PTSD is brutal. Severe dissociation is an elaborate hiding game from yourself. The most difficult challenge is to choose authenticity in a world that wants you to “Don’t worry, be happy.” Feeling what you feel when others tell you to ‘fake it until you make it’ is a difficult challenge. Sometimes I prefer to be home with my feelings then to try to live a socially acceptable lie. I lived without feelings for years. Dissociation allowed me to totally disconnect how I felt. Numbness at a level that no one could reach my authentic self, including me. My counselor was surprised at how completely I could disconnect from my emotions. He used anger as a way to get clients talking about their life more openly. He attempted to make me angry. He said things that would most likely irritate or upset most people. It started working with me. I realized I was getting angry. I was well trained like a Pavlov dog not to show anger. I made my anger vanish. Please, understand it wasn’t really gone. I would dissociate the emotion and tuck into a mental hiding place. My counselor stopped when he saw that my anger was gone. He pointed out that there was no tension in my face. I was totally relaxed when seconds before I was getting angry. He then asked the 6 million dollar question, “Where did it go?” I looked at him blankly. I didn’t know. I had no idea how to reach it. I couldn’t feel anything. When I shut off my feelings I didn’t just shut off anger. I shut off hurt, disappointment, frustration, happiness, joy, love in other words the entire spectrum of emotion was stuffed away in little ugly boxes in my mind with ‘do not disturb’ stamped all over it. To be authentic, I had to disturb those boxes. I do not recommend this activity without counselor supervision for a reason. Unfortunately, to reconnect my feelings the ugly, violent emotions came first. They demanded center stage at every session for weeks…months and sometimes it felt like years. I finally did reach my authentic self. Clearing away the puss of years of emotional neglect was painful and frustrating but oh so worth it. I still remember the first day I felt pure happiness. I can guarantee you no amount of faking it ever got me to this emotion. The reward for cutting through the tough stuff is joy. First, I accepted my own disconnection. Next, I faced my own emotions, then I accepted that my authentic self was much different from the masks I hid behind. I accepted that who I am was worth the effort of getting through the pain to get to me. ‘Faking it until I make it’ just slowed down becoming my authentic self.