Maria Shriver Visited Convent After Arnold Schwarzenegger Split, Felt 'Invisible' During Marriage

Maria Shriver has revealed she went to a convent following her split from Arnold Schwarzenegger.

While appearing on Monday’s episode of the “Making Space with Hoda Kotb” podcast, the journalist opened up about going on a journey of healing after the end of her 25-year marriage in 2011, recalling her eye-opening experience of visiting a convent.

“I first felt like, ‘Oh I’d better go and figure out like, what is the truth?'” Shriver, 67, began. “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 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 continued, adding that it she “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,'” the author said. “I was, like, sobbing. I was like, ‘Who is that?'”

Shriver went on to share that for the first time, she finally gave herself “permission to start learning.”

“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,” she told Kotb. “And then I was like, ‘OK, God, let’s go. And I’m going to take this and learn everything I can about my role and what I need to learn … When the universe knocks you like that, I think you have to not focus on the other person [but] … what do you need to learn from this experience? So I gave myself permission to start learning.”

Meanwhile, at another point in her conversation with Kotb, Shriver recalled feeling “invisible” during her marriage to Schwarzenegger, sharing that she first experienced that feeling while growing up as a member of the Kennedy family.,

“I grew up feeling invisible in an incredibly public, famous family,” Shriver said. “There were a lot of really big characters in that family … If you, as a child, are standing next to the president of the United States, two U.S. senators, the first lady, nobody’s looking at you. You are background noise. And you take that with you really through life, and you end up putting yourself in situations where that continues until you learn your lesson. That 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.”

The mother of four continued, “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.”

“And then I [realized] they were teaching me a lesson that it’s not about whether they see me,” Shriver said. “Do I see me? Am I visible to me?”

Shriver and Schwarzenegger tied the knot in 1986, and had four children: Katherine, 33, Christina, 31, Patrick, 29, and Christopher, 25.

Shriver filed for divorce in July 2011 after Schwarzenegger revealed that he had an affair and secretly fathered a child with the family’s housekeeper. Their divorce was finalized in December 2021.

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