As I expand into my new house, I’m experiencing the bittersweetness of leaving my old identity behind.

I’ve strongly related with the broke single mom archetype. Prevailing against all odds. Breaking free of harmful relationships. Strong. Overcoming the struggle and shining through the adversity. Magical, because years ago I only had $50 in the bank and miraculously made it through. The quaintness of living in a tiny house. The “I know how to make the best of it” attitude, which turns forgotten pantry items into gourmet meals.

I imagine you have your own version of this, the identity that you’ve clung to (proudly perhaps) as who “you” are—even when that identity was poor, alone, confused, or somehow struggling.

We hang on to these identities because they give us power and strength. However, I’ve discovered they tend to produce the type of “power” that comes from drama. These are the dramatic stories of struggle and overcoming adversity. They are awesome, and they show deep bravery.

However, leaving the old identity behind takes as much bravery if not more. As I often say, it takes work to be happy! Expanding takes courage. Ironically, it can be easier to stay small and stuck than to expand and change.

I’ve been feeling this HARDCORE in my new upgraded experience of sun-drenched house, loving partner, and kids who have their own bedrooms (an anomaly in Santa Cruz due to the stratospheric cost of living!). I’ve found myself loving my newfound coming-up-ness—and also desperately missing my “old life.”

The other day, Jimmy and I biked from the new house to the store and as soon as I hit Soquel Ave, I started sobbing. “I can’t go to Staff of Life! (The awesome health food store that was just 3 blocks from my old place.) It’s like seeing an old lover! It’s too soon!” Yes, I was actually crying on my bike.

There are times when my kids are in their rooms and I’m downstairs, and I long for those simpler times when there was just one room to hang out in. There wasn’t any choice, so we just hung together all the time.

This morning I was talking with a friend and she said: “The past isn’t the interesting story. It’s the dramatic story of struggle. The real story you’re telling is how to be happy and enjoy life NOW. That’s a message every woman needs to hear!”

Last night, a different friend and I were talking about the push and pull of most relationships: one person wants more connection, the other one pulls away. And I said, “I just don’t do that anymore. There’s a more interesting thing to do than play out the “I can’t have it” dance—where connection is scarce, intimacy is scary, and boundaries are hard. It’s the “I CAN have it” dance! Where connection is plentiful, intimacy is safe, and boundaries are easy.

I am experiencing first hand the extreme bravery it takes to be happy and to persist in my expansion despite easy opportunities to shrink back to the old size.

Jimmy and I had a disagreement. Our property managers were upset with us (already!). My stomach doesn’t feel well again. This town is too expensive. I’m 5 pounds heavier than I want to be. No one liked my last blog post (true story!! )

These excuses have gotten bo-ring! Sure, “things happen.” They’ll keep happening. I get to choose if I use those “things” for my expansion and growth, or to bolster my old identity of struggle.

For me, the gateway to living expansion was prioritizing my own sexual fulfillment and learning to receive. I think it’s vital to have a pathway that works that muscle of “having more” and allowing life to be great. Because although it may seem hard to believe, it takes work to be happy—more work than being miserable. My pathway is sex. What’s yours?

Bez Stone

Bez Stone

Advocate for women's sexual fulfillment