05/30/2013 at 09:00 AM EDT
LeAnn Rimes settles into a chair and exhales. "I've been doing a lot of deep breathing lately," she says. "I just feel like I held my breath for so long."
Sitting on the sunny patio of the Los Angeles home she shares with husband Eddie Cibrian, the country singer reflects on the hard-fought happiness she's finally learning to enjoy. "I've grown up a lot these last five years," she says. "I thought my life was falling apart, but now everything is good."
Rimes admits that the recent tumult in her life was often self-inflicted. In 2009 she and Cibrian, 39, engaged in a highly publicized affair, which ended their respective marriages. "I made some really bad choices," she says. "I caused hurt."
The songs on her new album Spitfire, out June 4, chronicle the drama and include an apology to her ex-husband Dean Sheremet. "I broke the sweetest heart of the only man that's ever loved me," she laments in "What Have I Done." She shares the experience of being a mistress in "Borrowed" and offers an olive branch to a woman scorned in "Just a Girl Like You", which many will assume is aimed at Cibrian's ex Brandi Glanville.