Self-Love Saved Me: Deborah J Shares About Healing Your Inner Storyteller

Deborah J is a storyteller that I discovered on Instagram through my friend Annika Young. She believes self-love should be the foundation for all things, including our creative energy. She’s had posts published by Madame Noire and 21Ninety. This mother of one also enjoys art, running and music. Upon learning of Deborah’s forthcoming book, Black Butterfly, I asked her to share thoughts about healing, narratives and the role of modern storytellers and creatives.

Q: How did you discover you’re a storyteller?

I think I knew as a little girl that I was a storyteller.  I may not have known it through that term, but I’ve always wanted to be a voice for people.  I’ve always enjoyed reading people’s stories or hearing them tell it themselves. I knew someday I wanted to tell people’s stories, starting with my own.  I think that passion began to resonate strongly when I became an advocate for victims of abuse. These people had been silenced for so long and they wanted their voices back.  Stepping in and advocating on their behalf opened a door to do that. I would sit and listen to their stories (many of resilience) and that fire would continue to burn in me.

Q: Let’s talk about Black Butterfly. What inspired this book and are some things revealed in its pages?

Black Butterfly is a collection of poetry and art highlighting traumas I experienced that are the most find difficult to discuss such as abuse, abortion, depression and much more. The book is divided into four parts, each representing the stages of the butterfly transformation. “Just when the caterpillar thought her life was over, she began to fly.”


My trauma inspired this book.  Traumas mold and shape us, yet many choose not to unpack the hurt, allowing it to consume them.  There are warrior souls who make the choice to fight through the shame, hurt and guilt, setting them on the path to healing and putting in the work to process what happened, how it affects them and learning healthy ways to cope and heal. Healing is ugly.  It’s probably one of the messiest jobs you’ll ever do. A healing journey is not for the faint of heart. It takes work, dedication, and patience. I’ve always had an appreciation for the arts. It has become one of my longest avenues to healing.

Q: What is one of the most powerful things you’ve had to unlearn?

Living for the approval of others.

Q: What is something about yourself that you have relearned several times?

That if I’m not operating in my highest frequency then I repeat cycles of unhealthy relationships with people.  It used to be like a revolving door. However, a positive thing I’ve relearned several times about myself is, I am one hell of a manifester.  I have manifested so many things in life. It started out with the manifestation of negative things but once I realized how to use that same power to manifest positive things, it was a wrap.  With that being said; please understand that your thoughts are powerful. If you wish to manifest positive things in your life, those things you desire (your thoughts) have to match your frequency.  Your frequency must be high.

Q: Why are you so devoted to a foundation of self-love? How does that inform your storytelling?

Self-love saved me.  Self-love is something that I make a conscious decision to work on every day.  I don’t think it’s something that I’ve mastered, and that’s okay. I truly enjoy this journey.  I enjoy learning things about myself daily. This shapes my storytelling because self-love empowers me to live my truth.  My hope is that my truth runs over into my storytelling. When I tell stories, I want them to only come from a place of love and truth.

Q: What responsibility, if any, do storytellers and creatives have to their own self-exploration?

One of the first responsibilities of an artist is to know thyself.  Art is a form of self-expression, but what is “self”-expression if you don’t know self? Secondly, I believe storytellers and creatives have a responsibility to bring awareness and spread light across the world.

Q: Your article for 21Ninety discusses 5 types of people to avoid as your life transitions. How did you personally learn to avoid friendships that encourage stagnation, pessimism, gossip, dream killing and dictatorship?

Whew!! This is a good question.  Honestly, this took time. I battled with releasing people for years.  However, this is what I realized during my process. You attract where you are.  If you constantly have friends that gossip, are pessimists, dream killers, dictators etc. then you need to check your vibration.  You very well could be vibrating at a very low frequency if you constantly keep those types of people in your life. When I finally started my journey of self-love, those people eventually left my life because our frequencies didn’t match.   So, if you want to remove those types of people and keep from having those types re-enter your life, then you need to vibrate at a high frequency because those types of people operate on a low frequency.

Q: What’s the last thing you Googled?

Where’s Bigfoot?  (My son is obsessed. LOL)

Q: What’s something that you wish got more media attention and why?

The mindfulness movement.  I think this is so important because of the shift that is taking place.  More people are becoming conscious and aware of self and it’s a beautiful thing.  This shift in spirit can bring such positive change to our communities and world.

Q: What are 3 books you think everyone should read?

The Alchemist

The Mastery of Love

A New Earth

Q: Who are some of your favorite people to follow on Instagram/Twitter for daily wisdom?

Instagram: Jay Shetty, Eckhart Tolle, Will Smith, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Mark Groves, Xonecole

Twitter: Gordana Biernat

Q: Is there anything we missed that you’d like to share?

I am one of 13 children.  I’m number 9.


Please find Deborah J online through these platforms:

Instagram: @iamdeborahj      Instagram: @hero.forher

Twitter: @iamdeborahj

Facebook: @iamdeborahj       Facebook: @HERo. For Her


**This interview is a part of the #gemsxjoy series of conversations with women leaders around design, wellbeing, and business.