Man strives to put mother’s lies behind him

Published 3:49 pm Thursday, November 16, 2023

DEAR ABBY: I was born 40 years ago and raised by my mother to believe that her husband was my birth father. She divorced him and raised me while receiving court-awarded child support, based on her insistence to all involved that she had not had an affair. As the years went on, it became increasingly evident this wasn’t true, so I took a genetic test. The result came back with a 99% likelihood that I had a different father. I soon made contact with the brother of the man I believed to be my birth father. He had personal knowledge of the affair and did a confirmational genetic test to show his genetic relationship to me. 

 My mother continues to insist on what is now certainly a lie, perhaps to save face with me and others, and to avoid perjury charges and support repayments that might follow. I have not had contact with her for many years and changed my last name to my biological father’s. He was a loving father figure to me in secret and is now deceased.

 My problem is, I cannot find closure for all of my mother’s countless lies and denials. She gaslighted me into feeling I was deranged while she cultivated a popular public face as a reporter and patron of the arts in our small town. I want to be able to reconcile with my past so I can be a better father to my own kids and be able to trust my loved ones fully. I feel weak as a person, and I don’t want to pass that on to my kids. Please advise. — TRUE SELF IN CANADA

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DEAR TRUE SELF: You are not a “weak” man. You are an intelligent person who was fed a pack of lies for decades. Yet you managed to get to the truth in spite of that. Your mother has lied because she is afraid she will lose standing in the community, and she is probably right about that. It would benefit you to discuss your family history with a licensed mental health professional. If you do, it will help to sort all this out more quickly than if you try to work through it on your own.


 DEAR ABBY: I am torn between my and my husband’s desire to move and my obligation to my family. We decided to explore moving out of state because of the climate. Where we currently live is very dry and hot in the summer, and wildfires often cause smoky skies for weeks. We can hardly go outside in the summer.

 My widowed mother lives close by and knows how much we struggle in the summer, but she’s in her 60s and healthy. (She doesn’t need to be taken care of yet.) Now that we’ve chosen a place to move a few states away, she has convinced my grandmother, who lives out of state and recently went into independent living, to move close to all of us. I’m torn between moving somewhere I feel my quality of life would improve and staying close to my grandmother, who I’ve never lived near before. How do I make this decision? — MAKING A DECISION IN COLORADO

DEAR MAKING A DECISION: Decide rationally. If you opt to make the move — which would be understandable — discuss it with your mother. Although her health is strong now, she and your grandmother may be open to the idea of relocating to YOUR new city so you can all be together.


Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.


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