Finding her voice. Maria Shriver recalled going to a convent to find the “freedom” to be herself following her split from Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The I’ve Been Thinking author, 67, revealed on Monday, February 6, that growing up in the limelight as a Kennedy meant that a lot of feelings were buried. That tendency to stay quiet, however, shifted once she left Schwarzenegger, 75, in 2011.
“I think I started feeling like I had the freedom or the permission [to speak my truth] when my marriage ended,” Shriver told Hoda Kotb during her “Making Space” podcast. “At first, felt like, ‘Oh, I better go and figure out what is the truth.’ One of the things I did is [I] went to a convent, a cloistered convent.”
The journalist explained that she visited the convent to “be in silence and look for advice” after her 25-year marriage came tumbling down.
“The reverent mother there said to me at the very end, she said, ‘I think you came here looking for permission,’” Shriver recalled. “I felt like I was in a scene out of the Sound of Music. She goes, ‘You can’t come live here … but you do have permission to go out and become Maria.’ I was sobbing. I was like, ‘Who is that?’”
The former Dateline correspondent — who is the daughter of Eunice Kennedy and niece of John F. Kennedy — confessed: “I had never given myself permission to feel, to be vulnerable, to be weak, to be brought to my knees.”
Shriver noted that the “world did it to me” and caused her to change course. “Then I was like, ‘OK, God, let’s go.’ I’m gonna take this and learn everything I can about my role and what I need to learn,” she added. “So I gave myself permission to start learning.”
The Just Who Will You Be? author began dating the Terminator actor in 1977 and got engaged nearly eight years later. The pair tied the knot in April 1986 and proceeded to welcome four children: daughters Katherine, now 33, and Christina, now 31, followed by sons Patrick, now 29, and Christopher, now 25.
The former couple made headlines in May 2011 when they announced their separation amid reports of infidelity on Schwarzenegger’s part. The Kindergarten Cop actor eventually confirmed that he fathered son Joseph Baena with the family’s former housekeeper, Mildred “Patty” Baena, while he was still married to Shriver.
“This is a painful and heartbreaking time. As a mother, my concern is for the children,” the former first lady of California said in a statement at the time. “I ask for compassion, respect and privacy as my children and I try to rebuild our lives and heal.”
Us Weekly confirmed in December 2021 that Shriver and Schwarzenegger finalized their divorce 10 years after parting ways. Despite seemingly having a good coparenting relationship, The Alzheimer’s Project producer revealed on Monday that she is still on a “continual quest” to find her truest self in the wake of her divorce.
“I wanted to have a different kind of marriage than my parents had. The ending [my relationship and] of all of that definitely sent me on a journey to reevaluate everything in my life,” Shriver told podcast listeners. “I looked at my religion. … I looked at my own judgements. I looked at everything. I did everything that was available that I could find to heal myself. I still look at myself as on a healing journey.”
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She reaffirmed that through her personal evolution she has come out stronger. “I will never abandon myself again,” the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement founder concluded.
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