by Jay Busbee
After nine months, Elin Nordegren has broken her silence on the infidelity scandal that rocked her family and led to the dissolution of her marriage to golf star Tiger Woods.
In what she says will be a one-time-only discussion of her side of the story, Nordegren spoke with People magazine for 19 hours over four days. The revelations were sobering, and in some cases surprising.
The three key takeaways from Nordegren's story are:
• She says she is in no way a violent person, calling any speculation that she swung a golf club at Woods on Thanksgiving night "ridiculous."
• She was completely broadsided by the news of Woods' extramarital affairs, believing that she was the only woman in his life. In short, she was as surprised as most of the rest of the world that the persona Woods put forth – dedicated competitor, family man – was a carefully constructed sham. "I'm so embarassed that I never suspected [his affairs] – not a one," she said.
• In line with that, she said she believed fully that her relationship with Woods was a real marriage, not an act orchestrated for cameras and sponsors. "The word betrayal is just not strong enough," she told People. "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."
Woods, who will be playing in this weekend's Barclays Championship in New Jersey, has not yet commented on Nordegren's interview. Clearly, however, she plans on him being in the picture as the father of her children – daughter Sam, 3, and son Charlie, 19 months – as she didn't scorch the earth with her comments. She declined to go into more detail about the events of Thanksgiving, and she would not comment on the size of her divorce settlement – rumored to be in excess of $100 million – except to indicate that it is substantial enough that she won't have to work initially and will be able to focus on raising her children.
The People magazine article gives the impression that Nordegren is both very aware of her celebrity – perhaps infamy – as the aggrieved wife, and also very understanding of the fact that she is something of a punch line for gaining so much money in the divorce settlement. As such, she intends to remain a private person and has no intention of being a celebrity – refreshing in an age where everyone who nabs a single headline is rushing to sign a reality-TV or talk show deal.
Most surprisingly, throughout all the drama of the Woods scandal, Nordegren quietly spent time as a humble college student, taking night classes in pursuit of a psychology degree. According to her, she's 40 credits short of a bachelor's degree in psychology, and hopes to follow that with a master's and, at some point in the future, work as a therapist herself. Perhaps fittingly, she took a clinical approach to her own healing, facing it directly and without shame in regular, intensive therapy sessions.
"My immediate plan is for the kids and me to continue to adjust to our new situation," she said. "I am going to keep taking classes, but my main focus is to try to give myself time to heal."
As for the future, she plans to raise the children in South Florida, near a home she and Woods have been building in Jupiter. So it seems she intends for him to remain a part of her life in some capacity; indeed, the article begins with Woods arriving home with the children during the interview and surprising Elin, who reacts with kindness and respect.
For now, this will close Elin Nordegren's side of the story. Clearly, though, this will follow her and her family for decades to come.
The issue of People featuring Elin Nordegren on the cover will be inescapable starting Friday.
That said, Elin, no one would be mad if you did swing that golf club!