Today, inspired by recent events in the Shriver/Schwarzenegger household and the endless chatter and speculation swirling around them, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I had heard that Maria had posted a video on Youtube posing a provocative question that now deserved an answer. An honest, measured answer, not the shrill reverberations of the "experts" who have been weighing in on the state of her marriage and her future plans with Arnold, her husband of 25 years. So, at the end of a long day, I went to Youtube and I watched her video. I watched it once. I watched it twice. And then, a third and fourth time. Each viewing drew me in to her words and the questions she posed, but also her face, her eyes and that beautiful presence. I saw a trace of sadness and weariness, but I also saw openness in her that deserved that honest answer. ""How do you handle the transitions in your life"?
Here is my answer....
I have lived your story. I was married for 22 years to a cigar smoking Alpha male. Ours was a house dominated by his desires. As a Catholic woman, I struggled with issues of obedience and submission. I tried to be "good" but always failed miserably. Somehow, my innate spirit kept bubbling up. This was not good and on a bad day, (like when I had the temerity to bring home a roast chicken from the market) it had disastrous results. I stayed and stayed until one day, I didn't. This brings me to my answer for you.
Maria, the way you will handle this transition in your life is the way you have always lived it. With courage and prayer-with faith and fearlessness. In a transition of this magnitude, the uncertainty is the adventure. It is scary, but incredibly liberating. You have already done the hardest part. You walked out of the house (so did I) you named it and by that simple act you have set the wheels in motion for a life of your own. A life free of whatever it was that was holding you back from being your best, most powerful self. I am not saying it will be easy, because it won't. There are precious children to consider, money to be dealt with and a myriad of emotional issues that go along with the dismantling of a marriage.
In your video you also asked "What three things got you through your transition?" As one who is still in the throes of it, here are my three.
Number One...Give it up to God All of it. Now. Just the sheer act of knowing that you don't know and placing it in his hands is miraculously freeing.
Number Two...Take care of just what's in front of you today. No more, no less.
Number Three...Be good to yourself-gentle and loving. Treat yourself as well as you treat others. I know you are an incredible mother and friend. Love yourself as fiercely as you love your children and those beautiful people who surround you.
And here's a fourth, because it's important... carve out time for a walk on the beach and a cup of perfect coffee or, if you are like me, never underestimate the restorative power of a dry martini and good conversation (especially after a day visiting your lawyers, forensic accountants and your therapist-which you will, alas, be doing on a regular basis.)
As hard as it is to fathom Maria, you have already gotten through the worst part-the uncertainty and agony of waiting and wondering. You jumped and will land powerfully and successfully. Your children will be proud and even Arnold will come around because you are still a family, just in a different form.
So, focus on the three things you can control and know that you are loved and admired by so many. That good energy (and a good hair day-of which you have more than a few...) will carry you through. Your future is bright and cigar-free (take it from me, that is liberation in itself...)