Maria Shriver sought out life advice at a convent after her marriage to Arnold Schwarzenegger ended.
During Shriver’s appearance on the Making Space with Hoda Kotb podcast Monday, the journalist told host Hoda Kotb that she began feeling like she “had the freedom or permission” to be herself when she filed for divorce from Schwarzenegger in July 2011, after 25 years of marriage.
“I first felt like, ‘Oh I’d better go and figure out like, what is the truth?’ ” Shriver, 67, said on the podcast. “I went to a convent — I did so many things — but one of the things I did is I went to a convent, a cloistered convent, to be in silence and look for advice.”
The journalist and author shared that the convent’s Reverend Mother gave her permission “to go out and become Maria,” during her visit — something she said she’s never revealed before.
“The Reverend Mother there said to me at the very end, she said — and I actually have written about this, but I haven’t shared — she said, ‘I think you came here looking for permission,’ ” Shriver told Kotb, 58.
“I felt like I was in a scene out of The Sound of Music,” she added. “She says, ‘You can’t come live here, but you do have permission to go out and become Maria.’ I was like, sobbing. I was like, ‘Who is that?’ ”
“I think the word permission… I had never given myself permission to feel, to be vulnerable, to be weak, to be brought to my knees, and the world did it to me,” Shriver said of the experience. “And then I was like, ‘Okay, God, let’s go. I’m gonna take this and learn everything I can about my role and what I need to learn.’ ”
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Elsewhere in the interview, Shriver said that both her notable upbringing as a member of the Kennedy family and her marriage to Schwarzenegger, 75, often made her feel “invisible.”
“I would find myself getting angry at people who came up and didn’t acknowledge that I existed when I was standing next to Arnold, or when I was standing next to my uncle or somebody,” she told Kotb.
“And then I [realized] they were teaching me a lesson that it’s not about whether they see me,” she added. “Do I see me? Am I visible to me?”
Shriver and Terminator star Schwarzenegger first met in August 1977 at the Robert F. Kennedy Tennis Tournament after being introduced by NBC’s Tom Brokaw. The former couple married in 1986 and had four children together: daughters Katherine, 33, and Christina, 31, and sons Patrick, 29, and Christopher, 25.
Shriver filed for divorce in July 2011 after 25 years of marriage. Two months before the filing, Schwarzenegger publicly admitted he had fathered another son, Joseph Baena, 25, with the family’s longtime housekeeper Mildred Baena.
The former couple’s divorce was finalized in December 2021; Shriver and Schwarzenegger have remained unified as a family since their breakup. In September, they posed with son Patrick Schwarzenegger at a birthday dinner in a photo shared to his Instagram after his 29th birthday.