“With dating, I was looking for someone who felt good to my nervous system.” – Koya Webb
I had the absolute pleasure of sitting down with Aeshia Devore Branch as we chatted about healing and building relationships on my Lifestyle Design Podcast. I had to do a lot of self-reflecting on what I truly wanted in a partner like having commonality with someone and acknowledging past traumas I’ve been through such as dating narcissistic men. Personal work is so important when you’re thinking about sharing your life and energy with another person. A big part of my growth was taking accountability for the part I played in the situations. Needless to say, I was sensitive and my body was on high alert. Listen to your body it never lies!
I became crystal clear on what I wanted in a partner and I narrowed it down to someone who is:
- Feels good to me
- Respects me and my journey
Whether you have wants, needs, or non-negotiables when it comes to your partner, it’s crucial to become clear on what it is that you’re looking for so that the universe can surprise and wow you with the delivery of this person. Oftentimes we focus a lot on what we don’t want, and as we are the creators in control of our own lives, our focus is what the universe will provide. If you’ve not taken the time to consider and dream up the spectacular person you want to come into your life, the ultimate partner who will fulfill your needs and desires, I highly recommend you do so. That way you can focus your energy on attracting this person into your life.
Relationships make up a huge part of our lives, and if managed properly, we can truly thrive in this area. When you think about it, we build so many types of relationships all of the time; whether that be with yourself, a significant other, your family, work and business partners, and sisterhoods, this pillar is a major category in the majority of our lives. Relationships and human connection is also something we long for. It can have a detrimental effect on our mental and emotional wellbeing if we’re deprived of it or are in situations that may not be suitable for us to thrive.
We often overlook the fact that building healthy relationships, even with ourselves, is hard work. You have to make the time and put in the energy and effort for your relationships to thrive. It is a part of our natural makeup as humans to sometimes compare ourselves and our relationships to others. Especially with social media, we can draw our own conclusions and assume a couple or an individual has it all figured out. With this thought process, if we’re not careful, we can find ourselves feeling stuck or moving away from our path and what is meant for us.
I shared this with Aeshia and told her, at least from the outside, it appears she has a dreamy relationship with her family. Right away, she shared a gem that the reason it looks like perfection from the outside is because they are grateful. No matter what they go through, they love one another and know that they have each other, which I believe is a beautiful foundation to start with. Gratitude and Love. That doesn’t mean that in the heat of the moment things can feel a little sticky. Another gem she shared was that, through the difficult times it is important to listen, have compassion for the other person, and understand the root of what they are trying to express. I think we can all relate that in debates and arguments, some words may not come across the way someone actually means them. It can be helpful to pause and remove the emotion to unveil what they’re trying to say.
So what does it mean to do the work? It is impossible to avoid all conflict in any relationship, even with yourself. So when things get messy, what are some inspired actions you can take for conflict resolution? Aeshia and her husband have been married for 19 years and although they have different personalities, they’re able to remain strong and make their union work.
Here’s the tea on what Aeshia deems contributory to their success as a couple:
- Honor, Acknowledge, and Respect the Differences In Your Relationships: Just because you and your partner may communicate differently doesn’t mean that you can’t come together as a unit. Seek someone who is willing to do the work and find commonality to meet them where they are.
- Leverage What You Can: Use resources like therapy to better understand your partner [and yourself] so that you’re able to communicate with them and get to a positive resolution together.
- Authentic Expression: Try to avoid changing your person or vice versa so you both can remain true to who you are.
- Be in Service of Your Partner: It is a relationship after all, and for you both to grow, it can’t be about you all of the time.
- God’s Plan: Be open to what God and/or the universe has in store for you. We can sometimes get so caught up on how we want and feel things should go that it prevents us from seeing all of the possibilities offered that could lead us to even greater success. Aeshia mentioned this as she spoke about when she was considering raising children: “setting them up for success, not controlling their journey to success,” and the power in that statement can be applied in so many areas.
We got on the subject of what my desires were in a partner and how there is so much disconnect and dislike between women and men. The more I thought of it, it wasn’t just the respect and love for me, it was genuine love for women. I was attracted to my current partner and now fiancée’s open and honest communications about his past experiences. He told me why they didn’t work out, but did so in a respectful manner as he respects the women in his life, like his mother. I was very attracted by that. In this same perspective, I had to fall in love with the possibility that I could be loved by a man, which speaks to the magnitude of the trauma there is on both sides. I watched the Black Love series to overcome my fears about what was possible for me.
There is a true difference between healthy relationships and perfect relationships. In life, it can be natural to be triggered by your partner, but who they are at their core should be who you are in love with.
We got into daddy-daughter relationships and Aeshia discussed how her husband mirrors her relationship with her dad and her upbringing. She mentioned that when a woman didn’t have the opportunity to have a relationship with her father as a child, it can impact her relationship with men when it is time to date. Although I have healed my relationship with my father, he wasn’t affectionate with me growing up. Because of this, I committed to desiring something different from what I experienced as a child. The number one thing I learned through my interactions with my father is that I am loved just as I am and I don’t have to do anything, unlike what I once thought. By watching my parents still together now, I also learned that it takes effort and can be healing when no abuse is present.
Within any relationship, it is important to stand up for yourself. You must understand what is hurtful to you so that you can express it to heal yourself, create your boundaries, and better communicate within the relationship.
As mentioned, therapy can be a great resource for not only your relationships but for yourself. You can build communication skills and coping mechanisms to balance relationships with those in your life. Therapists are a neutral party. They are professionals that, as Aeshia said best, can be a great buffer between you and the source of your anger or frustrations.
Speaking of anger, have you ever realized you get angry with some people in your life more than others? You’re not alone and your feelings are valid. I often found myself being angry at my father. Through much personal work, I uncovered the root cause being because I wanted him to change. Something that has been freeing for me is to learn to manage my anger while accepting and respecting people for who they are in order to properly communicate.
It’s about being aware and taking care of yourself and your emotions. We both agreed that meditation, breathwork, and taking a step back may be best when getting someone to hear you in a moment of tension. Both tone and how you express your emotions in general play a role in this strategy to remain in control of yourself. Aeshia shared that sometimes it’s about softening or lowering your tone and leading by example.
Some helpful tools that I’ve practiced are transformational letter writing and holotropic breathwork to release stuck emotions, in which I am now certified to teach my community. The process begins with forgiveness work by stating how you feel, followed by breathwork for the regulation of your nervous system. The last portion is an apology letter acknowledging what has happened and how you feel about it. I’ve learned that it effectively dissolves the anger for me so that I am not holding on to low vibrational energy.
On the topic of sisterhood, it can be healing and transformational as long as the group sees and hears one another. Aeshia shared her thoughts on this topic as she expressed she “couldn’t be in existence without having a good circle of women.”
What exactly does having a sisterhood look and feel like for Aeshia?
- Sisterhood that provides what she can’t get from her romantic relationship
- Understanding womanhood, where you’ve been and where you’re going
- Helping to find balance and opportunities to be her truest self
- Receiving and hearing
- Having fun
Having fun looks a bit different now that we’re older but like children, we still need play time. Aeshia shared how pool dates, workout classes, walking, and just spending time together with her sisterhood are ways that give her joy and fill her up. She went on to say that the moments with her sisterhood are times that need to be scheduled and she is grateful for the opportunities to catch up with friends, have meaningful conversations, and partake in meetups.
As women we juggle so many hats, being wives, mothers, businesswomen, daughters, and much more. Having the right sisterhood can be beneficial in many ways such as:
- A sense of togetherness
- Not feeling alone on your journey
- Having a listening ear
We both love those relationships where we can just pick up where we left off no matter where life decides to take us. For me, prioritizing sisterhood is nurturing. Sisterhood can offer a variety of activities like going out for dinner and having deep meaningful conversations like I did with my friends in LA. It can also look like wellness activities such as hiking, walking, and yoga. I had to admit that during a lot of my twenties and thirties, I missed connections like these, especially on a daily or weekly basis. It does feel like a cherry on top of the cake. I love the feeling of my circle being heard, seen, and held. There is a difference between friendships among women and men vs. a sisterhood. With my sisterhood, we can talk about our hair, bodies, and our relationships! I cannot stress enough about the importance of having women in your life that root for you, cheer for you, and GAS YOU UP! It’s good for your soul and makes you glow.
Within friend circles, I believe almost every woman has been in an unsavory situation where another woman was jealous of them, competed with them, or made them feel less than. I too have experienced unhealthy relationships within sisterhood and understand the trauma and fear that comes with it. Thinking back on my childhood, I didn’t get to see the close relationships my mom and dad had with their friends outside of the family because we lived in the country. I didn’t feel I had examples to show me what they should look like and so I had to cultivate what that looks like for myself.
Aeshia feels she is doing a great job at showing her children what healthy relationships look like with friends because they have taken on the “auntie” role for her children. Her children have her friends’ numbers and can reach out to me and her other friends when they want to spend time with us, and for anything else they might need. Our ancestors taught us that “it takes a village” to raise our children and that is something I desire to mirror, whether I start a family or hold space for my nieces and nephews.
To round off our conversation on healing and building relationships, we discussed the important values to hold while building a romantic relationship:
Here are some of my takeaways from Aeshia:
- Allow the person to be who they are
- Don’t sweat the small stuff
- Plan time together to get to know one another and choose activities that make you both slightly uncomfortable [build a bond by being students together]
- Date your mate! No matter the stage – This was a good one because she touched on the fact that no matter how long you’ve been with your person, you won’t ever fully know them because they will have hopefully evolved so much since the beginning of your journey together.
This resonated for me with my experience dating Daren. I shared that we intentionally have date nights once a week and sometimes more to keep our relationship healthy. I also agreed with not sweating the small stuff. Scheduling is important for me as well so that I can make time for love, cleaning and organizing, working out, and again, dating each other, to be sure everything is working for us both. We circled back to communication of your needs being key in all relationships. Along with communication, doing a relationship audit on a regular, recurring basis helps to grow and mature any relationship. A sticky part of this assessment is understanding that sometimes relationships can transition to a close when you are no longer serving one another.
We ended our chat with a round of rapid fire that went something like this:
Koya- “What is your favorite song?”
Aeshia- “‘Lovely Day’ by Bill Withers”
Koya- “What’s your favorite thing to receive from another person?”
Koya- “What is your favorite thing to do with another person?”
Aeshia- “Explore something new.”
Aeshia- “Where is your favorite place to travel to visit?”
Koya- ”Kemet, Egypt for the culture. Bali for self-care.”
Aeshia “What’s one thing that scares you?”
Koya- “I’m a little bit nervous about marriage and motherhood [but excited and supported].”
Aeshia- “What’s one superpower that you wish you had?”
Koya- “Being able to wave my hand and make people vibrate at the highest frequency of love.”
Thank you so much, Aeshia, for taking the time to sit with me and talk about how to thrive in relationships, the sticky parts that come with it, and understanding your own healing journey with love! You can find our podcast segment on my YouTube channel – Koya Webb – or by the link in this blog under Lifestyle Design with Koya Webb. Did you relate to anything we discussed on this podcast? Feel free to connect with us in our community!
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