updated 03/09/2012 AT 12:15 PM ET
•originally published 03/09/2012 AT 7:40 AM ET
“I feel like I’m in the eye of a tornado,” she tells Elle in its April issue. “Sometimes I think a curve ball just comes at you. Instead of something straight that you can catch, it hits you in the head from the side that you didn’t expect.”
Klum, 38, understands that the couple’s separation seemed sudden – but she tells the magazine that things in her marriage with the singer, 49, weren’t always what they seemed.
“People don’t need to know who did what,” she says. “I don’t want to talk positive or negatively about the ups and downs that we had. Every couple goes through things. Unfortunately, we’re in the public, so the highs are out there. But I don’t think it’s necessary for – especially for our children – to have the lows being printed in magazines and talked about.”
Still, her ex hasn’t always shared that view, and though he’s been vocal about their split, Klum acknowledges that there’s nothing she can do to change his approach.
“He’s going to be 50 next year. He’s a grown man,” she says. “I can’t tell him what to do and what not to do. It’s hard.”
To cope, she’s been spending as much time as possible at home, focusing on the couple’s four children.
“I’m a lioness,” says Klum. “I have four cubs. I’m a mom. I want to take care of my kids and protect them. I don’t want to talk about them, or him, or me.”
She’s also been avoiding reading the stories about her relationship – though when asked about the rumor that her success contributed to their split, she answered simply: “I’m a strong person. But I’m also a soft person. I can hurt. I’m not a robot. I’m not made of stone.”