AceShowbiz - It's been five years since %cAnn Curry% abruptly left "Today". Now, the 61-year-old journalist is opening up about her hard times after the painful departure back in 2012.
Talking to PEOPLE for the magazine's newest issue, Ann reveals that "it hurt like hell." She continues, "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."
"I'm not going to say it wasn't hard," she goes on saying. "But I had to let go. And I learned that when you not only let go but open your arms wide and learn the lessons that an experience -- no matter how bad -- can teach you, that's when you rise."
"I can say today I'm stronger now," she adds. "I'm smarter. I'm happier, as happy as I've ever been. And my compassion has only grown. When you go through the pain and learn the lessons, you will be changed for the better."
Ann also talks about her maintaining her silence for all these years. "Experience has taught me, as a journalist, the No. 1 thing you have to be is humble," she explains. "It's not about you."
Ann said during her tearful farewell episode back in 2012 that her dismissal, which came only after working for a year, was also a shock to her. "For all of you, who saw me as a a ground-breaker, I'm sorry I couldn't carry the ball over the finish line but I did try," she said at the time. "Thank you from the bottom of my heart for letting me touch yours. I will keep trying."
Rumors had it that Ann was fired due to the lack of chemistry she had with the co-host %cMatt Lauer%, whose contract was terminated in late 2017 after being accused of sexual inappropriate behavior. "It wasn't obvious at the time, but Ann Curry was a dead woman walking," New York Times reporter Brian Shelter wrote in his 2013 book titled "Top of the Morning".
"She was never really given a chance to co-host the show. She was being undermined the whole time," he continued. "Ann Curry's last few days at 'Today' were gut-wrenching. I was watching outside from the windows and I could see that Matt Lauer and Ann Curry would never speak to each other except when they had to on camera."