In a recent piece, New York Times columnist David Brooks discussed the traits and strategies that best lend themselves to overcoming trauma. Super survivors, as he calls people with an unusually high capacity for this, have "a rock of inner security" instilled by a sense of deep and abiding love in early life, and a tendency to be slightly deluded (in a positive way) about their own abilities yet realistic about the problems they're facing. But, he notes, "recovering from trauma is mainly an exercise in storytelling." It is ultimately a matter of being able to write a new story for yourself, to construct a new narrative that moves you beyond the trauma and allows it to become a thing you can put in your past so that your future remains unwritten by dark psychological forces.
We view time in terms of story: the past, the future and our own lives. We construct the world in metaphors so that we can more easily understand and interpret it. Our brains are constructed to work by story. Maybe it isn't such a surprise then that, sometimes, it's stories that allow us to survive.