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
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.