09/23/2008 AT 09:00 AM EDT
Meg Ryan says going from being "America's sweetheart" to the "scarlet woman" was painful but liberating.
The 46-year-old actress, who can currently be seen on screen in The Women
, opens up in the October issue of In Style
about her affair with Proof of Life
costar Russell Crowe and problems she was having with then-husband Dennis Quaid, which led to their divorce.
"Dennis was not faithful to me for a long time, and that was very painful," she says, adding, "I am not a victim. I was there. I was in that marriage for a really long time."
"It was also incredibly liberating," she tells the magazine of the public split. "Now I was utterly free. I didn't have to care about what people thought. I have gotten to do what I guess I secretly wanted to do. Be totally under the radar and live my life."
Also free – from blame – is Crowe, she says. The two were romantically involved at the end her marriage, but "Russell didn't break up the marriage," she says. "I was a mess. I hurt him too at the end. I couldn't be in another long relationship. It wasn't the time for that. So I got out."
Ryan says she's enjoyed being out of the spotlight for the past few years, taking time to raise son Jack, 16, and daughter Daisy, whom she adopted from China in 2006.
"As mysterious and magical as it is to have a baby you gave birth to, I have that exact same thing with Daisy," Ryan says. "I feel like we made some agreement, long ago and far away, to meet in the way we did."
2001: Post-Crowe & Quaid, Meg has no regrets!