BEL MOONEY: My mother is so cruel I fear love will never bloom in my life

My mother is so cruel I fear love will never bloom in my life

I was ten when my mother last gave me a cuddle, or told me she loved me

I was ten when my mother last gave me a cuddle, or told me she loved me


This is hard to write, as I have so much I want to say.

For the majority of my relatively short life (I am 22), my mother and I have had a volatile, and emotionally abusive relationship.

When I was violently attacked at 13, my mother’s sole concern was with her own inability to cope — never mind my utter trauma.

Later, when I was taken to hospital for surgery, to be told I may never have children, and would be in pain for the rest of my life, she moaned aboutmy needing to take time off work following the operation.

For over ten years, she had an affair, often leaving me to cover for her, or babysit my siblings.

Whenshe was caught, rather than accept it and try to recover any semblance of trust and respect, she would persistently blame everyone else, and say she was going to kill herself — a threat she has often made throughout my life.

Shehas never expressed any interest in my numerous academic achievements, my health or feelings, yet complains that I don’t talk to her, or involve her with anything.

When I gave her a ticket to my graduation, she looked blank and responded: ‘Do I have to go That’s my day off’

I have been suicidal several times due to the volatile nature of our relationship, and my deep-seated feeling of unworthiness, and I have had an eating disorder for many years, which I am now slowly recovering from.

I am now on the verge of beginning my own family with my wonderful fiance, and my dad is incredibly pleased for me, and very proud.

But how do I make my mother see that I am worthy of her love and respect I’ve tried to tell her how I feel, but she either dismisses me or becomes furiously angry and accuses me of being a ‘cold-hearted waste of skin’.

I want her to be part of my life, because, despite everything, I love her. How could I not

But I was ten when she last gave me a cuddle, or told me she loved me.

Please, if you have any solutions, I would be so grateful — because I just want her to love me.


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You signed yourself ‘Deeply depressed’ but I have chosen to call you Daisy because I like the name of the resilient, ordinary little flower — traditionally symbolising innocence and gentleness — which springs up in the stoniest places.

Also, the daisy’s name comes from ‘day’s eye’ — the bright yellow centre like the sun to which it turns its face.

So I’m offering this identity to you here as a positive visual image to fix on — preferable to labelling yourself as you have done.

I entirely understand that you feel depressed when you think of how your mother has treated you, wondering what you did to deserve it.

But please don’t accept this as your identity. Not when you have a wonderful fiance, a proud father and the hope of a family of your own. Make that truth the sun at the centre of your life.

Telling me that you do love your mother, you ask rhetorically, ‘how could I not’

Well, I’ll be honest and tell you that (speaking as a devoted mum myself) I can think of dozens of reasons why you shouldn’t love this mother-in-name-only.

She sounds terrible: a ruthless, cruel, self-centred, lazy, dishonest pain-in-the-neck.

It goes without saying that she is a damaged person, with issues which make her thoroughly unhappy, some of which she has passed to you. But please don’t expect me to feel sorry for her.

We can explain away the worst behaviour by examining causes, but at some stage it’s hard to avoid condemnation. My only concern is with you, and how you can triumph over her legacy.

I do wish you had indeed said more in this relatively short email, instead of holding back.

Crucially, you don’t tell me whether your mother and father are still together. If they are, then I would advise talking to your father to see if he can help to make her see that her behaviour to you is appalling.

But I suspect they parted after her affair . . . am I right

Whatever the facts I am convinced that you will not move forward until you stop craving your mother’s love. Maybe she does love you in her way (tell yourself that’s the case, if it helps) but is incapable of being loving — just as somebody blind from birth cannot learn to see.

That is how it is. It will not change. Not now. Pity her if you like, but refuse to be her victim any longer.

So, little Daisy-on-the-stony-ground, what is to be done

This is a good question for a time of year when some people long to be with their families, but others feel obliged to endure tense gatherings which can even (at their worst) cause real heartache.

For many of us, Christmas Day evokes thoughts of those who are no longer there — maybe because of divorce, maybe estrangement, maybe death.

The imaginary empty place at the table can make you very sad.

I’m imagining you, a gentle, wistful young woman — looking for the loving mother you know you deserve but did not get. I wish I could become your Fairy Godmother for the day, creating a magic spell to reassure you that you can, indeed, live happily ever after.


Bel answers readers’ questions on emotional and relationship problems each week.

Write to Bel Mooney, Daily Mail, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT, or e-mail [email protected]

A pseudonym will be used if you wish.

Bel reads all letters but regrets she cannot enter into personal correspondence.

So — perhaps I will! Instead of yearning for what your mother cannot give, I invite you to open your hands and heart to what is possible.

Of course, asking me for ‘solutions’ is like requesting a miracle. But the Christmas story uppermost in my mind today is a direct invitation to believe (hold your breath) in the miraculous.

We think of angels, shepherds, and a baby lying in poor surroundings – familiar from so much sacred art throughout centuries.

What’s more, Mary typifies pure, self-sacrificing motherhood . . . Oh, there is so much to learn from this story, and you do not have to be a practising Christian (or indeed, a Muslim, since it’s important in the Koran) to be moved by the message.

Surely one of the lessons for every one of us is how to listen out for the ‘good tidings of comfort and joy’, even when your own crying threatens to drown them out

The all-important message for you is contained within the tender promises you have exchanged with the wonderful man who loves you. Remember my mantra: always look forward, never look back. Otherwise you will stumble on the road.

Even though you didn’t learn the art of loving at your mother’s knee, you are learning it from others, every day, in a world full of good-hearted people (fairy godmothers and angels in disguise) who will help you — as long as you allow yourself to see them.

That won’t happen if you are still (metaphorically) looking for your mother.

You won’t pick up the good news from the starry sky if you are still hearing her harsh words.

Listen to me instead. All good things will await you (piled up like glittering presents under the tree) as long as you realise that the miracle of hope and love is there inside you — your personal private blessing.


I am a sensible, attractive-looking 60-year-old (former rock chick!) who has been faithfully married for 30 years, with three adult children living away from home.

I have never felt any passion for my husband. I just tolerate him.

He’s always been a binge-alcoholic, only interested in football and TV, and we sleep in separate rooms because of his drinking, which causes family havoc and greatly upsets me.

Recently I struck up a friendship with an older, single guy, sexually experienced, who I’ve fallen for completely. I know he would only ever be my ‘bit on the side’ because of his chaotic lifestyle.

We’ve spent two glorious nights together — such passion I’ve never known with my husband.

My feelings are reciprocated. I’m like a besotted teenager, just so happy to be with him and think of him — though logic tells me it won’t last.

My husband is unaware of what’s happening. I’m so grateful to have had this past six weeks of sexual tenderness and fulfilment. Please advise.


My question to you is: should any self-respecting rock chick (retired) ever describe herself as ‘sensible’

I doubt it. Isn’t there something in us which remains, in the words of Paul Simon’s song, Still Crazy After All These Years

I’m wondering if you expect me to rebuke you for infidelity or to advise you to throw caution to the winds and leave your husband for this man!

You see, examining your letter I don’t find any question for me to ponder — simply a brief description of a fairly complicated but not unusual situation, spiced with plenty of glee because you are having some great rock ’n’ roll action for the first time in your life.

This is not an anguished email (and I get plenty) from a woman who feels guilty or worried — but a hand-written note which crows: ‘At last!’.

It’s almost like a little boast. There will be those who will condemn, but I’m not one.

You and this sexy bloke are consenting adults; he is single; your husband has problems which have obviously driven you away.

My only advice to you is to try not to hurt anybody, including yourself.

It may be that this affair develops into something more — and your lover changes his lifestyle for your sake, leading to a happy life together.

Or it may burn itself out, because it’s ‘too hot not to cool down’ — to quote another song lyric.

Or you may remember how you felt about your husband when you met him, how much you value the opinion of your adult children, and decide you don’t want to risk what you have.

How is anyone to predict

But I reckon you’ll go on enjoying this zinging physical relationship for a while longer, so maybe you should think of it as a gift the universe threw you, quite unexpectedly.

… and finallyMy garish baubles tell a story

Well, here we are again. This morning I picked up the big, fat turkey, and bought too much food. Each year I spend too much on Christmas cards, never mind presents.

I over-decorate the tree —bearing in mind that once upon a time I adorned a 12ft tree in the hall, but now the same ornaments are crammed on to a 7ft sapling.

Tree-mendous: Overdoing it a bit

Tree-mendous: Overdoing it a bit

Two of my favourite words in the language are ‘tinsel’ and ‘bauble’. Minimalism has no place in our house.

Sentiment does. A lover of Dickens, Victoriana, fairy lights, cheesy songs as well as lovely carols, advent calendars (which don’t contain sweets but beautiful images) and cribs, I confess that my sense of Christmas tiptoes towards schmaltz.

But I’m not the only one who feels a frisson of emotion on taking certain ancient decorations out of the box.

There are two pieces of strange, tangled red garland which date back to my grandmother’s house in the Fifties. On the tree they go.

Then there is the yellow plastic star-within-a circle with a broken hook which I wedge over the end of a branch. It came from 24B The Green, Liverpool 13, and we left that flat just before I turned 14.

More recent are the four ‘crackers’ fashioned in the Seventies by my son from loo rolls and shiny red paper — at the same time as the battered star, carefully made from red and gold foil, and the ugly mistletoe holder he and I created from wire coat-hangers wrapped in ribbon. (Thank you, Blue Peter.)

There are other things too, but most hilarious is the doll my small daughter (now 31!) dressed up as a fairy.

She squats atop the tree each year — even though, with fixed blue eyes, yellow hair, and grubby plastic arms, she looks like she’s been around the block more times than any decent fairy would shake a wand at.

You can keep your tasteful designer trees. Garish seasonal fripperies remind me that although family life shifts and changes, memories remain constant. Their jolly message is mine now to you — Happy Christmas!