My daughter recently married a wonderful man she met when my husband left me after 28 years.
My husband had psychological problems; I was a full-time breadwinner, housewife and mother for decades. He left after I lost my job. The next two years were fraught with finding work, continuing to pay all the bills, etc., until our divorce came through. Even then he kept asking for money.
The past 18 months of my working life have been immersed in the stressful world of the seriously ill, especially the trauma of Covid patients fighting to live, and supporting colleagues on the brink of burnout.
So I feel like I’ve lost some of my mojo. Even a few months before the wedding, I found it hard to get excited.
Fourteen days earlier, my ex-husband was the only guest who did not confirm his presence. My daughter wanted him to give her away, but he demanded that he bring his girlfriend – which my daughter openly dislikes. Finally he said he would come alone.
It was a beautiful day: little family on either side, but a large number of young friends and colleagues. My ex-husband showed up late the night before and ignored me at the wedding, but stayed with the newlyweds. I mingled, while also spending time with the six members of my family, including my 90-year-old mother, who had traveled miles.
My small family group was disappointed that my daughter and son-in-law pretty much ignored them during the reception and evening event. I joked about it and said they were catching up with all their friends. And they spent a good 15 minutes with all of us as a group – with the number of guests in attendance, that was pretty good.
But I felt let down when I saw the wedding photos. I am one with the bride, a family photo (including my ex) and one as part of the whole wedding – with a bridesmaids bouquet hiding my face.
My ex-husband is in so many pictures with everyone. After defending my daughter and her choices, I now feel like my family has a point — and it hurts.
As my mom says she won’t be there in ten years, so other than a group photo with my ex-husband (whom Mom loathes) and a photo with my daughter taken by a friend, she’ll forever be a fringe dude in the wedding photos.
But there are dozens of photos of guests who may be out of touch in the future. My daughter has no idea of my feelings. I just feel so abandoned.
How can I get on with what (I know) is a relatively minor misery?
This week, Bel advises a reader who doesn’t understand how her daughter could snap at her at her wedding
Oh, THIS “little misery” (see today’s second letter below) can torment your whole life.
You wake up at 4 in the morning with a pang of regret through your heart and questions tormenting your mind.
Your longer letter tells me that all the time you think about how you could have made sure you were in your daughter’s wedding photos. . . but it’s too late now and you’re left with these feelings of resentment.
I don’t want to think about your pain, but it really has to stop. Tired after all you’ve been through, you need to start being kind to yourself and to others too.
Thought of the day
If there is such a thing as wisdom… it lies in the acceptance of the human condition and perhaps the knowledge that those who have died are still with us, out there in the mist, showing us the way, sometimes uttering a word of warning the shadow that sometimes visits us in our sleep.
From Robicheaux by James Lee Burke (American author, 1936)
I’m concerned that you seem to be blaming your daughter. You’re a little annoyed that there were more relatives than friends of the bride and groom, but all I can say is, I’m sorry, but the future is theirs, not ours.
Yes, you wish your daughter had paid more attention to her grandmother, but you know full well that every bride is in a crazy daze on her wedding day and will barely remember who she spoke to. That’s how it is.
You’re right that a lot of those other dudes will drift away as the years go by. So it is.
Nothing you can do now can change what happened, so all you need to do is turn your negative thoughts into positive ones. Yes it is possible. And it must.
First, I would definitely order a nice print of your daughter’s photo with her grandmother, as well as yours with her, and put them both in a nice frame ready to present to your mom on Christmas day. Doing this task will make you feel better.
There must also be one of the bride and groom together – and I would do the same and put it on my dresser. Other snaps don’t really matter. In a year, they won’t even be viewed anymore, especially if they remain in digital form like so many these days.
Your daughter and son-in-law will move on with their lives together and your ex will be somewhere else with the girlfriend – and out of your life. In time, the happy couple can start a family (who knows?) and that will be a joy for you.
Honestly, you can continue to take care of your pain, or let it go because the wedding is over. Those ‘special days’ cause too much stress. What matters is the ordinary every day.
I just can’t handle Christmas this year
I know this is a bit premature, but my concerns are mounting. My problem is. . . Christmas.
I love gift giving and around this time (and even earlier last year due to the pandemic) I usually buy online for a lot of gifts. But unfortunately I just don’t feel like shopping this year. And I don’t understand the reason.
I have a childlike love of the season, believing in miracles, the magic, the love and joy of it all. Yes, I realize I’m a dreamer, but I can’t help it.
I believe in God and in the birth of Jesus and why we (the whole point of Christmas) celebrate the baby in the manger.
But so many times, when the season is over, I can’t lift myself and I just feel flat.
I never budget on gifts and buy what I think that particular person would want. But so many times I end up disappointed by the response.
When I was young, my dear mother had the sole responsibility for Christmas, as my father usually spent all day in bed, while mother waited for him hand and foot and looked after two children.
It must have been such a stressful time for her, but as a child I would not have known that.
This year at Christmas I will have turned 72 and I really want to learn to relax more, not expect too much and try to avoid getting depressed afterwards.
I’m lucky enough to have family and friends, so I count my blessings.
It’s just that I dread Christmas and it makes me sad and I wonder if you can apply your wisdom and understanding to my strange problem.
This is one of those nagging little issues that many people will consider trivial, but can cause a downpour.
Such feelings, especially as we get older, can leave us with a constant longing for what we know that can never be fulfilled.
How many people look in the mirror and realize that this life is not what they hoped for?
I’m not talking about obvious unhappiness – one of the many tensions that plague our lives, from marital to family problems, money worries, disappointment at work, and disillusionment with friendships. Those are all recurring staples of this column.
No, your simple email opens another door of misery that is hard to define.
To be quite honest, when you say you’re “very eager to learn to relax more, not expect too much and try not to get depressed afterwards,” then you could be talking about me. Maybe we can learn from each other.
More from Bel Mooney for the Daily Mail…
There is a discrepancy between the magic of Christmas that so many of us imagined as children and the reality your mother experiences.
On one side there are stars, lights, angels, Santa Claus, baby Jesus (plus sages, shepherds and animals), adored carols and the stockings at the foot of the bed. Oh joy!
On the other hand, there’s shopping, packing, labeling, shopping more (this time for food), timing the meal, washing dishes, and so on and so forth. Every year. Christmas is joy and rut at the same time and after 43 years of cooking turkeys I have no idea how to change things. If I really want to.
You mention buying presents first – so that’s the place to start. Why not be disciplined and set yourself a budget this year, maybe decide that one or two on your list can just have a card instead of a gift?
We tend to overspend, so this year would be a great time to change the habit. If you give someone a fancy gift and they don’t respond the way you’d like, you’re exposing yourself to disappointment. If you give a ‘token’ (look at the beautiful pamphlets of poems, mostly lighthearted, published by Candlestick Press), you will find that your burden is lighter.
Please don’t be afraid of the Christmas time because you have a good idea about it. Always remember those beautiful angels who bring “tidings of great joy” and don’t let them fly out of your mind.
And finally… A candle can help banish evil
When something terrible happens, I usually receive haunted emails from readers and friends, expressing sadness at the state of the world.
There are times when I share that despair. Watching television footage of Sir David Amess’s tearful widow visiting the scene of his despicable murder with other devastated relatives was one such moment.
Shock and disbelief can quickly turn into a universal pessimism that overwhelms – like a suffocating black cloth over your face.
Bel answers readers’ questions about emotional and relationship issues on a weekly basis.
Write to Bel Mooney, Daily Mail, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If desired, a pseudonym is used.
Bel reads all the letters, but regrets that she cannot enter into personal correspondence.
The world is full of hate – from the detestable language used by a politician like Angela Rayner, to the horrific abuse expressed on social media, to the kind of twisted extremism that sees slaughter as ‘just’.
In those moments I also conclude that Good is in terminal retreat, while triumphant Evil haunts this earth. Yet it is not the truth. We would all go crazy if we said goodbye to hope – and unfortunately some people succumb to utter despair.
I have read many letters to this column that I file under “anxiety” – meaning “a feeling of deep fear or anxiety, typically an unfocused feeling about the human condition or the state of the world in general.”
How to fight it? By imagining the transformative effect of a single candle in a darkened room and consciously lighting one in your mind.
Really visualize that action, just before you decide what the light represents.
So I think of the wonder on the faces of parents as they cradle their newborn, the uplifting videos I watch online that show human kindness. And so on – too many to list.
Now I meditate on the outpouring of respect, gratitude and love for Sir David Amess abroad in the country.
I focus on every flower laid where its good life ended – and realize that every bloom (and every tear) represents something indestructible good.
Oh, and isn’t all that much greater than the single horrific act of hatred that cost him his life? It always will.