In a jammed packed room in front of thousands of black men and women who gathered to hear her utter words of empowerment, Mary J. Blige did just that.
Speaking on her critically acclaimed new album, aptly titled, Strength of a Woman, the queen of Hip-Hop Soul and the ESSENCE Fest 2017 headliner spilled her truth to journalist Tamron Hall about tapping into her black girl magic and how it helped to bring her out of a dark place.
“The journey that got us here is that every woman can relate to a woman out there fighting for her marriage,” she began. “When I first started writing this album I was fighting for my marriage. There were a lot of layers to me peeled back for this marriage. I really thought I did [find] the love of my life.”
Mary filed for divorce from her husband of 12 years, Kendu Isaacs, in July of 2016. Since announcing that their marriage was over, their public and ongoing divorce battle has not been easy, but the 46-year-old is honest about being living in self-doubt and growing and glowing through it.
“I don’t know if people seen the last eight or five years of my life, but it’s been hell,” she said. “And it’s been ugly and it’s been public and it’s been nasty. So, in the midst of all that. And the stuff that people don’t even know about — fighting for my life, fighting for my marriage, fighting for my morals and everything — I discovered my strength. My strength, my real strength is discovered.”
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In her darkest moments, Mary admits that prayer got her through it all.
“Being Mary J. Blige the celebrity is secondary and I’m a human being first and I suffer just like everyone else,” said the singer. “I believe that I wasn’t given this career or this job as a singer or this gift from God to sit down and say, ‘I’m going to suffer from the world in silence and die.’ And it’s therapeutic for me as well. So, you know, that’s why. It’s not just for me.”
As she reflected on her journey to finding her strength as a woman, she shares that, “I would tell my 15-year old self to love yourself because people are going to love who you are in the future. They are going to love you.”
And we do.
This article originally appeared on Essence.com