"Nobody knew," she says, "because I thought my mom would f—ing kill me."

By Jeff Nelson
October 18, 2018 11:00 AM
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Elle King
Frazer Harrison/Getty

Elle King is getting real about her secret marriage.

In this week’s issue of PEOPLE, the singer opens up about the “destructive marriage” no one — not even her parents — knew about, and how it informed her sophomore album Shake the Spirit (out Friday).

On Feb. 14, 2016, the “Ex’s & Oh’s” singer secretly wed Scottish beau Andrew Ferguson — just three weeks after they met at a bar and one week after announcing their engagement.

“When I love, I love very hard,” King, 29, tells PEOPLE, reflecting on her whirlwind romance. “We were two young, crazy people.”

Elle King, at home (Aug. 29, 2018)
Chloe Aftel

At the time, the pressure of the spotlight was taking a toll on the nascent rock star, the daughter of comedian Rob Schneider, 54, and model London King, 52.

“Before we even met, I had started kind of losing my mind,” she says of her mentality marrying Ferguson. “I was just searching for any kind of connection and realness . . . just f—ing begging for love.”

While King doesn’t regret the marriage, she knows it was an impulsive act.

“We got married three weeks to the day after we met — and you don’t know a person after three weeks. I didn’t know him, and he didn’t know me. It was a crazy time,” she says.

Elle King and ex Andrew Ferguson
Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

So, King says, she didn’t tell anyone.

“Nobody knew,” she says, “because I thought my mom would f—ing kill me.”

King kept the union under wraps for a year, but the marriage began to implode. Their public wedding date (April 15, 2017) came and went. Then on April 23, 2017, Ferguson was arrested and charged with felony domestic violence after allegedly grabbing King by the throat and threatening to kill her, TMZ reported. (The charge was later dropped.)

A month later, on Instagram, King revealed the secret marriage while announcing their split. In the year that followed, the three-time Grammy nominee self-medicated with drugs and alcohol to “numb” the pain of depression and PTSD in the fallout of her breakup before seeking professional help.

RELATED: Comedian Rob Schneider Says That People Recognize Him Now As ‘Elle King’s Dad’

“It crashed and burned, but when we got married, it was out of absolute, sheer love,” King says of the marriage to Ferguson. “But eloping is now out of my system.”

Adds King: “It’s not that I wouldn’t wanna get married again, I just wouldn’t wanna go through a divorce again — because that’s pretty s—y. It can make you feel like a failure.”

That’s not to say King has given up on love completely, though.

As she sings on her heart-wrenching Shake the Spirit album closer: “I still got a little bit of lovin’ left in me.”

Indeed, the singer has a new beau, whose name she’d liked to keep private for now.

“I still, of course, believe in love. Totally. And I think that having that kind of belief and faith is what will bring goodness into your life,” she says. “I’m a romantic.”

Adds the singer: “I’ve changed a lot. I’m finding my own self-love, and I’m inviting love, outwardly in.”