October 27th, 2010
03:18 PM ET
Despite her tumultuous relationship with 21-year-old Brown – who was sentenced to five years of probation and 180 days of community service for assaulting Rihanna in February, 2009 – the Barbados-born beauty says she has become a better and happier woman because of what she went through.
"God has a crazy way of working, and sometimes when stuff happens, you feel like, 'What did I do to deserve this?' 'Why was it backfiring on me?'" she tells the magazine. "But I needed that wake-up call in my life. I needed a turning point, and that's what God was giving to me."
That's not to say that ending her romance with Brown was easy. But Rihanna, 22, says she just realized one day that she had to let go.
"I remember I was in New York at the Trump Hotel and I woke up and I just knew I was over it," she says. "It was a different day. I felt different. I didn't feel lonely. I felt like I wanted to get up and be in the world. That was a great, great feeling."
In fact, she adds, "I feel like I smile for real this time. The smiles come from inside, and it exudes in everything I do."
Now Rihanna hopes that others in toxic relationships can learn from her experience. "All this terrible stuff they say to you, it breaks you down," she says. "[But] once you're back on your feet - if you ever make it back on your feet - that's the ultimate achievement."
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