"This opportunity helped me learn to stand by myself, in my journey of recovery," Linda Evans exclusively tells PEOPLE
Linda Alexie Spring[3]
Credit: Laura Schuman Craig

After dash cam footage of her 2014 DUI arrest surfaced last week, Dynasty legend Linda Evans is clearing the air on speculations of whether or not the beloved former actress was suffering from a addiction problem.

“When I saw the footage, I was surprised because I don’t remember myself that way,” Evans exclusively tells PEOPLE. “That’s not the way I perceive myself. To see it, it was disturbing. I saw the pain in my eyes.”

In May 2014, the 74-year-old was pulled over in her home state of Washington for driving erratically (though the ticket was filed as a DUI, after extensive blood tests, it was ultimately amended to reckless driving).

“It’s true I was driving while being in physical pain, but I was not impaired by any narcotic. I did not take any opiate or alcohol,” Evans says. “I would not have willfully put anyone in jeopardy.”

According to the incident report obtained by PEOPLE, Evans was drifting from lane to lane and, at one point, drifted into oncoming traffic. When asked to do a field sobriety test, Evans demonstrated “sluggish behavior, lack of coordination, inability to stand without falling over” and her movements were “slow and lethargic.”

“Anyone who saw me on the video could see I was in physical pain,” a hardship Evans endured for two years. “It was interpreted as something it wasn’t. And blood tests proved there was only a remanence of a prescribed sleeping pill that I took the night before.”

According to documents, Evans admitted that she had been suffering from chronic pain due to a slipped disc.

“That day was pivotal for me because in hindsight, I wished I had made better judgment,” she admits. “I drove to water therapy, but should have stayed home because I felt so weak from back pain.”

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Evans continues, “When I saw the brutal coverage in the pop news story, it actually showed me how far I’ve come. It’s easy to love ourselves when we look beautiful and feel perfect. But when we feel vulnerable to our own criticism, and other people’s criticism, these moments define us. This opportunity helped me learn to stand by myself, in my journey of recovery. And now I feel liberated from my own critical mind. Life can be messy, and a little compassion for ourselves is what self-love is about.”

Best known for her role as Krystle Carrington on the 1980s ABC prime time soap opera Dynasty, Evans says she doesn’t yearn for the glitz and glam of Hollywood anymore.

“I don’t miss it at all,” she admits. “It was beautiful. What a ride Dynasty was. It was phenomenal in terms of what a beautiful experience. I loved it, but thank God I could do whatever I wanted to do.”

Now, Evans says her back pain has been healed due to four separate laser surgeries and maintains a healthy lifestyle while traveling the country, giving motivational speeches to women.

“Every morning I say, ‘Thank you God I am well!’ You only have to lose it to appreciate it,” she says. “I’m very grateful I still have a lot to do!”