Mary J. Blige is baring more than her toned abs in her November cover shoot for Self — she’s also baring her soul.
The singer and Oscar-nominated actress comes clean in her Self interview with writer Jamilah Lemieux — tackling her painful 2018 divorce, being sexually abused as a child and past substance abuse, which she regards as a coping mechanism.
“We numb ourselves with drugs and alcohol and people and shopping and s***, to cover up what’s really going on inside,” she says. “You’re taking drugs so you can go out and feel courageous, or go out and feel beautiful or whatever. You’re doing it to cover up something.”
The 48-year-old says she got sober after having visions of herself overdosing or dying because of drugs. She also says it “took a lot of prayer” to get to where she is today.
But the star was more resistant to seeking more formal counseling, fearing that a therapist might expose her secrets.
“For years I would not see a therapist. I just would handle it. For years, for years,” she says, citing “how people would do anything for money, and how anybody at any moment can become paparazzi.”
Though her songs have often referenced her personal turmoil, Blige prefers to keep some cards close to her chest, saying, “You only know what I tell you. And I don’t tell everything.
“As public as I am, I’m real private,” she adds. “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?”
God, she says, is the exception: Her go-to confidante and very own “Mary J. Blige.”
“He showed me the truth in me, so I can be transparent,” she tells the magazine. “But I don’t have someone I listen to. I don’t. It’s just me. It’s a very alone place, but it is what it is. And it’s always been this.”
The newly single music legend also says she’s more invested in mothering herself — including a practice that includes naps, exercise, a healthy diet, daily prayer and affirmations — than becoming a mother.
“Right now I’m not thinking about anybody but her,” she says of practicing self-love. “I love people, I love the world, I love my nieces, I love my nephews, I love my family, I love them so deeply. 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.”
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