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by Abigail Van Buren

Family Secrets Eat Away at Man's Sense of Self

DEAR ABBY: I'm a 61-year-old man. When I was 40, I was told by my sister that Dad had confided that our mom -- who had recently passed -- had been married before. We were both floored that it was a secret all those years and that, with a family of 12 aunts and uncles and countless cousins, no one ever spilled the beans.

About a year ago, I asked an older cousin on Facebook why no one had ever mentioned it. He said his mom told him not to, AND that my oldest sister, also deceased, wasn't my dad's daughter. Dad is gone now, and I only have my cousin's word to go by.

Almost all of the relatives are dead, and the only living uncle was younger than my mom. He's in his 80s now and doesn't remember anything like that. I can't help but wonder what other parts of my life were a "lie." I have suffered from depression for years and this certainly doesn't help. Any thoughts? -- JUMBLED IN TEXAS

DEAR JUMBLED: I'm glad you asked because I do have some to offer. None of the parts of your life have been a "lie." Certain parts of your parents' lives were obfuscated, most likely because they weren't proud of them. In your parents' generation, divorce was less common than it has been in more recent decades. But they are dead and gone now. It is time to forgive them for their lapses and concentrate on your own life. A step in the right direction would be to schedule some time with a licensed psychotherapist to talk about your depression.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Mental Health | Self Worth