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Elin Nordegren went "through hell" during her drawn out split with Tiger Woods, losing sleep, weight and even hair as each new tawdry revelation tore away the trust their marriage had been built on, the Swedish ex-model told People in an exclusive interview.
Nordegren, whose divorce with the golf superstar was finalized this week, said they tried to patch things up but in the end she could not get past the long list of alleged mistresses her husband had kept on the side while she thought they had an idyllic family life.
"I have been through the stages of disbelief and shock, to anger and ultimately grief over the loss of the family I so badly wanted for my children," she told the magazine. "I felt stupid as more things were revealed. How could I not have known anything? The word betrayal is not strong enough. I felt like my whole world had fallen apart.
"I've been through hell."
Nordegren, 30, who married Woods in 2004 in Barbados and bore two children with him, would not say how much money she will get in the divorce settlement. While published reports have said it could be more than $100 million, she said the money is no substitute for the perfect life she once believed in.
"Money can't buy happiness or put my family back together," she said.
Nordegren said there was no violence in their marriage, and dismissed rumors that she went after her husband with a golf club last Thanksgiving after learning he'd cheated on her as "ridiculous." But she did admit laughing at some of the comedic coverage of her painful breakup, particularly an SNL skit that had her glowering as her husband cowered.
Nordegren said she will raise daughter Sam, 3, and son Charlie, 19 months, in Florida, where they can be near their father. She said she has enrolled at a local college where she will pursue a degree in psychology.
"I also feel stronger than I ever have. I have confidence in my beliefs, my decisions and myself," she said. "My immediate plan is for the kids and me to continue to adjust to our new situation. I am going to keep taking classes, but my main focus is to try to give myself time to heal," she says.
Woods, who released a statement to the magazine calling it a "painful, personal and private time" and praising his ex-wife's commitment to their kids, spoke at The Barclays, in Paramus, N.J., where he's playing in a PGA Tournament.
"I wish her the best in everything," he said. "You know, it's a sad time in our lives. And we're looking forward to [rebuilding] our lives and how we can help our kids the best way we possibly can. And that's the most important thing."
Asked again whether he still loves his ex-wife, Woods replied: "And that's the most important thing."