Arnold Schwarzenegger is talking about even the toughest times in his life in his new Netflix docu-series, Arnold. That includes the difficult time in 2011 when he told his family that he had an affair with housekeeper Mildred Baena and was the father of her son, Joseph Baena, born in 1997. In the documentary, Arnold explained why he finally came clean to Maria Shriver about the situation and shared how she reacted.
“Maria and I went to counseling once a week,” he recalled, per PEOPLE. “And in one of the sessions, the counselor said, ‘I think Maria wants to be very specific about something. She wants to know if you are the father of Joseph.’ And I thought my heart stopped and then I told the truth. ‘Yes, Maria, Joseph is my son.’ She was crushed because of that.”
Maria and Arnold married in 1986, had four children together, and announced their separation in May 2011. Days after news of their split, Arnold publicly confirmed that he was Joseph’s father. In the statement he released at the time, he revealed that he had told his family the news after leaving the governor’s office in Jan. 2011.
In the documentary, Arnold added, “I had a affair in 1996. In the beginning, I really didn’t know [he was my child]. I just started feeling, the older he got, the more it became clear to me. Then it was really just a matter of, ‘How do you keep this quiet? How do you keep this a secret?'”
Talking about this publicly “opened up old wounds” for the actor, who seemed to still have regrets about everything. “I’m going to have to live with it the rest of my life,” he admitted. “People will remember my successes and they will also remember my failures. This is a major failure.”
Arnold has a relationship with Joseph today, though, and made it clear that he considers his son a “fantastic man.” He added, “It was wrong what I did, but I don’t want to make Joseph feel like he is not welcomed in this world because he is very much welcomed in this world. I love him and he has turned out to be an extraordinary young man.”
Although Arnold and Maria have been broken up for 12 years, they have a “really great relationship” today, he confirmed. “Any type of special day, we are all together as a family,” Arnold said. “But it’s not what it was when we were all together under one roof as a family. That’s not the case anymore.”