Today, SELF released an interview with the musical legend Mary J. Blige about how she recovered from a very public, painful and draw out divorce from her ex-husband and manager of 13 years, Kendu Isaacs. During the interview, Mary never speaks his name and as a result the writer of the Self article doesn’t either. Still, she spoke about the problematic nature of their relationship, including her crediting him for too much, like her sobriety.
“Well, when I look back, I see that we all want what we want. And we want it to be the way we want it to be,” she says. “I wanted a savior. I’d been hurting so long, and so much, and so bad…He did not deserve that credit.” She says she put her ex in the driver’s seat not because he was equipped to handle it but because she wanted the fairy tale to be real.”
There were several things that led to her sobriety, including visions she had seen of herself if she continued using.
“I’ve seen visions of what I would look like if I kept doing drugs,” she says, adding that there were also some nights when her reality may have mirrored those perhaps prophetic visualizations closely. If I saw myself almost dying, or if I almost died, or almost O.D.’d, why would I do that again?”
Mary also shared that while we, the public know a lot about the pain and trauma she’s experienced since she was a child, we still don’t know everything. Even her family members aren’t privy to everything she’s endured and overcome.
“Everybody thinks they know everything, but nobody really knows. You only know what I tell you. And I don’t tell everything. I still can’t tell my mother everything that happened in that marriage. It took me a long time to tell my mom something that happened to me when I was smaller,” Blige says, referring to the childhood sexual abuse. “I was 33 years old when I revealed to my mom how I was molested. Thirty-three. Because I didn’t want to hurt her. And I wish I didn’t do it then, but I had to. “As public as I am, I’m real private…I’ll give you the juice and the truth, but not the stuff that’s going to kill me…I grew up in a neighborhood where we couldn’t tell everything. It would kill us. So you ‘know,’ but you don’t [know]. You know?”
Still, she’s open to sharing because she knows how her story has been able to help other women like her.
“It happened because every night that I’m at these shows, I have at least four women say [to me], ‘You got me through the divorce that I was going through. That Strength of a Woman album? We was going through [your] divorce with you’…. I had to go through that in order to serve.”
While she knows her journey has been inspirational for others, she’s still invested in prioritizing herself.
“But right now it’s about me and little Mary. It’s like that’s my baby, my little girl. She needs my help…and I’m not going to ever let anybody hurt her again. She needs to live, she needs to play. She doesn’t mind her life being used to help someone else…. But I have to take care of her.”
You can read Mary’s full interview with Self, here.
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