You made the ego as a device for separating from God. Symbolically, the body is the ego - the hero of the dream. The ego is a machine designed to operate in separation, opposition, and delusion, believing that illusions are reality and that reality is an illusion. Its perspective is that what is true is false/evil, and what is false is the truth. It is convinced that death is salvation from God, and that sin is real.
You who made this ego really are not bound by it at all, since it is imaginary and doesn't really exist. But you chose to believe that it is real. You gave reality to it by using it, since it is a device for turning illusions into reality.
Your decision to identify with it, was an attempt to attract yourself and attach yourself, or cling to, something other than God, like a magnet, which would allow you to attempt to resist the attraction of God.
So you tried to wear the ego like a piece of clothing, and this is pretty literally symbolized by the wearing of the body, which is the symbolic manifestation of the ego - the false self image. It is helpful to recognize that the body itself is the symbol of the ego, within this dream, although this entire dream is also the ego.
Now, in order to try to repel God and attract yourself to something more attractive than His Love, your ego device offers you the pretend opportunity to be magnetized to something else. You hold onto the ego, cling to it, attach to it, attempt to join with it, and try to be one with it. You try to make it your identity.
Your very sense of self you try to give to it, you empower it, you add reality to its illusory nature, and really you are trying to bring it to life. It is like a frankenstein which is made of death, that you pretend can be animated and take over your self. This is the ego's version of raising the dead!
One of the major ways that you accomplish this, and how this symbolically plays out in the dream, is in your identification with the body - the symbol of the ego. The ego is hiding in the body, as the body, as its attempt to withdraw from God and be protected against the truth. This is why the body is fundamentally an idea of sickness, which must eventually disappear when it gives way to the truth. The body is a defense.
Knowing this, each time that you identify with the body and thus the ego, you do so in order to pull yourself away from God. You are trying to rip yourself away from being identified with God and to anchor yourself into some other identity. You're trying to fuse yourself with the ego and body and turn yourself into them.
The closer that you associate with the body, and the more you push God away, the more the body starts to exhibit sickness. Sickness is a defense against God, and it makes the body more real. The more reality you give to the body, the more you are able to become "one" with the ego, and therefore whatever happens to the body is happening to you.
Eventually, a profound "unity" with the ego, as the body, produces death. Death simply means that you've created so much sense of clear distinction and separation between you and God, that you have super-magnetized yourself to the body, and have done everything you can to cut off the source of Life.
The body then cannot be long maintained when it is starved of Life, and the perception that you are disassociated from God makes you perceive that you have no power and no causality. What has no cause cannot exist, so without a cause you will die.
In attempting to overcome this, the journey simply involves giving up the identification with the ego and thus the body. But at first this is going to be difficult. Each time that you find a willingness to expose yourself to the truth, your association with the ego is going to have a major reaction. Since you've come to see through the ego and with the ego, you will interpret the meaning of the truth as the ego would interpret it.
Whatever the truth says, the ego perceives to be false, unwanted, an attack, dangerous and threatening. Whatever the truth claims is true, the ego cannot see clearly or correctly, will read into it, and will see reflected back to it its own ego nightmare, which will be frightening. So this produces a lot of resistance. You will defend the ego, protect its beliefs, side with it, trust it, believe it is telling the truth, and go along with its guidance. You will think you're doing this completely sanely and in order to not only uphold innocence but also to protect your life. You are trying to preserve your sense of self.
No-one in any state of mind wants their self to really be destroyed. Whether your self is identified with your real self, or with the ego self/body, you will protect it and defend it. If you are associated with ego and the ego experiences the truth as an attack, you will defend your ego, believing that you're doing exactly the right thing. However, when you defend the ego, you are choosing death.
Each time that you are aligned with the ego and try to protect it, because you think that you are protecting what you are - what you perceive yourself as - your self/identity - you protect illusions and give reality to them. This cuts you off from God/Life, which is a step towards death. It will produce sickness. So in the name of self-preservation, you will actually believe you're preserving your existence while in fact you are destroying yourself.
This is how people choose to die! This is why all death is a choice and all death is suicide. People don't realize that when they're identified with the ego/body, they keep doing the perfectly natural thing of defending themselves, but because their identity is all caught up in the ego, they inadvertently defend the ego. And that is a major problem. Everyone defends the truth, as they see it, and if the truth is the ego's truth, they will defend it to the death, literally.
Also when you are exposed to the truth, if you are holding onto the ego identity/body and believe/see yourself as the body, you will perceive that the truth is threatening you. Anything in agreement with your current beliefs is seen as truth and anything not in agreement is seen as an unwanted evil attack. This is what makes it difficult to learn to trust God - because initially God is thought to be evil, a threat, a danger, and an attempt to stop you from existing.
This is why you have developed in your mind a sense of a "false God" who is evil, out to get you, wants you to stop existing, is trying to destroy you and wants you dead. This is your ego's view of God. This is its interpretation, and you've made it your interpretation. This is the God of wrath and vengeance and revenge. And this part of you, the ego part, really believes that it is God's will that you die. And it uses this as perfectly rational-seeming justification for why you should die - because it's what God wants for you and you think it's inescapable. This is the death wish.
In order to overcome this "evil God", you need to recognize that your association with the ego has clouded your judgement, has presented the truth as something false, has presented what is false as something true, your whole world is upside down and back to front, and you need to become willing to rediscover what the truth really is.
That's not going to seem easy or welcome, especially to your ego alliance, because the real truth appears as the complete opposite to what the ego believes. It seems to be evil and dangerous, and you will feel tremendous resistance to approaching it. You think it wants you dead, and nobody in their right mind would want to approach their most feared enemy.
However, you need to learn that the God you fear is not REALLY what God is like. The God you think will mean you don't exist, does not REALLY prove you don't exist - that's just what the EGO thinks about God. God demonstrates not only that you exist but that you exist forever, are immortal, eternal, and that God completely supports and sustains you in every way.
This isn't the view of God that the ego will ever be able to see or accept, because it was not designed to do so. It was only designed as a kind of filtration device, to block the truth and invert it, and make illusions seem real. That's all it does and that's all it was meant to do. That's what you designed it to be, and that's why the ego cannot awaken. How can an illusion awaken? The ego isn't really anything at all.
So to awaken, you must awaken FROM the ego, in spite of the ego, and in order to recognize that the ego is not real. Everything the ego perceives and believes in MUST be false and unreal. So you get this choice, to decide who you are going to side with. God or the ego. There isn't really a choice because the ego isn't real and doesn't exist, but it will seem like a choice so long as you think the ego is who you are.
Believing you are the ego goes hand in hand with believing you are a physical body, because the body is the symbol of the ego thought system. And as you expose yourself to truth, mis-perceiving it with the ego will threaten "you", or your sense of self (ego aligned self), and you will want to defend yourself against it. Therefore you will resist the truth, resist waking up, want nothing to do with the Holy Spirit, will not want to entertain the idea of powerful miracles, and you will fear the rejection of God. Not just God's rejection but that, if God is real, you (ego) do not exist.
That is terrifying to the ego, so if YOU have associated yourself with the ego and believe it is you (you are a body), then you will be afraid that you don't exist. You might have noticed when you read ACIM especially at the beginning, that you feel like it is saying a truth that completely ignores you, doesn't even mention you, doesn't acknowledge you, and acts as though you don't even exist.
It can be maddening and make you genuinely angry. This is the ego, because the truth DOES ignore the ego and does not acknowledge it as existing. Because it really doesn't. It simply overlooks it entirely and demonstrates that it is not real. So if you are tied to the ego you will think that this applies to YOU, and that is pretty upsetting.
You might even put up a defense against the truth because you do not want it and see it as an evil enemy, and therefore implement sickness in your body/mind/emotions to try to protect your identity from the truth. You'll try to make the body more real than the truth, and give truth to the body.
This will put power into the ego, will distort your view of yourself as someone little and vulnerable, will shut you off from the Source of Life, and will show up in the body/as the body as sickness and disease. Eventually if you do not choose to be willing to accept the real truth as it is, and not the ego's misinterpretation of it, this will produce death, and you will have chosen it on purpose because you thought you were saving your life.
So really it's a struggle to wake up when you have this ego thing that you made that you are still pretty fond of, which you side with and listen to and trust and use, because it makes you very defensive against the truth and very suspicious of it. Remember the ego will go from suspiciousness to visciousness, and you can bet that with enough exposure to "reality" it will turn viscious in an effort to block it out.
Gradually you will surrender and let go, allow the truth to seep in with little steps of willingness, open yourself up to accepting God as the truth, allow Holy Spirit into your heart and mind, and come to recognize that illusions are not real. This will mean realizing the body is not real, just an illusion, as a symbol of the ego in the mind, and that you do not need it.
Your dependence on it and on the ego's laws regarding what the body needs must also go. And so your mis-identification with the ego will come to an end. Finally you will let go of it, detach from it, and recognize that it is nothing at all. It has no power, it is not real, it holds no truth, it cannot do anything to you, and you are free of it. And having no further purpose or use for it, it will disappear, and it will not be YOU that is disappearing but just something that didn't really exist to begin with.
So you can see this is all really an exercise in identity. Who are you? You've become an ego, but it's not who you are. You cling to it and the body like you're trying to turn it into yourself, or yourself into it. You use the body and your oneness with it through sickness to reinforce your ego's reality and deny God's. All because you are always trying to protect your "self" even if your sense of self is misplaced.
The desire to defend yourself isn't misplaced, although the course says "If I defend myself I am attacked", meaning that if you defend the EGO, you are attacked. Defending your enemy will result in attack. You just don't quite as yet recognize fully the ways in which you and the ego are best buddies, trying to stay associated with it and to keep it ONLY because you've become convinced that it is you.
If you were to recognize clearly that YOU are not the ego at all, and it is nothing but an illusory device, having withdrawn all belief that its illusions are real (including sin and death and sickness and physical matter and the body and the world), then you wouldn't have any real reason to need to defend 'it' AS you, and you'd simply be who you really are. YOU need no defense at all when your sense of identity and self is associated with your Real Self - the Higher Self - or even as Christ.