Mariska Hargitay is speaking out about her tragic childhood, decades after she was able to overcome the biggest heartbreak of her life.
During an interview with PEOPLE, the Law & Order star admitted that she developed "catastrophic thinking" after dealing with her Hollywood star mom's devastating death.
RadarOnline.com readers know that Hargitay's mother, actress Jayne Mansfield, was decapitated in a tragic 1967 car accident that took her life. The Plain Truth actress was just three years old at the time.
Hargitay, 54, said her mom's passing led her to believe the worst would always happen.
"The way I've lived with loss is to lean into it," she told the magazine. "As the saying goes, the only way out is through."
After her mother's death, Hargitay was raised by her model father and his new wife — who also raised her two brothers and three half siblings.
"In my life I've certainly tried to avoid pain, loss, feeling things," she added in her interview. "But I've learned instead to really lean into it, because sooner or later you have to pay the piper."
Speaking of the way she's managed to overcome her dark side and bring positivity to her life, Hargitay said: "Leaning into my loss has been a way of getting myself back. I'm not saying it's easy, and it certainly hasn't ben for me. There's been a lot of darkness. But on the other side things can be so bright."
Speaking of her iconic mother, Jayne Mansfield, Hargitay told her interviewer: "My mother was this amazing, beautiful, glamorous sex symbol — but people didn't know that she played the violin and had a 160 IQ and five kids and loved dogs."
"She was just so ahead of her time. She was an inspiration, she had this appetite for life and I think I share that with her," the actress said before admitting she still sees her beloved mom every time she looks in the mirror. "She's still with me," she assured.
Mariska Hargitay has now been married for thirteen years to actor Peter Hermnn, who she refers to as her "other half." The two share three kids together, and are happier than ever.