Peter Kramer/NBC/Getty
Peter Kramer/NBC/Getty

Five years after leaving the Today show, Ann Curry is revealing how she made it through dark times — and her life away from the morning grind.

Sitting down exclusively with PEOPLE for this week’s issue (on stands Friday), the anchor opens up for the first time about her exit from the NBC morning show in 2012, an ordeal that came complete with gossip-column speculation that her firing had been due in part to a lack of “chemistry” with her co-anchor Matt Lauer. (Lauer, 60, was fired in November for alleged sexual misconduct.)

After her tearful farewell on June 28, 2012 — “I’m sorry I couldn’t carry the ball over the finish line, but, man, I did try!” she said at the time — Curry, 61, who has won seven Emmys, interviewed world leaders, covered natural disasters and reported from war zones, was suddenly adrift.

“It hurt like hell,” she says. “It hurt so much, but I learned a lot about myself. I can say I’ve done nothing wrong. I’ve been honest and true. I’ve tried to stay pure. I’ve tried to not respond in a knee-jerk manner, and I’ve stayed very close to who I am. So it hurt, but I’m also proud of myself.”

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