Honestly, some people would say that as a “political wife” Maria Shriver, even if she didn’t know the details of her husband’s fathering a child with the help, still knew she was married to an out of control narcissist with a woman problem.
Still, it wasn’t just about blind ambition. She’s not a bad person. She grew up in a family that not only worked, but believed in the value of doing good. Her father invented the Peace Corps. Her mother created the Special Olympics. Not to mention the rest of the family. Those are some heavy boots to fill, and Maria worked her whole life.
She’s still working. Here she is talking about “transitions” on the Youtube. (You’ll have to go there; unlike her husband, the link is unembedable.) She’s wants to know how other women handled their big life changes, but I’ve got some advice specific to her situation.
Sorry, Maria, if you are googling yourself, and who doesn’t? I’m not saying this to be unkind, but honey, you a mess! And why shouldn’t you be? The year you’ve had! To begin with you’re 55. Probably still having that unsettling hormone shitstorm. I’ve been there, girlfriend! Second, your father died after struggling with Alzheimer’s. Your mom died in 2009, but let me tell you, when the second parent goes, it feels like your losing the other one all over again. And no matter how prepared you thought you were, there’s always a ton of stuff to straighten out, not to mention the emotional dust bowl that gets stirred up.
Your husband just lost his job, except he can go back to his old one of being a movie star. And it just hit you that while you were perfectly typecast for the role of political wife, movie star wife — not so much. He used you while he was playing the Gobernator. Even your wonderful kids were props. You played the role of the supportive spouse, defending him from charges of being gropy. But you weren’t playing. It was your life. Kind of like that doofus Diana, not getting it even when Charles had that awkward, “whatever love is” moment with the reporters.
Did you know or even suspect he’d fathered a child with one of the “household staff”? Not bloody likely. It’s not just denial. He may not have been the world’s most convincing actor, but he convinced you. He played to your vanity the way narcissists do and gave you a chance to be a bigger star than any of your cousins.
And the audacity of the deception — a married woman, showing up pregnant for work, in your home.
Of course you didn’t know, baby. Even a Kennedy wouldn’t put up with that shit, and you are only a Kennedy on your mother’s side. Your father was a decent sort who knew how to treat women.
So hubby waits until his political career is over to give you the news. He’s in transition too. He’s now going to be an aging action hero. At 63, he probably still has a couple of good leading roles left. They had to kill off Sarah Connor for T-3, because maybe Linda Hamilton’s arms got flabby, but look at Harrison Ford or Sean Connery. Does Arnold have the new wife picked out yet? The way he picked you out? Katie Holmes might be good, pretty, but non-threatening, won’t make a bigger entrance than him, but she’s not available.
Welcome to the First Wives Club, Maria! What took you so long?
You didn’t leave on your terms. By telling you about the affair and the child, Arnold was essentially saying, “Of course we can work it out, but you’d be humiliated and laughed at forever.” It was a no choice/choice. Like NBC moving you from Dateline to a new position as the weather girl on a local station in Iowa.
So here you are on your website talking to women about transitions and wanting to know how other women have handled them. It’s days before the official announcement and you are already working, thinking of writing a book about it. Why not? That’s how you handled your father’s senility.
But here’s the thing, Maria. You need to take some time. You need a vacation from being you. Stop, doing what Maria Shriver would do. I get it, you’ve got kids. Your youngest is only what 14, the same age as the little . . .
Take a breath. Sure it’s a very tough time for the children. That’s what big supportive extended families are for. Drop them off at one of your cousin’s for a month or two. That Caroline, she’s a rock.
Then get the hell out of Dodge. Dump your celebrity. There are places in the world where you if you introduced yourself as Maria Fitzgerald no one would question it. Try Thailand or India. I’m not talking about backpacking and Rough Guiding it, but don’t go with an entourage or a plan. You could do worse than spend a couple of weeks at a yoga retreat. Or might I suggest, a fasting cleanse on Ko Samui with daily facials, chi-gong, Iyengar yoga classes, and colonics? You could drink coconut milk (as long as you don’t eat the shreds) on a lovely balcony with an ocean view and walk around unrecognized browsing in the traditional night market. I know just the place. Do you a world of good. Follow it up with a week or two of silent meditation at a Buddhist monastery. They won’t make you do anything a good Catholic shouldn’t.
After that you could hit some place on your bucket list, maybe a beach of astounding beauty like the one they kept looking for in Y Tu Mama También, in some backwater you never even heard of. I’m not suggesting that you hook up with a young local a la Charlotte Rampling in Going South, but there’s a good chance you could find an age appropriate ex-pat, maybe not one with the physical endowments of your ex, but probably one who won’t want much more than your company and will treat you with the respect you deserve.
Live a little, Maria, it’s your turn!