Maria Shriver needed a big reset amid her divorce.
Appearing this week on the new episode of the “Making Space with Hoda Kotb” podcast, the 67-year-old recalls her decision to go to a convent following her split from Arnold Schwarzenegger.
READ MORE: Arnold Schwarzenegger And Maria Shriver’s Divorce Finalized 10 Years After Filing
“I went to a convent, a cloistered convent, and to be in silence and look for advice,” she explained. “And the reverend mother there … I actually have written about this but I — I haven’t shared it. She said, ‘I think you came here looking for permission.’”
She continued, “And I felt like I was in a scene out of ‘The Sound of Music,’ you know?”
“She goes, ‘You can’t come live here … but you do have permission to go out and become Maria,’” Shriver recalled.
Those words affected her in a big way, Shriver said.
“I was, like, sobbing,” she continued. “I had never given myself permission to — to feel, to be vulnerable, to be weak, to be brought to my knees. And the world did it to me. And then I was like, ‘OK, God, let’s go,’” she explained.
Shriver and Schwarzenegger were married in 1986, and they split in 2011, though their divorce was only finalized in 2021.
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As she explained, one problem in her marriage was feeling invisible next to her world-famous husband, which mirrored her experience growing up as part of the Kennedy family, being the niece of the late John F. Kennedy.
“I grew up feeling invisible in an incredibly public, famous family,” she said. “There were a lot of really big characters in that family.”
Shriver went on, “If you, as a child, are standing next to the president of the United States, two U.S. senators, the first lady, nobody is 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 experience, she said, gave her a sense of sympathy for others facing their own struggles.
“There’s always somebody who is feeling invisible,” she said. “I know what that feels like. And so, I usually try to go over and talk to the person who I think is standing there feeling that way.”