The Simplicity of Complications

Many years ago, I sat in a seaside pub with my boyfriend at the time and some new friends we were spending the weekend with. The coastal town was in North Yorkshire, I can’t even remember the name. We had camped on the Moors the night before and we were now nursing our hangovers on a bright sunny day. None of us had children, we were all unmarried. No-one was clock-watching, worried they needed to get home by a certain time.

It was a whole other lifetime.

A time of freedom.

I remember my conversation with the girl, Heidi, when the boys were up at the bar getting another round of drinks in. She was describing the dysfunctional relationship with her mother, very matter-of-factly. Her mother was a loner, an alcoholic and didn’t have time for Heidi in her life.

Rather than seeming affected by this, Heidi had reached a level of acceptance about her situation. She was very calm, grounded and happy. Despite her being several years younger than me, I remember being rather in awe of her and coming home from that weekend feeling that I really wanted to be someone else.

The phrase she used rings around my head to this day:

“You know, I’m just not a complicated girl.”

I also recall my boyfriend’s reaction when I referenced this comment. A raised eyebrow, followed by a quip about me having to charter a plane for my own emotional baggage.

Despite his jokes at the time, my boyfriend was in our relationship for the long-haul. We went on to marry and, in total, spent nearly eleven years together. Our break-up was eventually caused by the disagreement over having children. Rather than a lot of men who express doubt but then come around to the idea, his doubt lingered and eventually overwhelmed us both.

It was a very sad time, but I’ve no regrets. He taught me a lot and I think of him with nothing but a deep sense of love and gratitude for the times we had.

Since then, I’ve rebuilt my life twice. This is my second go after the first attempt came crashing down.

And I’ve continued to feel like the “complicated girl” Heidi described.

Life has recently collapsed around me once more and I’ve been fumbling, blindly, though the rubble.

During each problem, each crisis, I have defined myself as “complicated”. I’ve defined myself as “difficult”… that somehow the problems in my life were deserved – all part of the package.

This complicated girl doesn’t know what the future holds right now.

A few days ago, I went for another midwife’s appointment. I was on my own, feeling fairly fragile with recent circumstances.

I laid down on the couch and she and I listened to my daughter’s heartbeat.

Da-dum, da-dum, da-dum, da-dum, da-dum….

The strength of that sound was overwhelming…

… the determination of a new, growing life.

“Perfect” said the midwife.

Perfect, I thought to myself.

I wiped the gel from my belly. She tested my blood pressure and booked our next appointment before we said goodbye and I began my walk home.

It was a scorching day. There was hardly a cloud in the sky and there was a gentle breeze. Even in the midst of feeling in utter despair, the beauty of everything around me held some comfort.

I wasn’t far from my house when I heard the low hum of an engine behind me. I was crossing the road and was aware of a hearse driving slowly past, then pulling up just in ahead of me, in front of a house just a few doors down from mine.

I slowed my pace.

I watched a group of people; the family, I suppose, waiting patiently in the front garden. There was an air of sadness about them, of course, but there was something else. Something I felt I needed to see.

I watched them for a moment, their polished shoes shining, the hem of a pretty flowered dress and a striped tie flapping in the breeze, the gentle touch on eachother’s arms, a little boy of about three, dressed immaculately, fumbling with his thumbs as the adults with him talked quietly. After a moment a man, perhaps his dad, scooped him up and clutched him to him. The boy buried his face in his neck, his fingers squeezing around his starched shirt collar.

What was it?

Togetherness… care…

… love.

The door of the hearse opened and a tall man got out, dressed in a black suit and a top hat.

He straightened himself, his suited shoulders broadened and his neck extended. As he did so, he removed his hat. His slicked-back hair gleamed in the sun.

He walked slowly, purposefully, but with a tenderness I can’t even describe, towards the family. When he reached them, he bowed his head. They managed to smile at him briefly, a set of broken smiles, but no words were spoken.

Blossom from the trees blew gently around them all. The only sound was the wind in the trees.

Feeling the lump rise in my throat, I began walking faster again, heading directly for home before the choking overwhelmed me.

But I couldn’t help but notice the flowered bouquets and arrangments of letters in the back of the hearse, alongside the coffin.


Sometimes, when you’re in the midst of hell, there is simplicity to be found. Pull away the rubble, scrape away the dust and you find a new layer of something…

… a new skin.

Of course I can be complicated and difficult. We all can. That’s just not who I am all the time.

In my continued search for contentment… for the simplicity of peace… for a life less complicated…

… I have to remember I am lucky enough to still be here.

And whilst I am here… I still have a choice.

My baby is choosing to live. With every kicks she reminds me of her determination to do this.

I’m going to do the same.

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