Re: Here via ffvii_fandom Cloud had the better coping mechanisms because he could point to reminders of the whole experience. Also, I figure Cloud is an intravert, which means he gets his validation from inside his own head (which is why he went kinda crackers when Sephiroth started messing with how he was thinking, and also why he didn't quite seem to trust the way the others said "hey, we know you and we trust you") which means he doesn't really count on the external reality to back him up. He can therefore cope through a lot of the weirder bits of life, and then break down into a gibbering mess later (which accounts for the difference between Cloud at the end of the game and Cloud at the beginning of AC).
That's pretty much how he works, and it's also why fanon Cloud feels so wrong to me; fanon Cloud has much more in common with Tifa than Cloud himself, but while they share a lot of flaws in canon (putting others on pedestal, tendency to denial, communication trouble), they're also fundamentally different from each other. Yet Cloud ends up with Tifa's I-don't-mind-being-kicked-in-the-head syndrome while Tifa gets Cloud's rough edges with some exaggeration sauce. It's really rare to see anything where they're both done justice, so I'm glad you put effort into trying to understand Tifa.