My daughter married a wonderful man she met when my husband left me after 28 years.
My husband was suffering from mental health issues. I was the breadwinner, housewife, and mother for many decades. After I lost my job, he quit. The next two years were difficult. I had to find work, pay all my bills, and so on until we got our divorce. Even after that, he continued to demand money.
My last 18 months of working life were spent immersed in the stressful world for the critically ill, particularly the trauma of Covid patients fighting for their lives, and supporting coworkers at the edge of burnout.
So I feel I’ve lost some of my mojo. Even a few months prior to the wedding, it was hard for me to get excited.
My ex-husband had not confirmed his attendance for a fortnight. My daughter wanted him to give her away, but he demanded to bring his girlfriend — who openly dislikes my daughter. He eventually said he’d come alone.
It was wonderful. There were only a few family members on each side, but there were many young friends and colleagues. My ex-husband showed up late the night prior to the wedding, but ignored me at the event. He remained loyal to the bride and groom. I mingled, while also spending time with the six members of my family, including my 90-year-old mum, who’d travelled miles.
My small family was disappointed that my son-in law and daughter-in-law completely ignored them at the reception and evening event. I made light of it by telling them that they were catching-up with all their friends. And they did spend a good 15 minutes with us all as a group — with the number of guests present, that was pretty good.
However, I felt disappointed when I saw the wedding photos. I’m in one with the bride, a family picture (including my ex) and one as part of the entire wedding assembly — with a bridesmaid’s bouquet hiding my face.
My ex-husband is in so many photos with anyone and everyone. After defending my daughter and her choices, I now feel my family have a point — and it hurts.
As my mum says, she won’t be around in a decade, so apart from one group picture including my ex-husband (whom Mum loathes) and a picture with my daughter taken by a friend, she will remain forever a marginal guest in the wedding pictures.
There are dozens more photos of guests that may not be in touch in future. My daughter does not know my feelings. I feel so empty.
How can I move past what (I know) is a minor misfortune?
Bel advises a reader this week who doesn’t get how her daughter could be so unkind at her wedding
Oh, THESE ‘minor miseries’ (see today’s second letter below) can afflict your whole life.
You wake up at 4am with a stab in your heart and questions in your head.
Your longer letter tells me that you think all the time of how you could have made sure you were in your daughter’s wedding photographs . . . but it’s too late now, and you are just left with these feelings of resentment.
It hurts to think about your pain, but it must stop. Tired after all you’ve been through, you must start to be easy on yourself and on others, too.
It worries me that your daughter seems to be the victim. You faintly resent the fact that family members were outnumbered by friends of the bride and groom, but all I can say is — I’m sorry, but the future is theirs, not ours.
Although you wish your daughter would have paid more close attention to her grandmother on her wedding day, you know full well that every bride is in a mad whirlwind and can hardly remember who she spoke with. That’s how it is.
You’re right that many of those other guests will drift away as the years pass. This is how it is.
Nothing you can do now can change what happened, so all that’s left is to turn your negative thoughts into positives. Yes, it is possible. It must.
First, I’d be sure to order a beautiful print of the snap of your daughter with her grandmother, as well as the one of you with her, too — and put them both into handsome frames, ready to present to your mother on Christmas day. This will make you feel better.
There must be one of the bride and groom together, too — and I’d do the same with that and put it on my sideboard. Other photos don’t matter. In a year’s time they won’t even be looked at, especially if they remain in digital form as so many do nowadays.
Your daughter and son-in-law will be getting on with their life together and your ex will be somewhere else with the girlfriend — and out of your life. One day, the happy couple might start their own family. You will find it a joy.
You can either continue to suffer or let go of your pain because the wedding is over. Those ‘special days’ cause too much stress. It is the everyday that matters.
I just can’t face Christmas this year
Although I realize this is a bit premature, my concerns are growing. My problem is: . . Christmas.
I love to give gifts and I shop online for many gifts. But unfortunately this year I just don’t have the desire to shop. And I don’t understand the reason.
I have a childlike affection for the season. I believe in miracles and the magic of it all. Yes, I realise I’m a dreamer, but I can’t help it.
I believe in God, the birth of Jesus Christ, and that is why we celebrate (the whole point) Christmas with the baby in the manger.
But I feel so flat when the season arrives.
I don’t spend money on gifts and only buy what I think a certain person would enjoy. But I am often disappointed by the answer.
My Mum was the sole responsible for Christmas when I was young. My Dad spent most of the day in bed and Mum was there to look after my two children.
It must have been such a stressful time for her, but as a child I wouldn’t have known that.
This Christmas, I will turn 72. I would like to be able to relax more and not expect too much.
I am blessed to have family and friends. I count my blessings.
It’s just that I dread Christmas time and it’s making me sad and I wonder if you can apply your wisdom and understanding to my odd problem.
This is one of those little problems that many people consider trivial but can lead to a decrease in spirits.
These feelings can leave us feeling numb, especially as we age, and we feel a constant yearning for something we can never have.
How many people look in the mirror and see that their life is not what they had hoped for?
I’m not referring to obvious unhappiness — one of the many stresses that afflict our lives, from marriage to family problems, money worries, disappointment at work and disillusionment with friendships. These are all recurring themes in this column.
Your email does not open another door to woe that is difficult to identify.
To be absolutely honest, when you say you ‘very much want to learn how to relax more, not to expect too much and to try to prevent myself from being depressed afterwards’, you could be talking about me, too. Maybe we can learn from one another.
More from Bel Mooney, Daily Mail
There’s a disconnect between the magic of Christmas imagined by so many of us as children and the reality experienced by your mother.
On the other hand, there are stars lights, angels, Father Christmas (plus wise men and animals), adored Christmas carols and the stockings at bed’s end. Oh joy!
On the other hand, there’s shopping, wrapping, labelling, more shopping (this time for food), timing the meal, washing up, and so on and on. Every year. Christmas is joy and drudgery at the same time, and I’ve been cooking turkeys for 43 years and have no idea what to do. Or if I really do want to.
You first mention the buying of presents — so that’s the place to start. Set a budget for the year. Maybe one or two people on your list could get a card rather than a gift.
We tend to spend way too much. So this year, it would be a great time to stop. If you give somebody a posh present and they don’t respond as you’d like, you lay yourself open to disappointment. If you give a ‘token’ (look at the beautiful poem-pamphlets, many of them light-hearted, published by Candlestick Press), you will find your burden lighter.
Please don’t ‘dread Christmas-time’ — because you have the right idea about it. Always remember those beautiful angels bringing ‘tidings of great joy’ and don’t let them fly from your mind.
And finally…A candle can help to banish evil
I often receive emails from my friends and readers expressing grief over the terrible events.
There are times when I feel the same despair. One such moment was watching television footage of Sir David Amess’s widow, a tearful woman, visiting the scene of his vile murder with other family members was captured on television.
Shock and disbelief can be quickly transformed into a universal pessimism that overwhelms — like a stifling black cloth over your face.
The world feels full of hatred — from the detestable language used by a politician like Angela Rayner to the appalling abuse meted out on social media, to the kind of twisted extremism that regards slaughter as ‘just’.
In those moments, I also conclude that the Good is in terminal retreat while triumphant Evil stalks the earth. Yet it’s not the truth. We’d all be driven mad if we bid farewell to hope — and sadly some people do succumb to utter despair.
I have read many letters to this column which I file under ‘angst’ — meaning ‘a feeling of deep anxiety or dread, typically an unfocused one about the human condition or the state of the world in general’.
How can you stop it? Imagine the transformative effects of one candle in a darkened space and light it in your mind.
Visualize that action before you decide what the light is.
I am struck by the wonder parents display when they hold their newborns, and the touching videos that I see online that show human kindness. And so on — too many to list.
Now I’m meditating on the outpouring of respect, gratitude and love for Sir David Amess abroad in the land.
I’m focusing on every single flower laid where his good life ended — and realising that every bloom (and every tear shed) represents something indestructibly good.
Oh, and doesn’t all that greatly outnumber the single terrible act of hatred that took away his life? It always will.