Tamar Braxton on the 'Work' She's Doing to Heal from Trauma: 'I Chose to Change My Life'

In one of this week’s cover stories, Tamar Braxton tackles her childhood trauma and her desire to focus on becoming her best self

Tamar Braxton is opening up about her past and how she's moving forward from it.

In one of this week's cover stories, the singer and TV personality talks about surviving a suicide attempt last year, moving away from the world of reality television and confronting the trauma she endured as a child.

Braxton, 44, tells PEOPLE she recently realized she'd never fully dealt with having been repeatedly molested when she was young, an experience she says was brought up in a 2018 taping without her consent.

"How it came out was very traumatic for me," she says. (A WE tv spokesperson declined to comment on Braxton's most recent statements but noted that her past revelations about childhood sexual abuse never aired and were not discussed on her family's reality series, Braxton Family Values.)

"I thought I had successfully buried that part of me, but it was manifesting in different ways," continues Braxton, who was often shown to be on edge and irritable on her shows. "It was coming out in how I dealt with things emotionally, how I looked at situations, how I conducted myself."

For more on Tamar Braxton, pick up this week's issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday, or subscribe now.

tamar braxton
Nolwen Cifuentes

Braxton, who also hosts the podcast Under Construction with Tamar Braxton, says she started to feel boxed into an increasingly negative onscreen persona. Things came to a head during the filming of her WE tv docuseries Tamar Braxton: Get Ya Life!, which she says sensationalized her life as a single mom and her admittedly rocky relationship with former boyfriend David Adefeso.

What precipitated her darkest moment — her suicide attempt on July 16, 2020 — was the thought of her son Logan, she says.

"I didn't want to continue being a disappointment for him," Braxton says. "How can his friends' parents respect me if this is what they see every day? I wouldn't let my kid go over to a child's house if this is what was portrayed on television. In my sickness, I thought that if I can take the embarrassment out of his life, maybe he would have a chance to have the best life."

She has gained clarity since: "I know now that that probably would have destroyed him, that the best life that I can set for him is to be the example, get counseling and show him how to communicate," she says.

Watch the full episode of People Cover Story: Tamar Braxton on PeopleTV.com or on the PeopleTV app.

At the time, Braxton was home with then-7-year-old Logan (whom she shares with her ex-husband, music executive Vincent Herbert) and her then-boyfriend Adefeso, who found her unresponsive, and she was rushed to the hospital.

"That time of my life was so dark and so heavy," she says. "I didn't see how I was going to come out on the other side. I didn't even know that there was another side. But I chose to change my life."

"Most people think, 'Oh, she went to a hotel, probably took a bunch of drugs, was on a binge.' It didn't happen like that. It was just everyday life, trying to figure out how to get through the day and then ..." Braxton continues, stopping short of reliving exactly what happened.

Listen to more of PEOPLE's cover story interview with Tamar Braxton below on our daily podcast PEOPLE Every Day.

Braxton spent a weekend in the hospital before checking herself into a mental health facility for additional treatment for depression and anxiety brought on by traumatic circumstances.

tamar braxton
Nolwen Cifuentes

Reflecting on it all, she says, "I'm not where I was, but there's still work to be done."

And she is vowing to stick with it. "Monday, Wednesday day and Friday, I am with my life coach, and Tuesdays and Thursdays and Saturdays, I'm with my psychiatrist," she shares.

Understanding that she has "a responsibility," Braxton says: "I chose to live my life out loud; I have to do the work because people are watching me."

Wardell Malloy, Braxton's longtime friend, sees her doing that work: "Tamar is human, with real emotion and real pain," he tells PEOPLE. "She's in the process of healing and being the best Tamar Braxton she can be for herself and her son."

Now, Braxton is committed to motherhood and being the best version of herself.

"I'm dedicated to being the best mom, the best person I can be," she says. "I am moving forward."

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual abuse, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

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