Mary Lou Retton is still recovering emotionally after divorcing her husband of nearly three decades earlier this year, she revealed Monday on Dancing With the Stars.
Prior to performing a tango to "Shame" by Elle King for Monday's Halloween night episode of the ABC reality show, the Olympian sat down with pro partner Sasha Farber to open up and be vulnerable about her emotional state.
"I went through a divorce. People don't know that. It's the first time I've actually said it publicly," she admitted to Farber about her now ex-husband, Shannon Kelley. "After 27 years, so it's very new."
The couple officially finalized their divorce in February after first wedding in 1990, she explained, and the separation "was hard," Retton explained.
"I felt very alone," she told Farber.
The two exes are still on good terms, she added, explaining, "It's something that had really needed to happen for a long time. We still love one another, but we weren't great together anymore."
Luckily for the gold medalist, she had her four daughters with Kelley — Shayla, 23, McKenna, 21, Skyla, 18, and Emma, 16.
"Thank God for my four girls," she said. "They loved me unconditionally."
Learning more about herself through the challenge of dancing has been vital, she added.
"When I walked in here, I knew I was starting over, and I was scared. But now, I know I'm starting over, but I'm excited," she told Farber. "There's that mental switch."
The former athlete has been open about her experience on Dancing With the Stars being a transformative one for her throughout her time on the show.
During last week's Disney night episode, Retton revealed how she connected to the Mulan song, "Reflection," that she and Farber danced to.
"The whole message of Mulan, it's about loving yourself. It's about knowing you're enough," she explained. "This song is spot on for me. When I reflect on how I was when I first came into this dance competition, I'd lost myself. And this journey is really helping me to find myself. I'm finding confidence again, my self-esteem is rising, I'm really happy with the improvement I've seen within myself, within my soul. That woman that I lost over the years is starting to peek out and I like who I see. I really do."
During the judging, she even began to tear up.
"One of the first things I told Sasha was that one of the biggest challenges is to be vulnerable, and I'm feeling it," she explained. "I'm making so many changes in this show."
Farber agreed, saying, "She came in all broken and scared, and now she's standing on her own two feet. She's powerful and I'm just so proud of her. I mean she's inspiring me every day."0comments
Dancing With the Stars airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.
Photo Credit: Instagram/Mary Lou Retton