"I loved Hank so much, and I still do, and I will always love Hank," Wilkinson tells PEOPLE exclusively
The former Playboy model, 38, says she and her ex-husband, 41, are on great terms and thriving in their co-parenting journey. She tells PEOPLE exclusively that despite their past marriage struggles and infidelity, the pair are “lucky” to have each other.
“A lot of people cheat — a lot of people have affairs and it's not a good thing to do, but it's something I forgive,” she says. “I forgive, and he deserves it. He's the most amazing human and he's better than that. Hank is an amazing father, an amazing co-parent, and he deserves all good things, and that's how I actually feel.”
She continues, “What he did in my marriage doesn't define him to me today.”
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Wilkinson reveals that she experienced a mental health crisis in September, which led her to be hospitalized. Sitting in the emergency room, Baskett was by her side, and Wilkinson realized the special bond they had was still there.
“He doesn't owe me anything,” she says, adding, “To accept help that day and for him to accept to drive me to the hospital was a huge day in both of our lives, I think. And yeah, he did say he was proud of me. He did. That's all I care about.”
Having the former NFL player a consistent figure in the family’s unit is something Wilkinson admits she is grateful for. She credits forgiveness and her ability to look at divorce as something she gave her children, rather than something that took away from their lives.
“The kids are so lucky to have him [Baskett],” she says. “I'm lucky to have him. So the thing about it is, you just have to look at what you do have — what are the things you do have and be grateful for those things. And even if it's a couple of things, just nurture it, be good to it.”
She adds: “We're co-parenting really well. It's what divorce is about, it's a very giving thing.”
For a long time, Wilkinson admits she held onto hope that she and Baskett could reconcile their relationship. Once she let that go and began to focus on herself, she realized that they could love each other without being married, though that didn’t make the grieving process any easier.
“I was like, I loved Hank so much, and I still do, and I will always love Hank,” she shares. “And sometimes I wake up and I'm like, ‘Holy shit, I'm not married to Hank anymore?’ It's so weird. We were supposed to be together forever. I still wake up doing that. That's why I haven't been dating because I still am trying to shake off my divorce.”
This also caused her depression to worsen, because every time she was with another man, it was a reminder that her marriage was over. After taking time for her mental health, she says she is ready to start fresh, but she is still afraid of the unknown.
“It's time to move on, and I'm starting to get excited about the future,” she explains. “I don't know how I'm going to start dating or I don't know who's going to be the right man for me or whatever. I just don't want to make any mistakes.”
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