Shakira has opened up about her split from Spanish soccer star Gerard Pique for the first time.

The Colombian popstar and the Spanish soccer player, who share two sons, announced in June that they had separated after 12 years together.

Addressing the separation for the first time in a cover interview with ELLE magazine, Shakira described 2022 as “one of the most difficult and darkest hours of my life” due to the separation, her cheating affair tax in Spain and his father’s health problems.

“It’s been tough, not just for me, but also for my kids. Incredibly tough,” she shared. “I try to hide the situation from them as much as possible. It’s really upsetting for two kids trying to deal with their parents’ separation. And sometimes I just feel like it’s all one bad dream and that I’m going to wake up at some point. But no, it’s real. And what’s also real is the disappointment of seeing something as sacred and special as I thought was the relationship I had with the father of my children and seeing it turn into something vulgarized and belittled by the media.”

The 45-year-old went on to admit that breaking up a family unit is ‘probably one of the most painful things you can go through’ and insisted that a lot of the speculation surrounding their separation is not true.

Asked about the rumors of a custody battle, she replied: “No matter how things ended or how Gerard and I feel about each other as an ex-partner, he is the father of my children. We have a job to do for these two amazing boys, and I trust that we will find what is best for their future, their own dreams in life, and what is a fair solution for all involved persons.”

The Hips Don’t Lie star was also asked if her relationship ended as a surprise, and she said those details were “too private to share” when “everything is so raw and new”. However, she went on to insist that she was “putting everything I had into this relationship and my family” and sacrificing her career and nomadic lifestyle to raise a family with the sports star in Spain.

“I put my career in second gear and I came to Spain, to support him so that he could play football and win titles. And it was a sacrifice of love. Thanks to that, my children have been able to have a gift mom, and I have this amazing bond with them that is unbreakable and supportive. You know, that’s it. That’s all I can say,” she said.

Shakira is also preparing to stand trial for allegations of tax evasion, which she denies. During this difficult period, her father, who came to Barcelona to support her during the separation, had a bad fall and had to undergo brain surgery. A week later, he fell again and “broke many bones in his face”.