Asia Argento has spoken for the first time since her lover Anthony Bourdain committed suicide – describing her grief and admitting that she cheated on him but saying: "He cheated on me too."
She speaks out in an exclusive DailyMailTV interview conducted in her home city of Rome, where no topic was off limits.
It has been three months since Bourdain was found dead in his hotel room in Kayserberg, France where he was filming an episode of his CNN series, "Parts Unknown." The premier of what would prove to be his final season aired Sunday night.
Now, in an exclusive interview with DailyMailTV, the Italian actress, director and MeToo activist, has relived the moment she learned that the man she loved had taken his own life.
She told how trolls have accused her of driving her lover to suicide by cheating on him, and has revealed instead the truth of their "grown-up" relationship saying: "He cheated on me too. It wasn't a problem for us."
Her voice cracking with emotion, she said: "People say I murdered him. They say I killed him.
"But I understand that the world needs to find a reason. I would like to find a reason too. I don't have it. Maybe I would feel some solace in thinking there was something that happened."
Pictures of Argento embracing a male friend, journalist Hugo Clement, and strolling hand in hand in Rome emerged just three days before Bourdain, 61, killed himself.
It didn't take long for online trolls to connect the dots in the most brutal fashion.
She was branded a "murderer" by online groups such as "Justice for Anthony" - who did not let the fact that they knew neither Argento nor her late love stand in the way of casting their judgment
Argento was slammed for not "looking like a woman mourning" the man she calls "my love, my rock, my protector" when she chose to go back to work as a judge on the Italian edition of the X-Factor shortly after Bourdain's death.
In fact, Argento said, the day after Bourdain's death she had a choice: "To go to work or to never get up again."
To this day she credits her role on X-Factor as having saved her life. She said, "For the hours that I was on the stage I would just listen to the music, to these artists that were putting their dreams on the stage and I would concentrate on that and not on my broken heart.
"And it worked. It literally saved my life and for that I will always be grateful."
With remarkable compassion Argento, 43, continued: "I understand that people wanted to blame me because he was so deeply loved and he entered in the hearts of so many people, into their lives, into their hearts.
"So in a way I understand that they [want to] see me as the negative person, the destroyer."
But according to Argento, however unthinkable Bourdain's suicide and however much she understands a desire to make sense of it by attributing blame in this fashion, to do so is to misunderstand the nature of their two-year-relationship.
She explained: "Anthony was a very smart man, one of the smartest people I have met - wise, deep.
"People need to think that he killed himself for something like this? He had cheated on me too. It wasn't a problem for us.
"He was a man who traveled 265 days a year when we saw each other we took really great pleasure in each other's company. But we are not children. We are grown ups.
"Anthony was 62 [his suicide was shortly before his 62nd birthday]. I was 42.
"We had lives, we had wives and husbands, we had children. I cannot think of Anthony as somebody who would do an extreme gesture like this for something like that."
Yet though she does not believe Bourdain's death is her 'fault,' Argento - who met the celebrity chef when she was asked to direct an episode of Parts Unknown - admitted that she does struggle with the sense of guilt shared by many who have lost a loved one to suicide.
She explained, "What I do feel terrible about is that he had so much pain inside of him and he didn't share it.
"I did not see it. And for that I will feel guilty for the rest of my life."
Argento revealed how close Bourdain was to her two children - her daughter Anna Lou, 17, and son Nicola, nine.
Last October Argento became one of the first Harvey Weinstein accusers to speak up at the very dawn of the MeToo movement.
She alleged that the disgraced producer raped her, forcibly performing oral sex on her in a hotel room in 1997 despite her repeated protestations of "No."
In the media furor that followed Bourdain was Argento's most vocal supportive, her defender and champion who spoke fiercely about his desire for Weinstein to suffer a massive stroke and die miserably with the realization that he was utterly alone.
Bourdain was Argento's lover and her warrior. She called him her "Strength and rock."
She said: "He defended me against everything and everyone."
She never imagined that he would leave her so suddenly and so alone.
And after the shock and the pain came anger - anger that Bourdain who was loved by both her 17-year-old daughter and nine-year old son - had "abandoned" them.
She said, "I didn't know how to tell him [my son] because for him Anthony was his best friend, my daughter too.
"So the depth of this depression was so great I thought I would never come out and then my reaction was one of anger.
"The anger came because this desperation has no end..and I was angry, yes, with him for abandoning me and my kids."
That anger kept her alive, she said, for a while - it gave her a sort of fierce strength.
She said: "But now it's been replaced by loss, this hole that cannot be filled by anything."
And she knows she will never have an answer to the central question: Why? Why did the man she love kill himself?
Bourdain once said that he had never met anyone who wanted to kill themself as much as he did, until he met Argento. Yet he never shared with her how close to the void he really was.
She said: "It is unthinkable because there are no answers. There's no reason. I wanted to find a reason [too] - that he would have told me, 'I'm not well. I need help."
"He only told me once that he had dark thoughts."
But Argento had no way of knowing how close those thoughts were crowding.
Instead, she said: "Just two months before [he killed himself] it was our anniversary and he wrote to me, 'Two years - a miracle, a gift, the best thing that has ever happened.'
"And for me it's the same and nothing, and nobody, will ever take that away from me or him."
She said: "When this happened I was in shock. I was paralyzed….I didn't even want to read the details of his death. I was frightened, frightened to know."
Today Argento is just trying to keep breathing. She is living for her children - her 17-year-old daughter and nine-year-old son - and she is clinging to the one thing of which she is certain in the midst of such inexplicable pain.
It is three months since Argento's world imploded and, she said: "We still cry about it every day.
"I feel as if I don't have skin, as if I am raw. Anyone who touches me could hurt me - I could break in a million pieces."
She said, "I've started many time but now really, the unthinkable has happened. So now, what to do? I want to heal. I'm doing therapy. I'm in terrible pain and I'm seeking help.
"One thing I know, that he has given me the two happiest years of my life and I've given [that to] him."
Most of all she longs for Bourdain to be at peace because as long as she is suffering, she believes, he is too.
She said: "I'm sure that he's suffering and I wish him not. I wish him to find peace for his spirit, for his soul. Immediately he has to find peace. Immediately he has to go to the light."
Perhaps hoping that Bourdain might hear her trembling voice just as clearly as Argento is sure that he feels her current pain, Argento said: "I am not well. But I could be worse.
"I know I will stand up again, I don't know how long it's going to take but I intend to live my life and accept everything."
Where to get help:
• Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• Youthline: 0800 376 633
• Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
• Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
• Samaritans 0800 726 666
• If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.