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July 02, 2018 08:14 AM

It’s been nearly two years since Christina El Moussa split from her ex-husband, Tarek, and while the Flip or Flop star is in a great place now, the split took a serious toll on her at the time.

“I felt like I was drowning,” Christina, 34, says in the latest issue of PEOPLE. “I was doing whatever I could to stay above water and just get through the day.”

RELATED: Flip or Flop’s Christina El Moussa to Star in New HGTV Series: ‘I’m Excited to Do My Own Thing’

In 2016, following an “unfortunate incident” where Tarek, 36, fled their home with a gun onto national-parks property, prompting a helicopter and 11 officers to respond to the scene, the pair separated, leaving the fate of their reality show and million-dollar home in limbo.

Justin Coit

Watch the full episode of People Cover Story: Christina El Moussa — I’ve Never Been So Happy!streaming now on peopletv.com, or download the PeopleTV app on your favorite device.

In the aftermath, “a lot of people were thinking, ‘What’s going to happen?’ Tarek and I were so tied together on everything: real estate, the show, our children, our house. It was so stressful, and everyone was worried that it was going to explode.”

Justin Coit

Despite the drama, there was no explosion and the pair continued working together while co-parenting their daughter, Taylor, 7, and son, Brayden, 2. “Somehow we managed to build something even bigger than we had before,” she says.

RELATED: Christina El Moussa Lists Family Home She Shared with Ex Tarek for $3 Million

With the dust settled and the drama mostly behind them, Christina is moving into the next chapter of her life. “I thought of this year like a rebuild,” she says. “So I’m starting from scratch. I’m moving, I have a new TV show, a new boyfriend—there’s a lot of projects going on. I’m just so happy, and for the first time in a long time, I feel at peace, which is such a good feeling.”

For more on Christina El Moussa, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Monday.

 

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