Since we're all up at this awful GMT-5 hour...boy, talk about companionship!
See if this registers at all, Jude:
I did inpatient codep treatment years ago. I was ready for it and jumped in with both feet...curling up in the corner the first day, in front of a group of strangers, crying, screaming, etc. That was raw and real (vis-a-vis my pain).
My personal trap - given all my issues - is sometimes I've felt that unless I'm in agonizing emotional pain, it's not real. What about all the other feelings?
I still struggle sometimes with my knack for being gregarious, conversational and genuinely interested in what (some) people have to say. Okay, it started as a survival tool. But it developed into a part of my personality because I found it encouraged people to open up to me.
I have an outstanding sense of humor. Again, a survival tool. If I'm entertaining, I won't get hurt. Or an avoidance tool (as any of us in therapy knows). But it requires mental agility and the ability to appreciate irony, for instance. How often has that helped me cheer someone up? Nor, without it, would I have my two closest friends who tell me I'm the only one who can keep up with their IQs (who? ME? wtf?). A consequence of that is it keeps me on my toes, engaged and I'm always learning something from them.
As I reread the thread, it occurred to me this subject is perfect for a mini Fourth Step, if you're inclined.
(Somehow, traveler, I can't visualize you slobbering)