‘We all like to associate ourselves with products of distinction,’ I said brightly, to no one in particular. We all like to associate ourselves, we all like to associate ourselves. It is important for a man of my calibre to associate himself with products of distinction. Otherwise how would anyone know that I was a person of calibre? They certainly wouldn’t know by looking at me, I said to myself glumly. They certainly wouldn’t know by the cut of me. My higher self was fed up with the abysmal stupidity of my life and it had walked out on me. It given up on me in disgust. It was disappointed in me for being so weak. This was the thought that kept coming to me! That’s if there was such a thing as a higher self, of course. Maybe there wasn’t. Quite possibly there wasn’t. How was I to know anyway? We all like to associate ourselves with products of distinction, I reassured myself after a moment of reflection. I wasn’t a freak or anything like that. It’s not as if I am abnormal, I reassured myself, remembering the importance of self affirmation at moments of self-doubt. ‘I’m not a freak,’ I told myself, remembering the importance of coping skills. ‘Remember to use your coping skills’, my therapist told me in our final session. We have provided you with the tools and now it’s up to you to put them into practice, said my inner therapist, an evil smile spreading like a stain on his face. It’s important to remember, it’s important to remember. My evil inner therapist, my evil inner therapist. ‘It’s important to cope, it’s important to cope,’ I told myself. I was all at sea. I was like a drowning man. I couldn’t remember what the coping strategies were but I remembered that it was important to use them. I remembered that all right! I remembered that it was important to cope. That was all that was left to me. It’s important to cope, it’s important to cope, I told myself. That was all that was left to me, that was all I could come up with. It was my last-ditch affirmation – the one I would never forget. It’s important to cope, it’s important to cope, it’s important to cope I blabbered helplessly. I was a tool of vast impersonal forces. It’s important to cope, I tell myself, after a long period of silence. I could see the face of my evil inner therapist, his smile spreading like a stain, spreading like an oil slick. Slick Harry they call him – he’s got a face for every occasion! He’s in me, and I’m in him – I couldn’t survive without him. It’s important to, it’s important to, I mumbled indistinctly. My last-ditch affirmation – the affirmation that I needed an affirmation. That was all that I had left to me! I was the helpless tool of my own dysfunctional coping strategies.