Meet Josie Benitez.

Last night was my last session of therapy, for the time. Hallelujah, I am cured! Freed from my demon mind!

Yeah, as if it works like that. It’s just that NHS psychotherapy services (which I am INCREDIBLY GRATEFUL for, don’t get me wrong) are seriously underfunded and understaffed, and I was only allocated six sessions of talking therapy because that’s all there is. If I want to continue I will either have to pay, or visit my GP to try and cadge six more free sessions (which will be my LAST allocation of free sessions). And I think I do want – need – to continue.

Yesterday was a really difficult session. Normally* I walk into therapy trepidatious and out again with a lightness in my step, but yesterday I got the bus home whilst seriously turning over the implications of the session in my mind. I’ll spare you the details (this is a blog, not the fucking Eat, Pray, Love manuscript), but it was a big revelation which connected several of the themes I have talked about: my anxiety is because I don’t think I’m good enough. Sounds so simple, doesn’t it? But it’s so, so complicated: bourne from the dichotomies in my personality and what society expects of me is a deep-rooted and complex anxiety that I need to be better, which I justify by being obsessively ‘rational’. It’s a really difficult thing for me to admit, to articulate; it’s going to be even more difficult to get over being so hard on myself.

The biggest thing to come out of this whole course of counselling is the suggestion** my therapist made that I ought to name the niggle in the back of my head, the voice that tells me any aspect of myself is insufficient, so: meet Josie Benitez.

It was surprisingly easy to think of the name. When I was much, much younger, and I had just begun to seriously write songs and poems** I signed them with a flourish of a signature that was not my name: Josie Benitez. I liked it in italic, beginning with a large J and ending with a long-tailed Z. Josie Benitez wrote the lyrics to two albums and illustrated them with stylistic stickman drawings. Josie Benitez was a wannabe, wanting to be famous, older, prettier, edgier, appealing in some undefined way. She wrote about drug abuse and had a MySpace page where she claimed to be from Vegas and put up a capella songs (she was friends with Katrina and The Waves, Jefferson Starship and Alt-J and coded her own profile. I miss MySpace). I chose her as the name for my demon inner voice because she is part of me. Josie wants the same things I do, but bigger, and more populist. Back in those days she had my handwriting, but neater; she had my singing voice, but better, because she practised (in the bathroom, in case my parents came home). I picked the name then because it sounded glamorous and exotic and like somebody I wasn’t. I picked the name now so that every time ‘her’ voice comes into my mind, I can tell myself that I am enough. I am.

Do therapists have to make you cry before they feel successful? Do they have to make you so shocked at your own thoughts and feelings that you break down? Is that a stage of Jungian analysis? If it is, I’m nearly there. In my last session I didn’t cry, but I was so agitated that I couldn’t keep my hands still or meet my therapist’s eye until the end.

  • Move items from basket to wishlist. You cannot spend £600 on books and Mighty Boosh DVDs.
  • Go swimming on Friday night, in what was the therapy timeslot
  • Clean makeup brushes!!

*historically? since it’s over now

** it wasn’t a suggestion, it was basically a command, but friendlier

***I wrote my first song at six years old, and consistently wrote short stories and the beginnings of play and film scripts all through my childhood. At the time I’m talking about, I’m probably about fourteen.


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I gave up journalism and took up writing. Get your alternative Sunday paper here!

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