CASSANDRA THORBURN ON LIFE AFTER KARL
Today star Karl Stefanovic’s ex-wife finally breaks her silence
It’s right on sunrise and the streets of Sydney’s Lower North Shore suburbs are beginning to stir and Cassandra Thorburn spares a moment to enjoy the view over Sydney Harbour before reflecting just how far she’s come in the past 15 months.
“There were days in the beginning I would get up, put on a brave face and drop the kids at school, then I’d get to the back door and I would lie in a heap for the rest of the day unable to move – there were very dark days,” she admits.
“I was completely gazumped when I realised Karl had gone.”
Shocked, hurt and humiliated, Cass relied on close friends for support. “I’ve had the most incredible support from friends,” she says. “During those dark months, imagine opening the front door and an esky of home-cooked food was there, even down to the school lunches for the kids. I was so grateful for these small acts of kindness. My friends really helped me come through the other side.”
Cass found it difficult adjusting to life as a single mum. “I questioned and doubted myself about everything,” she admits.
“I slept on the couch in front of the fire for months because I didn’tdidn t want to go near the marital bed. I was in a very dark place.” Today, Cass, 46, is a very different woman. Glowing with confidence, and fitter, healthier and stronger than she has ever been before, she has put the grief and anger behind her to forge a new life with her three children, Jackson, 18, Ava, 12 and River, 10.
“I get up every day with only one purpose – to make sure my three beautiful kids are happy – everything else really doesn’t matter,” she says. “I’m only concentrating on being strong in every way, and being the best mum I can be.”
She’s also learned to take time out to enjoy the simple things in life and start to rediscover herself.
“These days I get up half an hour earlier so I can be all on my own with a cup of coffee in hand, listening to the birds,” she says. “It’s pure bliss and it’s me time. It’s something I would never have done before my life changed.
“I used to wake up and go straight into autopilot parenting. Now I’m on my own it’s the most special way to make me stop and count our blessings. Anyone who knows me knows my number number-oneone priority will always be my children but I’ve realised I also have to be happy. If I’m not happy, then how can I possibly expect the kids to be?”
With a newfound confidence and her first children’s book almost completed, Cass decided now was the right time to mark a new chapter in her own life.
“I wanted to do this one interview to tell my story,” she says, looking the best she has for months as she surveys the $8 million Cremorne mansion where she lives.
“I had to stand up and speak out because of all the mistruths.”
The turning point for Cass to get up and shake herself off and begin making steps forward was when she realised how traumatic it was for their now 18-year-old son Jackson to move out of their Lindfield home.
“Jackson found it really hard to leave,” Cass says, wiping away tears. “He actually stayed in the house when I’d left with the other children, even though we’d moved out all the furniture. He slept on the floor of his bedroom and I couldn’t, and didn’t, want to make him leave.”
It was just minutes after she saw her son so vulnerable that Cass and Jackson were ambushed by a photographer as they arrived at a close friend’s home.
“I started screaming and had a complete meltdown – Jackson jumped in to defend me,
and on his own, confronted the photographer, telling him to ‘leave my mother alone, she didn’t ask for any of this’ – I couldn’t believe his strength and courage for someone so young, and so vulnerable.”
Cass says it made her realise no matter what happened, she had to stand up for her three children.
“I’m so proud of my kids and who they are and how they have got through this,” she says.
Cass also now realises that during the “dark days” when she was still trying to understand the split, she was experiencing grief, and says it was very much like when a family member dies.
“I realised I was going through stages of grief, and to me it was like someone had died,” she says. The children still have a father but I don’t have a husband. He really is dead to me and no, we won’t ever be friends again.”
Woman’s Day understands the children are yet to meet Karl’s new girlfriend, Jasmine Yarbrough, 33, despite Karl and Jasmine living in the next suburb. The Today host was photographed in Queensland with Jasmine’s family on Father’s Day this year.
With Karl reportedly recently undergoing an operation to reverse the vasectomy he had when he was married to Cass, it has been widely speculated that Karl and Jasmine will marry and are already planning to start their own family.
For now Cass is happy to spend time with Jackson, Ava and River, and the handful of close friends who remained loyal to her in the fallout of the split, and play with the mischievous pug they bought when Karl moved out.
“We celebrated our new beginning by getting the kids a puppy,” she says. “I would love to meet someone [special] but it is so far down the list of importance at the moment.”
‘I started screaming and had a complete meltdown’
Karl and Cass with a young River, Jackson and Ava in 2009. Just weeks before... Cass had no idea of the heartbreak soon to come when Karl took this happy selfie.
Karl and Jasmine have not been shy about showing their love to the world.