As Told To is a recurring segment on xoNecole where real women are given a platform to tell their stories in first-person narrative as told to a writer.
This is Elease and Ra's story, as told to Charmin Michelle.
They say love comes unexpectedly...well that saying doesn't suffice when summarizing the love story of my fiancee Ra and I. 'Unexpectedly' doesn't even begin to describe the journey of our union. Here's a story of how I found everything I needed, in the most unexpected person.
Meeting An Unknown Lover
Ra and I met during a weekend trip to Atlanta. She came with our mutual friend, who is also my line sister, and a group of others as I was visiting Atlanta with my best friend and a few of her friends. One drunken night led to me arriving at their Airbnb, briefly meeting Ra, and eventually ending the night at the ever-famous Waffle House with friends. We each returned home with no further thoughts, other than a great time and plenty of laughs. We never thought romantically of each other at this time, so I resumed working and casually dating.
Ra went back to Nashville working and still entangled in a previous relationship.
At the time, she had been involved in same-sex relationships for the greater part of her adult life and I, on the other hand, had zero experiences. I grew up a preacher's kid and full Southern Baptist. No other explanation needed there, however, I had my own thoughts and feelings in regards to same-sex unions. I had tons of friends near and dear who identify as LGBTQ and I supported them in all ways.
A year passed and our friends planned an adventure-filled weekend in Nashville, including hiking to a waterfall and renting a boat for a day party. Unbeknownst to me, this was also Ra's birthday weekend. The most contact we had during the weekend was Ra, at my request, taking a picture of me near the Titan Stadium Bridge. It was at that point numbers were exchanged, with zero romantic notions. I was just a girl wanting a picture on the newest iPhone to post on her feed.
While in Nashville, Ra played a song that I loved but I could not pinpoint the title. Days later, I thought to text her to find out the title of this mystery song. "God is a Woman" by Ariana Grande turned out to be the title. From that text sparked a routine of daily conversations about music. After a few weeks, music conversations shifted to life in general.
Bonding over music unlocked in me the ability to see Ra for simply who she is; a soul. Her gender did not matter to me.
Even though this was foreign to me, the smile I got when her messages came in and the anticipation that grew to meet in person, it all overshadowed any doubt and fear on embarking on this journey of discovery with her. Eventually, I admitted to Ra that I enjoyed where this is going but I couldn't understand it. All of my previous relationships have all been heterosexual and had lasted years--what was happening? Ultimately, I quit caring, and we decided to begin dating exclusively.
Life In An Unfamiliar Territory
Our relationship was beautiful, we were inseparable. But unfortunately, we were also long-distance. I began to slow down how fast I was falling for her for my own protection.
A straight girl, out of the blue, dating a woman and being genuinely all in? This in itself was worth apprehension. She asked for time to sort things out and we did just that.
When the holidays arrived, we had our annual friend gathering for Christmas. After exchanging gifts and playing games, Ra got down on one knee, to the surprise of everyone, and asked me to be her girlfriend. She presented me with a promise ring and it was official. We continued long-distance, burning the highway up back and forth, until I decided to move to Nashville and move in with Ra.
And we've been together ever since.
Lessons And Blessings
Listen ladies, I have no coming out story to share. I've never been romantically attracted to women or have had an secret rendezvous, and growing up, I had witnessed a lot in the marriage of my parents and the breakdown of their relationship. But I didn't care. I was happy and welcomed people to share in my joy. I was fully transparent with no qualms. Some people may think, oh that's something you had to have considered or repressed, but it honestly was not.
I even remember having internal battles with myself in regards to my relationship with God. There was a minute where it felt like everything that could go wrong with my life, job and finances were going wrong. I questioned if this was due to my relationship with Ra.
Was I being punished?
But ultimately, it takes more than love. Love is a solid foundation but it cannot sustain a relationship alone.
Ra does not belong to me, she's simply chosen to share her life with me and I have chosen to share my life with her. We maintain our happiness by respecting what makes us unique with freedom to be open, honest and by genuinely enjoying each other's company.
We are not perfect nor do we try to portray ourselves to be but what we are is real. The acceptance of the public didn't matter.
Who cares what they think, you know? Who cares?
Two years and a dog later, here we are: engaged and in love. Has the journey been perfect? Absolutely not. But has it been worth it? 100 percent. Find someone who accepts that and is still willing to go on the journey with you. You won't always get it right but love, respect, and friendship will get you through it all. I cannot wait to see our journey continue to unfold. Give that girl a try sis, she may be everything you want and need.
The future Mrs. Dozier
Elease and Ra have a YouTube channel where you can keep up with their adventures. You may also follow them on Instagram at @icametoslay and @radigha.
Featured image courtesy of Elease and Ra
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Russell and Nina Westbrook are one of those low-key, unproblematic couples we don’t talk about enough. They met in college and got married in 2015. They also have a beautiful family with three kids. While Russell is an NBA star, Nina is a licensed family and marriage therapist and a mental health advocate.
She recently launched the podcast The Relationship Chronicles with Nina Westbrook, and in the latest episode, she had none other than her husband on as a guest. The college sweethearts dived into important topics from marriage to children and how they navigate it all.
One of the topics they touched on was dealing with resentment in your relationship. The former MVP highlighted the sacrifices his wife has had to make in order for him to pursue a career in the NBA, and that’s why it’s also important for him to support his wife whenever he can.
“For me is respecting and understanding what your partner do and the time it takes,” Russell said. “Not kind of downplaying what they do, understanding the time and energy and effort they're doing to make sure whether it’s their job or making sure home is taken care of, and understanding that, I think that is the challenge of not being resentful.”
Nina agreed and also shared her thoughts on resentment. According to her, one of the best things couples should do is have their own identity and passions outside of the relationship in an effort to be fulfilled.
“I also think that when you’re in a relationship, that’s why it’s so important that each individual kinda pursue their own passions and follow their own dreams as I feel like it only becomes or leads to resentment when one person is not feeling fulfilled in what they're doing in their lives,” she explained.
“And so, they will start to look at the other partner who’s happy or excelling or promoting or moving along in their journey, then they’re left feeling stuck like they sacrificed themselves, their happiness, their career, their future and have not pursued it in the name of the relationship or their partner. So, it’s so much easier to avoid those feelings of resentment when you’re each equally pursuing your passions.”
The couple has many passions that they work on together and separately. Outside of basketball and his family, Russell has become known for his eclectic style and started the fashion brand Honor The Gift. Nina has her podcast, and she also started the mental health website Bene. Together, they run the Why Not? Foundation, which works with kids in underserved communities.
“I’m a firm believer that one person can’t be everything to you, so you have to sort of seek out those different friendships or groups or hobbies or activities that help to fulfill you,” Nina concluded.
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Feature image by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images for Religion of Sports