June 27, 2014 - submitted by Sheena, Philippines

Yesterday was my birthday, and I found out that my estranged dad was undergoing a bypass operation. I don't celebrate my birthdays because my dad was never there. I grew up kind of hating him. But now, I just don't know what to feel. I still care about him, despite him being not much of a father to me. Yet, I still remember how he made my mom cry all these years, and the side of me that hates him just resurfaces. And I know that's wrong. What to do?

The Oracle replies:

Happy belated birthday, Sheena. It's completely understandable why you have these feelings towards your Dad. He may be your Dad biologically but he certainly hasn't been a father to you.
I'm sure it wasn't easy watching your Mum suffer but you also had issues to deal with so don't ignore your feelings. I do think it would help you to talk to someone outside of the family - a counsellor perhaps. You're obviously holding on to a lot of negativity and maybe now is time to let go and be in a position where your birthday becomes a celebration of your life rather than an unwanted reminder of who gave that life to you.
You don't owe your dad anything but if you feel you should be there for him, do it IF that feels right for you.
There are many options moving forward. Forgiving him but having no contact, being there during this time of sickness or to continue as you are. It's up to you. You can't change what happened but you can change how you deal with it.
Over to you.

Hey there Sheena , I know what it feels like to hate someone you love. But at the end of the day, your dad is still family. And we stick to the end for family , because no matter what , we don't give up on family.

Sheena I think in this situation you have to put yourself first. How would you feel if the worst happened and you didn't get another chance to speak to your father? If you have unanswered questions or things left unsaid then now is a good opportunity to clear the air. You may worry about upsetting your Mother but remember the breakdown in their relationship was not your fault, maybe tell her first if you can. But go with your instincts and if you feel you would gain from making contact with your father then take a deep breath and go for it.
Best of luck with whatever you decide.
Tanya UK.

When it comes to how we feel toward those in our family, I find it goes both ways. For example, when someone makes a stupid mistake or just feels terrible for some reason, the family is often the only people who will love them unconditionally anyway. At the same time, it is often harder to get over feelings toward family members who have hurt you or others in your family than if it was someone you know outside of your family. So I understand you when you say that you care for your father but that it is hard to get over the old feelings toward him. If you find it too hard to get over those feelings, try looking at him as a person who just underwent bypass surgery and needs support for that, and not as the father who hurt you and your family. A short phone call just to make sure he made it through the operation ok can mean a lot to him without either of you having to confront past actions. Gavin.

Sheena, go see your father before/after his bypass surgery. He may have not always been there for you, but you can be there for him. Don't fight fire with fire or you might burn your relationship down. No one ever truly won by getting revenge. You can be a light in this dark world to him. Life is just too short to harbor hatred Sheena. It won't be the easiest thing to do, but it will be the most rewarding. Who knows? Maybe the relationship between you and your father will become stronger. You have much to gain by going and seeing him and you also have little to lose if you don't. Hope this helps! Nicholas.

I see you feel very hurt from your father and it's hard to forgive or to understand. But it is easy for us to judge other people based just on what we see from outside. You saw sad things that made you hate him, but you you cannot see what he has been passing through, or why was he never there. Maybe there is more than you actually know and it would be good to give him a chance to talk to you. Sometimes listening to the other side can be really surprising and changing. Don't let this chance go, maybe you did not have good memories about him, but you could start new ones after this moment. Wish you all the best! Mariana, Brazil.

First of all, Happy Birthday! Please don't let another year pass by without sitting down with your father and telling him exactly how you feel. The anger and resentment you are holding onto against him is doing much more damage to you, physically and psychologically, in the long term. (Let's not forget, not celebrating your own birthday!) Once you are able to tell your father everything you want to say, I'm guessing you will feel as if the weight of the world has been lifted from your shoulders. You will know in your heart if he is truly remorseful for his actions and willing to change. If so, maybe there is the possibility of your forgiveness? We are all capable of change and deserving of forgiveness.
There is always the possibility of a redefined father/daughter relationship that you never imagined. But, if he has not grown as a person or is stuck in his old habits, then you will have to accept the gift of forgiveness that you are giving YOURSELF and keep it moving. The Buddha once said that holding onto anger is like holding a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned. Some people cannot keep themselves from their toxic behavior(s) and we have to choose to love them from a distance, even if they are family. Either way, talk with your father and get whatever support you need around you to deal with the situation. Best of luck! Holley

Don't feel bad about hating your dad. You are conscious about it, and that matters a lot. It's not your fault for the things that happened to you or to your family. Maybe your father also feels bad about the situation. Even if he seems not to, I'm sure he just wasn't conscious enough to realize that you and your mother would suffer that much. And no matter what kind of things you feel towards him remember it's no one's fault, because sometimes the events throughout life just happen without anyone being able to control them.
If you look to the past you'll see things that happened and not you or anyone can change, but if you look to the present, you'll eventually be able to find a way to change things, to make everyone feel better, because everyone suffers, and since you and your mother suffer because of him, you probably never thought that your father might suffer too. Maybe you should talk to your dad and explain how you feel without letting the hate come to your words. It might be difficult to think about facing him but if you feel it's the best thing you can do, then do it and you'll see that it won't be that hard. After all he's your father and even if he acts like a cold person, he's human and every human has a heart, just like yours.
From someone who was in a similar situation, Cris, Portugal.

I'm sorry to hear you heard such sad news on your birthday. Nevertheless, I hope you had a great day and your father's operation went successfully. It seems only natural to hear of your bad feelings towards your dad that sometimes crop up, so don't be too hard on yourself, just begin to focus on how you cope with those feelings and how you want your relationship to pan out in the future. Remembering what's happened in the past will be easy, but coming to create a new future between you and your dad will seem really hard, but it's kind of essential. Ignore him and you'll feel like a bad daughter. Smother him and you'll feel like the past doesn't matter.

Finding the ground between the two extremes has to be essentially found by you, judging the dynamics of your own relationship. Forgiving your father for the past might seem almost impossible, but it might just ease your load and help begin to reconcile you both. He might not have been much of a father to you, but you have the chance to show that you are his daughter and to show love to him. No matter what someone has done, showing love to them will never hurt either of you.
Happy Birthday for yesterday, Tom.

Sheena, you with your father are going through tough times. No matter what kind of pain was caused, no matter how tall walls you built: everything fades at the moment when you realize that you can lose him. This is the most evidential thing to feel. If you really are worried about him, everything's not lost. You both deserve a happiness. Make a step towards him, and you will know the answer for sure: you are needed as strongly as he is needed to you. You don't have to be brave enough to cross out some person from your life. But you need to be as brave as possible to confess that nothing can push you to deny the person you love. As they say, you love not for a reason, you love against the reason. Step forward, and smile from the step in answer. Andy.

Sheena, please don't ever let your dad determine your happiness. We as individuals determine our own happiness. You can choose to let your father's absence make you unhappy, or you can choose to be happy regardless of the circumstances. You should never allow him to steal your happiness because you deserve to be happy regardless of him. Celebrate your birthday! You have so much to be joyful about, so why let that all drain away because one person won't be there for you? You're worth more than that.
I'm also in a very similar situation with my dad. My dad is very unhealthy (emotionally and mentally), and thus he's never really been there for my family. Yes he comes to birthdays and such, but he's not there when we really need him (emotionally). He's caused my family so much grief, and as a result none of us really like him. I have feelings of resentment towards him, and I can understand how you do, too. It's ok to feel that way; he's hurt you. It's human nature to feel pain and resentment when someone hurts us. However, for both of us, it's up to us to move past the pain and choose how we will react to it. Both of us have so much life to live, so why waste it feeling hurt and not allowing ourselves to be happy amongst the pain?
It's ok to still care about him, you should. Just don't let him steal your happiness. Brooke.

Sheena, Your birthday is a celebration of you! You are not defined by your father, his mistakes, or his problems. The best gift you could give yourself is to realize that you are the most important person in your world. Allow yourself your feelings, with no judgment, but do not be controlled by them. You are a caring wondrous human being so of course you "still care about him". We all have our paths to walk in life your direction and your destiny belongs to you alone.
The empathy that you have expressed for both of your parents shows the warmth of your heart, show yourself the same kindness and boldly set your bounadries. Though you may feel a bit wounded you are not broken, or bent, you are Whole! Celebrate life, celebrate Sheena, and let the world see you shine. You are here to do great things.
Be Well-Be Blessed-Be Yourself (everyone else is already taken).
Cheers to you, Dani USA.

I understand that the rejection your father has shown you has been painful, and often people live with resentment for long periods.
While this is understandable, it is not helpful in the healing process.
In order to heal you must move past the anger and resentment. You need to learn to forgive. If for no one else other than yourself...learn to forgive and let go. I believe it is the only way for a person to have peace in their life.
There is nothing you can do about what is in the past and you have no control over his actions.
However, you can move forward and create a better life for yourself in the future. You do have control over your thoughts and actions and those are powerful.
Don't dwell in anger over what other people have done or said. Try to focus more on who you are and the person you want to become.
Whether positive or negative, which ever thoughts you feed will grow.
Finally... don't let what someone did to you (and your mother) in the past, prevent you from having a bright future. Celebrate your birthday. Celebrate your life with hope and belief that it can and will get better.
Be well. Dawn

First off your feelings are not wrong they are yours, you have years of anger and resentment toward your father. Now you are perplexed as to whether to reach out to him. I wonder if this is to please a relative or perhaps you feel a sense of duty or obligation? I would suggest if you do reach out to him keep it light and not too personal and make it clear you are not reopening the lines of communication, but merely wanted to wish him a speedy recovery. Maybe one day you can address all your issues with him, but be cautious. Don't let him off the hook for what he did to you, you deserved better. It is sad that you don't have a relationship with him but that is not your fault is it? So don't feel guilty and do what your heart says you should. Best of luck! Name withheld.

Sheena, although the things that happen in the past can remain with us, there comes a time when freedom is more desirable than the bondage of hanging on to what is already done. When I was a Hospice nurse, working with people who were terminally ill, the most common thing I encountered was feelings of regret. Families who had "unfinished business" left unsaid had the most difficult time moving on with their lives. Forgiveness is everything. To forgive is not to enable or agree with another's actions. Forgiveness is about setting yourself free. Sometimes, we need to let go of one story in order to create a new one. We can never really know what drives people to do what they do. Your father did things that were hurtful. Hating him will only create toxicity within you. Hate does more harm to the person hating than the person hated. You now have the power to choose the path you're going to create. Choose Love - it's all that really matters. Alia, USA.

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