I'm Clifford Stumme, and I use literary analysis and research to explain the deeper meanings of pop songs. Feel free to leave a comment or to email me at with questions or ideas!

What does "Trauma" by NF mean?

What does "Trauma" by NF mean?

“Trauma” Lyrics Meaning

The only non-rap song, NF has shared that “Trauma” is his favorite track from “The Search.” The song centers around a heartfelt appeal to a savior figure, whether that be God or a loved one, to try harder to save him from his traumas.

“Trade my joy for my protection” 

This line represents a recurring theme in “The Search.” The places he’s been, no matter how dangerous, were familiar, and so they felt safe. By searching for freedom, and trying to leave behind the pain of the past, he realizes how much more frightening it is, because it’s an unknown. The choice between joy and familiarity, freedom and comfortable pain, is the central theme of “The Search,” and shows NF’s personal journey to stepping out of his old perception in order to find hope.

As always, while this analysis will use “NF is dealing with...” or “NF thinks...” statements, these are only to explain what he is expressing in the lyrics. While NF is an artist who is largely autobiographical in his songs, it doesn’t mean that everything stated in his songs are or aren’t about him. NF is a phenomenal emotional storyteller, and while those stories are often true, unless he says so, we can’t be sure what elements are about his life. Either way, these lyrics are very raw and personal in nature and tell an intense and moving story. 

Verse 1

Say you're there when I feel helpless

If that's true, why don't you help me?

It's my fault, I know I'm selfish

Stand alone, my soul is jealous

It wants love, but I reject it

Trade my joy for my protection

Though he views this person as his savior, they don’t appear to be helping him when he needs them. Rather than blame them, he admits it’s his fault for being selfish. If he could learn to value joy over what he thinks will protect him, he might be able to achieve true freedom. This line is a reference to “Let Me Go” where he says to his lies, “You promise protection, I don't feel protected.” He knows he needs to let these lies go and give up their false protection for true joy, but he doesn’t know how to.

Whoever the “you” is, he views them as a savior figure, but believes they may be a flawed one. It is possible that he could be speaking to a loved one, and is frustrated that they aren’t able to save him from his pain. However, the other most likely alternative is that he is speaking to God, and is questioning His love for him due to the intensity of his pain. Because NF has named God in this album especially as the one he turns to for peace and relief from his depression, this is the most likely. However, until NF comments on it, there is no way of knowing for sure, though this interpretation fits with the messages of other songs on “The Search” and his style.


Grab my hand, I'm drowning

I feel my heart pounding

Why haven't you found me yet?

I hold you so proudly

Traumas, they surround me

I wish you'd just love me back

Calling out to this person, he begs them to save him before it’s too late. He holds onto them and values his connection with them with pride but he doesn’t understand why they haven’t found him, and worse, why they don’t love him back. 

If this is about God, he is likely sharing the way he feels about God when it’s hard to hear Him. Even though he knows God loves him, it doesn’t seem like it when he’s lost and things don’t appear to be improving as his traumas threaten to drown him.

Verse 2

Say you're here, but I don't feel it

Give me peace, but then you steal it

Watch them laugh at all my secrets

Scream and yell, but I feel speechless

Ask for help, you call it weakness

Lied and promised me my freedom

The promises that have been made aren’t being kept. Whether that is NF’s mind or in reality. The emphasis in this song is on how he perceives this person. Is he singing to someone he has mistakenly put his trust in, or a true savior who he is mistakenly doubting? The reason it’s so hard to pinpoint is because NF doesn’t answer this question in the lyrics. He leaves it to his listeners to draw their own conclusions. 

This person has promised him peace, only to potentially take it from him, and stand by as people laugh at NF’s secrets (likely personal feelings he’s released in songs). He asks for help, but the one he looks to for it calls it weakness. If he’s talking about someone who truly doesn’t have his best interests at heart, this is to be taken literally. If not, he may be projecting his own feelings onto them.

Deeper Meaning of “Trauma” by NF

“Trauma” is about how our perception can be distorted when we’re in pain. We can view those trying to help us, or even God, as uncaring because we don’t understand reality. We can also mistake lies for truths that will protect us, and think that by being afraid it will keep us from doing things that will hurt us. That NF is questioning his perception is a good thing. It means he’s preparing to change it, and that he won’t stop until he reconciles his perspective to the reality of who God is, who he is, and where his lies are hiding.

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