For a long time, I felt unwanted and like a disappointment to my dad because I was not a boy. Growing up, I was always excited for my birthday, but he would always forget about it, despite it being just 11 days after his own. I never felt acknowledged as someone important. But the biggest blow came when I found out that he had betrayed my mom and was seeing a low-class woman he wanted to replace her with before she died. And to add insult to injury, I found out that he had cheated on my mom while she was in the hospital dying, with me sitting next to her bed and my less than 6-month-old baby left in the care of my husband 400km away.

For a long time, I carried around a lot of anger and resentment towards my dad. I felt like he had let me down in every possible way and had failed as a father. But as time went on, I realized that this mindset was only hurting me. Holding onto these negative emotions was not serving me in any way, and it was time to let them go.

The turning point for me came when I stopped calling him “Dad” in my mind, and then eventually stopped calling him “Dad” in WhatsApp messages. It was a small but significant step towards changing my mindset. By no longer referring to him as “Dad,” I was taking away the power that this title held over me. I was no longer defining my relationship with him based on what I thought a “Dad” should be, but rather on who he was as a person.

I vividly remember him asking me why I don’t call him “Dad” anymore. At that moment, I felt nothing. It was as if I had detached myself from the emotional weight that this word had carried for so long.

Rather than viewing my father solely as my DAD, I came to see him as a flawed individual who had concealed his authentic self from everyone, even himself. He was someone who had never experienced being alone and perhaps rushed into a relationship with my mother shortly after his previous engagement ended.

Changing my mindset about my dad has helped me to let go of the pain and hurt that I once carried with me – for the most part. I may never fully understand why he made the choices that he did, but I have come to accept that they were his choices to make.

In the end, changing my mindset about my dad has not only helped me to heal but has also given me a new perspective on life. It has taught me that sometimes we need to let go of our preconceived notions and definitions of people in order to truly see them for who they are. And that by doing so, we can find the peace and healing that we need to move forward.


Susann is a travel, parenting, beauty and lifestyle blogger in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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