busy trying to get pregnant and than Tom...I can just picture them going to Tom: "Yes, your mother was a whore. I tried to stop her but she just went ahead and slept with every man in sight."
Dr. Balis: Sylvia stop it. You are going overboard speculating about this. Your children haven't even been born yet. Let's concentrate on the problems at hand, okay?
Ms. Bows: Sorry Doctor. I'm really a lot more emotional and moody now.
Dr. Balis: That's since you were pregnant?
Ms. Bows: I guess. And I think I'm also tired and that contributes to my inability to deal. I guess I was talking about Tom when I got sidetracked?
Dr. Balis: I'm glad we talked about Robert. We will come back and talk about him some more in the future.
Ms. Bows: Thank you Doctor. I hope you don't think he is crazy.
Dr. Balis: I really don't. Robert is not the first child to have an imaginary friend.
Ms. Bows: Sure. You are right. So about Tom. Tom was furious about my stay with Richard. He's hired a live-in nurse to watch over me. I feel like I'm being spied on in my own home. I've seen her writing reports about me--what I ate and when I ate, how much I slept, when I left for work and when I came home...she even brings me lunch.
Dr. Balis: So you are still going to work?
Ms. Bows: The nurse takes me. I no longer have driving privileges. It's just absurd. I don't know why Kelly is letting them get away with this. And I'm crazy for going along. I just feel that sometimes I need a little break from fighting everybody all the time. But this is what happens when I do--a live-in pest.
Dr. Balis: I gather that you don't like her very much?
Ms. Bows: Oh she is probably fine. It's just that she is working for Tom and not for me. Her loyalties are not where they are supposed to be. You know what I mean? I think that Tom made her believe that I'm some sort of a monster trying to murder my children. I hate the way that woman looks at me.
Dr. Balis: So bed-rest has been postponed?
Ms. Bows: Not for long. As I said, if only this was coming from Doctor Malleson, I would still hate it but I would be the most exemplary patient. But I feel like this is all just bullshit. Just a way of wearing me down physically and emotionally.
Dr. Balis: Have you talked to Doctor Malleson about this?
Ms. Bows: His recommendation is to start bed-rest at about twenty-two weeks. By that time, the twins will be heavy enough to potentially cause problems for my cervix.
Dr. Balis: You're eighteen weeks now?
Ms. Bows: Yes. Oh and I forgot to tell you, Richard spoke with Tom.
Dr. Balis: Did he?
Ms. Bows: That's what I meant by encouraging him too much. He decided to take on the responsibility of protecting me from Tom. He called me at home and Tom answered the phone. We really should get separate numbers.
Dr. Balis: So what did Richard and Tom talk about?
Ms. Bows: Richard told Tom that he thought that he should take my rejection as a man and let me go on with my life. Tom told Richard that a man who fucks another man's wife has no business calling and demanding favors from the husband. He told Richard that now that he knows who he is he is going to...I don't know what he is going to do but you get the picture Doctor. I was in my bedroom when Richard called and I could hear from Tom's voice that it must have been Richard on the phone. It was ugly. I had to speak with Richard the next day to calm him down and explain to him the rules of this game. I told him never to call me at home again. He seemed crushed by that but...I think it will be awhile before he calls me there again.
Dr. Balis: What about Tom?
Ms. Bows: I guess Tom now believes that Richard is the father. Perhaps I should have a talk with him as well. Maybe it's about time he found out about the list. Well Doctor, it's getting late. Same time next week?
Dr. Balis: Same time. Tuesday the 26th at 4 pm. I'll see you than. Take care of yourself Sylvia.
Ms. Bows: Goodbye Doctor. See you in a week.
Dr. Balis: Goodbye Sylvia.
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