Why Maria Shriver Went to a Convent After Arnold Schwarzenegger Breakup

Maria Shriver recalled traveling to a convent after ending her marriage to ex Arnold Schwarzenegger. Find out what she learned during her visit.

By Gabrielle Chung Feb 07, 2023 4:07 AMTags
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The hills are alive with words of enlightenment, according to Maria Shriver.

The journalist reflected on her high-profile divorce from ex Arnold Schwarzenegger during the Feb. 6 episode of the Making Space with Hoda Kotb podcast, sharing that she visited a cloistered convent soon after the split "to be in silence and look for advice."

Describing the experience as "a scene out of The Sound of Music," Shriver recalled how the convent's Reverend Mother helped open her eyes and find a new outlook on life.

"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 shared, before referencing Julie Andrews' role in the iconic film. "She says, 'You can't come live here, but you do have permission to go out and become Maria.' I was like, sobbing."

The 67-year-old went on to explain how she realized her full potential after that profound conversation. "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 told host Hoda Kotb. "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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Shriver and Schwarzenegger, 75, announced their split in May 2011. The two share kids Katherine, 33, Christina, 31, Patrick, 29, Christopher, 25.

Soon after news of their separation broke, Schwarzenegger admitted to fathering son Joseph Baena, now 24, with former family housekeeper Mildred Baena, whom he had an affair with during his marriage to Shriver. At the time, Schwarzenegger said in a statement, "There are no excuses and I take full responsibility for the hurt I have caused. I have apologized to Maria, my children and my family. I am truly sorry."


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The former couple, who finalized their divorce in 2021, have maintained a cordial relationship since their breakup. Most recently, they reunited to celebrate their son Patrick's birthday in September.

Looking back, Shriver—who is cousin to Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of late President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis—said she often felt "invisible" living in the shadow of someone else.

"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 shared on the podcast. "And then I [realized] they were teaching me a lesson that it's not about whether they see me. Do I see me? Am I visible to me?"

As she explained, "It's not about other people seeing you, it's about you seeing yourself. And that took me a really long time, a really long time to learn."

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