Transcript of 10th Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Ms. Rachel Tanner, Friday, April 10, 1998 at 3:00 pm.

Ms. Tanner: What's up, Doc?
Dr. Balis: Hello, Rachel. You're in a good mood today.
Ms. Tanner: One, I'm on Spring Break. And two, Michael and Evan are coming by this afternoon. Life is good.
Dr. Balis: Glad to hear it. Do you have any special plans?
Ms. Tanner: Tonight? Just to ditch my grandma after dinner. Gram is doing a big food fest. A couple of the neighbors are coming over, too. It might be weird for us all to sit around the dinner table. Michael hasn't been home since he left two years ago.
Dr. Balis: Does your grandmother entertain very often?
Ms. Tanner: Rarely. She has tables and food set up for bridge sometimes, but it isn't exactly party time or anything. Pretty boring. This probably will be too, except for Evan being there, of course.
Dr. Balis: You're looking forward to his visit.
Ms. Tanner: Oh yeah! But I also want to see Michael. I worry about my little brother. I talk to him by e-mail regularly, but I don't really know how he's doing until I see him. Do you know what I mean?
Dr. Balis: No, explain.
Ms. Tanner: He's always been good at bullshitting, excuse the language. He could really yank my mom around. He tried doing it with Gram, too, but she called him on it. They locked horns a lot. But he can be...what's the word for it? Dishonest. He's very clever. So seeing him in person is better; I can read him and see his facial expressions.
Dr. Balis: That makes sense. Rachel, excuse me for changing the subject, but did you join that writing group you were talking about last time?
Ms. Tanner: Yes! That's what I wanted to tell you about. I inquired about the group the week after our session, and then I actually went to a meeting. I think it's going to be great for me. The hardest part was getting Gram to give me a ride. The meetings are at 7:00 p.m. and she is hooked on Jeopardy. But I talked her into it. See? I can be manipulative, too.
Dr. Balis: How many people were at the meeting?
Ms. Tanner: Seven, but I guess usually there are more. It's at Mattie's house--she's the one who invited me. There were two other women and three guys. I felt pretty comfortable. During the session, the group comes up with some cool project for everyone to do for next time. Sometimes it's spontaneous, and sometimes it's from this book full of creative writing ideas. This week, we have to imagine a day which started by waking up transformed into the opposite sex and then write about our day in a new gender. I'm having fun with it. And that's just it--because we're there to share writing, I don't feel that weird sitting with strangers in someone's house. And two of the people there are in my speech class already, so we aren't complete strangers. But the writing is the focus.
Dr. Balis: You said you were having fun with the writing. Does that mean that you don't feel the need to edit and reedit to achieve perfection?
Ms. Tanner: I don't feel like I'm going to be graded or judged. The purpose is different, so I'm more relaxed. Also, they really seem to like what I write.
Dr. Balis: That's great. So what's bothering you?
Ms. Tanner: Excuse me?
Dr. Balis: What's bothering you?
Ms. Tanner: Why are you asking me that?
Dr. Balis: You're fidgeting.
Ms. Tanner: I don't think anything is bothering me. I'm excited about my brother coming to visit, I guess.
Dr. Balis: I see. How old is your brother?
Ms. Tanner: He's a couple years younger than me. He turned twenty in December.
Dr. Balis: What do you remember about growing up with him?
Ms. Tanner: We were pretty close, especially when we were little because we shared a room. I think we kind of took care of each other, too. My dad was busy, and my mom was...well, you know.
Dr. Balis: In an earlier session, you mentioned your mother driving you here and there when you were in high school. What was she like earlier? Do you remember her OCD symptoms when you were really young?
Ms. Tanner: How do you remember these things, Doctor Balis?
Dr. Balis: I take notes.
Ms. Tanner: So you look at my notes before our sessions? What else did you dig up?
Dr. Balis: Can you answer my question first?
Ms. Tanner: Okay. My mom spent a lot of time inside. When we were at home, she was always in the house. She used to open the window and call out when she wanted to check on us. I can still hear the sliding sound as the window opened and the slamming as it shut afterwards. She took us to Gram's house every other day. She stayed inside there, too, sitting on the rocking chair in the family room. I remember her rocking. She seemed pretty normal to us, until one of Michael's friends said something.
Dr. Balis: What did he say?
Ms. Tanner: He asked why she was always rocking. Then kids at school teased she was "off her rocker." That's when Michael started getting in trouble. He became a fighter. Back then, he didn't know how to talk about things, he'd just blast off. In second grade, he lost a tooth in a fight at recess. I couldn't believe it.
Dr. Balis: How did your father react to the trouble?
Ms. Tanner: He interrogated my brother first. Then he went to the kid's house and talked to his parents or threatened them. That particular kid stopped teasing, I can tell you that.
Dr. Balis: So you think your father might have threatened them?
Ms. Tanner: He had quite a temper. Michael's like that, too. But I think Michael is a lot smarter than my dad
Dr. Balis: When is the last time you saw your father?
Ms. Tanner: About eight years ago. No, wait. He came to the funeral, summer of '95. Asshole.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Tanner: He pretended to be grieving. He brought his little concubine with him. Big car, little class. He dyed his hair red. I couldn't believe it. It made him easier to hate.
Dr. Balis: Why do you hate him?
Ms. Tanner: He ruined my mother. She was like a kept woman. He basically told her what to wear, how to act, when to wipe.
Dr. Balis: You have a lot of anger towards him.
Ms. Tanner: And there's more where that came from.
Dr. Balis: Go on.
Ms. Tanner: I'm getting all worked up here. I wanted to end this session a little early because of Michael and Evan and all. Can't we do this another time?
Dr. Balis: I prefer that we continue. This is only the second time I've heard you speak of your father with any detail. You said there was more. We still have thirty minutes. I feel like I'm getting closer to understanding your feelings toward your father. Would you please continue?
Ms. Tanner: There's more because I saw more. I heard more. I heard the animal in him grunting and going after my mom. She was so weak, but he just didn't leave her alone. She used to come out of the bedroom red-eyed and not really put together right. She wandered around the house humming and just kept walking. Maybe she was counting her steps. Now that I think about her walking around like that, it almost seems like she could have been counting. I walked in on them once. I was probably about eleven.
Dr. Balis: It is common for kids to catch their parents having sex.
Ms. Tanner: Not like that. I might be very naive, but that wasn't the kind of sex normal people have, I'm sorry.
Dr. Balis: What did you see?
Ms. Tanner: She was on her hands and knees on the floor in a dress. At first, I thought she was looking for something under the bed, but there was something about the way he was moving behind her that told me otherwise. His pants were bunched up around his knees, and he had her hair wrapped around his hand, pulling so hard that her neck was twisted around. I'll never forget the way she looked when she saw me open the door. She looked wild.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Tanner: He thought he could just take her whenever he wanted. He never thought about his kids, or her illness, or what it was like to be left behind.
Dr. Balis: Who was left behind?
Ms. Tanner: Me! We all were, when he split.
Dr. Balis: Rachel, did your father ever try to do things to you that were not appropriate? Did he touch you where he shouldn't have?
Ms. Tanner: Why are you asking me all these questions? I didn't do anything wrong. He did!
Dr. Balis: What did he do?
Ms. Tanner: He...yes, he touched me. God, I've never told anyone this!
Dr. Balis: It's okay, Rachel. It's okay to talk about it.
Ms. Tanner: He made me touch him, too. He put my hand on his penis and...and he ejaculated.
Dr. Balis: Rachel, you didn't do anything wrong, he did. Did it happen only once?
Ms. Tanner: There was only one time. But it's enough to screw me up, isn't it?
Dr. Balis: It's more complicated than that.
Ms. Tanner: I can't blame my OCD on him?
Dr. Balis: Probably not, although your father clearly didn't help matters any. But it's better to find resilience than identify blame. You're a fighter, Rachel. You're stronger than you think. Your determination has brought you many successes. In many ways, you've struggled, taken risks, expressed your feelings, and moved on despite OCD.
Ms. Tanner: I'll never stop hating him.
Dr. Balis: Some people never get over their anger. I'm not sure you need to. It depends on whether the anger interferes with your relationships or your feelings of self worth. And we've started to explore some of those issues already.
Ms. Tanner: Yeah. Sorry about last time.
Dr. Balis: Don't ever apologize for wanting to express your sexuality. You are a vibrant, attractive young woman. I have to caution you, though. Now that you've brought out some strong feelings about your father, it may trigger some other emotions, maybe even dreams. I don't want you to be surprised by them, just aware. It would be a very good time to get back to your journal. When patients dig as deep as you just have, other things may come up. I just want you to be kind to yourself. Remember that what he did was wrong, illegal, and unfair. You were an innocent child.
Ms. Tanner: Yeah...
Dr. Balis: You can't change the past, but you might change how you feel about it. How do you feel now?
Ms. Tanner: I feel okay. My little secret...I'm glad he isn't around. I don't have to think about it as much. I guess I could write a few things about it in my journal, just to process some stuff. Good idea, Doc.
Dr. Balis: Are you ready to end the session? I'm afraid it wasn't a short one, after all.
Ms. Tanner: I guess so. What if I want to talk to you more about it?
Dr. Balis: We meet in two weeks, but feel free to call. Okay?
Ms. Tanner: Yeah. Now I'm going to go and try to have fun.
Dr. Balis: The psyche has a way of protecting itself. The thoughts and memories will come back, but probably later. You're going to be rather distracted tonight, right?
Ms. Tanner: Right. See you soon. Thanks, Doctor Balis.
Dr. Balis: I'll see you in two weeks. Take care, Rachel.
Ms. Tanner: Goodbye, Doctor.
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Button to Dr. Balis' Notes Doctor Balis' Notes on this Session

Button to Rachel Tanner's Transcripts Transcripts of Rachel Tanner's Communications
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