Lives Forever Changed: People’s Darkest Family Secrets Revealed

Most families seem normal on the surface, but no one is ever exactly as they appear. From mistresses to secret kids, some families out there carry around some serious demons that they definitely don’t want others to find out about. Nevertheless, we lucky people on the internet get to hear about them anyway!

1. Glass Half Empty

I’m my family’s big secret! I’m adopted and at some point, I managed to find my biological father. He begged me not to reach out to any of my half-siblings as it would “ruin his life and standing in the community.” But that’s not even the worst part. I’m actually not even his first secret child. I have an older half-sister that he also begged not to reach out to the family.

So that’s two kids he’s had because he cheated on his wife. I can only imagine how often he actually cheats on whoever woman he’s with. My half-sister and I refer to 23andMe as “23andMark,” because who knows how many more kids he might have out there. I’m pretty sure he’s been terrified since at-home DNA kits became a thing.

When I tell this story, people usually ask me why I don’t tell his wife. I just tell them I don’t need to. She already knew about my half-sister, and now me, because she answered his phone when I first called asking questions and promptly told me to leave her family the heck alone. Also, screw him for asking me to stay quiet.

But at the same time, I don’t plan to blow up his life or reach out to my half-siblings. In fact, it is largely because of my half-siblings that I haven’t done anything. I did not sign up to be a wrecking ball or to destroy a family. Imagine finding out that everything you thought you knew about your dad was a lie in the worst way possible. I know I’d be devastated.

I may not have met them but they are still my half-siblings and I do care about them on some level. They are just as innocent in all this as I am, so I don’t want to be the one to hurt them like that. I really hope that he will just realize one day that he can’t keep a secret like this forever and that he will have to come clean to them himself.

Then there’s the question of why I don’t just mail his kids DNA testing kits anonymously. Realistically, it’s only a matter of time before one of them gets curious and does it on their own or gets gifted one from an unwitting family member or friend. Believe it or not, some people even ask me why I don’t just blackmail or demand money from the guy.

He’s a terrible person, so he should pay for what he did, right? The answer to that is pretty simple. That’s just not the kind of person I am. I don’t want his money, and I never have. I go to bed every night with a clear conscience, which is more than I can say for him. And that’s worth a lot more to me than anything that money could possibly buy in my opinion.

I have a roof over my head, a husband who loves me, a beautiful daughter, a great dad, and two new half-siblings that I adore from a distance. From my perspective, I’m already rich.

2. Truth Or Dare

My cousins lived with us for a while and we thought that was fun because it was like getting to have a sleepover every day. One time, our mom even took us out of school to pick them up. I learned later that it was because Child Protective Services had taken my cousins away from their mom due to her mental health issues. My mom offered to take her sister’s kids in until she got her mental health back in order.

My cousins live with their mom now and she is in a much better state mentally.


3. Blatant Exploitation

My grandma retired, but she still decided to continue to work for her brother in his restaurant. She wanted to save up money for when she passes since funerals are, obviously, very expensive. She didn’t want to burden any of us with that kind of expense. She insisted that he hold onto her paychecks and pay for her funeral when her time came. He never did.


4. Teaching Everyone A Lesson

My father got my mother pregnant when he was her teacher back in high school. He was thirty years old at the time and married to someone else. But that’s not even the worst part…My mom was sixteen and his student. They ended up running away together—he got a divorce from his wife and they got married in a state that allowed marriage at the age of 16. This was just two months before my older brother was born.


5. Pied In The Face

My family’s dark secret that I recently discovered is that my grandma’s top-secret pie crust was actually just Marie Calender’s pie crust from the grocery store, set in a fancier dish. She messed with her daughters-in-law for years over it. I still love that pie crust just as much as I ever did and I look forward to eating it whenever I can, but still…That was a shocking thing to find out about.


6. On The Waterfront

My dad’s uncle lost his life in a boating accident with his cousins. My family eventually let me know that it might not have been an accident after all. Apparently, they believe he was drowned intentionally in the middle of the lake by his cousins because of some money issues that he had with them. No one was ever prosecuted though, and the family is still very close. Weird.

Needless to say, this is a very deeply kept secret that almost nobody knows about.


7. A Cult Following

My family’s dark and creepy secret involves my dad. As a kid, I just assumed everything my parents did was the norm…but my dad was far from normal. He was an active member of a full-fledged doomsday cult. Basically, they would predict the end of the world, then turn around to say, “Wow, your prayers just stopped the apocalypse from happening!”

It wasn’t overtly malicious or anything as far as I can tell. Like, if my mom hadn’t told me what went on behind the scenes and I hadn’t gone digging myself, I would have found nothing wrong with it. I was kind of mind-blown when I was first old enough to realize what was actually going on. The world is a pretty weird and messed up place.


8. A New Roommate

Apparently, grandma didn’t decide to move in with us because she loved us so much and wanted to spend more time with us. Grandma moved in for a much darker reason—because her son was doing substances and he convinced her to put his name on the house. He then took her money out “for renovations,” leaving her homeless. She had a heart attack the night she found out and she now has to live with a pacemaker.

Screw you, Uncle Roy.


9. Just Passing Through

My cousins used to stay with us a lot. I remember my male cousin was just a small baby when he first came to us. He would scream and scream all night, and my mom put him in my room, so I used to spend the night cuddling with him or playing peekaboo. My other cousin was my age at the time. That was all there was to it when I was five years old.

But later on, I found out that my auntie had been a major substance user and that she even sold her body on the streets. My cousins were the result of her interaction with clients, and my male cousin, in particular, was actually born whilst my auntie was heavily using. As a result, he was going through withdrawal after his birth. My grandparents ended up flying in from Wales to take custody of them, and they also put my auntie on a plane so she could go off on her own.

It was one of the saddest days of my life that I never understood. I thought they were going to be my brother and sister and I wasn’t sure why all of a sudden they were taken from me. Now that I’m grown up, I understand what was really going on. Thankfully, my auntie has since made it out of that life. She prefers to be alone and doesn’t have anything really to do with the family anymore.

She still lives in the same little Welsh village as my grandparents. The whole situation was swept under the rug so much that I thought I was being dramatic or exaggerating some of the memories in my head. Talking to people about it now and making sense of the situation after so long is very validating, and I am thankful for that.


10. The Real Reason

Growing up, my parents always led me to believe that my grandfather on my mother’s side had passed away due to a heart attack. Many years later, they revealed that he had actually shot himself in the head.


11. A Sad Ending Indeed

My cousin is very serious about his genealogy hobby. He finds relatives we didn’t know existed and jets out to meet them, exchanging stories, tintypes, and the like. Back in 2007, he was visiting such relatives in Iowa and discovered that our ancestor had taken his own life by cutting his throat with a pocket-knife while onboard a Union Pacific train, about six miles west of Kearney, Nebraska.

I have a transcribed account of the December 1881 newspaper story, which was unnervingly detailed. The headline reads, ‘THE SAD ENDING OF JIM HARRIS.’ It is a very spooky, interesting read. It’s so creepy knowing that this happened; that it was publicized enough to make the newspapers at the time and that it was dark enough of a secret for none of our immediate family members to have even known about it.


12. Tree Huggers

To put it shortly, my family’s dark hidden secret is that our family tree is more like a very long branch. As in, everyone is married to their cousins. And yes, we have the genetic defects to prove it.


13. An Unholy Association

My family’s big secret is that my uncle was accused of taking the lives of two Australian officers in their line of duty back in the late 1980s. It was a pretty widely publicized case here in Australia. I’ve never met this uncle and I don’t believe I ever will, but most people who were around back then are familiar with the case and my uncle’s name.

Needless to say, we don’t exactly go around telling everyone we meet that we’re related to him.


14. The House That Disowning Built

My grandma legally disowned my mother for marrying my dad. The family house was supposed to go to my mom, but after the disowning, my grandma didn’t say who she wanted the house to go to, resulting in a decades-long family feud that has split the family even to this day. The sad thing is that my parents actually ended up divorced after twenty years of marriage.

My mom took care of my grandma until the very end and was even the one who handled the funeral arrangements when she passed two years ago. She never asked for the house back, but that’s not even the craziest part—in actuality, it’s worth millions. Nobody told me any of this until I was thirty years old. I had no idea that my family was ever anything but a typical, happy family.


15. A Bad Man

My family’s dark secret is that my step-grandfather took advantage of my three aunties, my eldest sister, and possibly my other sister and cousin. I only found out when my Nana was on the verge of passing away eleven years after he was already gone. They are buried side by side and I cannot bring myself to go visit my Nana, because he is there also.

Some have suggested that I visit my Nana and just ignore him. I will try, but it won’t be easy. For those saying my Nana had to have known, I have discussed this at length with my aunty and we are both certain that she didn’t. She worked nights for many, many years, and my aunties all have told each other that they would never have told her in order to protect her.


16. Guess Who’s Moving In

I recently found out the real reason why I had a “live-in babysitter” when I was about five. She moved in one night at 2 a.m. Apparently, it was because my mom’s cousin had taken the lives of children and we ended up harboring his daughter during the trial. He’s the only person who has been sentenced for execution in my entire county.


17. A Lot To Take In

My family has too many secrets to count, but these are a few of the ones I can tell. 1) My grandfather set free six guys that ended up attacking and taking advantage of my cousin. Of course, she now hates him for it. 2) My aunt got pregnant at the age of fifteen with a 26-year-old man. Her parents kicked her out when they found out, and she married the guy.

3) My dad tried to take my mother’s life while she was pregnant and he really made her life miserable on a daily basis. 4) My aunt left my mom in a park-like a dog when she was thirteen years old, without any money or food. Eventually, someone found her and brought her home. 5) My grandparents hate me because I was the product of a non-consensual relationship. Plus, I’m brown.

6) My grandfather used to give awful punishments to his kids, including once almost chopping my cousin’s head off with an ax. 7) My mom was born during a time of unrest in my country, and almost all of her siblings have taken at least one person’s life in combat. Most of them were child soldiers. 8) My uncle lost his life at the hands of American soldiers during a battle. They never found his body.

9) My oldest cousin’s dad passed away in a weird “drowning accident” when they were fishing at night. They claim that a crocodile ate him. 10) When my mom was eight years old, my grandfather hit my grandmother so hard that she had a “loss of memories” for about three months. We don’t know what actually happened. I can keep going for hours, but these are the ones that I’m comfortable sharing publicly.


18. Now You Know

This is not a secret that I was let in on, so much as one that I found out by accident. Either way, apparently my dad’s got into a serious car crash with his first girlfriend when he was 25 and she ended up losing her life in the incident. My dad lived with her father for years after her passing. Her father still occasionally comes to visit us, even 30 years later.

We were always told that he was a mentor until my sister finally pressed my mom on the subject. We then discovered that one of my sisters is even named after the girl that passed. Her middle name was the girl’s first name. We never even knew about her until last year. None of us have ever brought it up with him.


19. Parental Musical Chairs

My family’s dark secret is that my cousin is actually my half-brother. My mom got pregnant in college and my aunt and uncle decided to adopt the kid. Oh, and our other secret is that my dad isn’t my biological father. My mom and dad got divorced, and she got impregnated by another man since my dad wasn’t able to have kids of his own. Eventually, they got remarried and he raised me as his own.


20. Within An Inch Of His Life

My great-grandpa was a soldier opposing the Axis powers. He and his squad were caught by Italian fighters and given the penalty of losing their lives at the hands of a firing squad. They would all be shot together. At the time of the execution, all of his mates lost their lives in front of his eyes, but he survived—and the reason is quite mindblowing.

Apparently, the soldier in charge of the firing missed the shot when it came to his turn. Without skipping a beat, he faked his own demise by, well, lying on top of his deceased friends’ bodies and pretending to have been hit. Surprisingly, it worked and he got to escape.


21. What Will They Think Of Next?

When my grandfather passed, he wrote his will on his deathbed. He left his entire estate to my family, which was an enormous sum. His wife, however, who despised us, pulled the biggest screw-you move that I have ever seen—she wrote a directly conflicting will and forged his signature on it. This fake will left his entire estate to her family, none of whom I’ve ever met.

Then she took her own life. It took around five years of a lawyer-heavy nightmare to sort that whole situation out. We eventually did win the case in the end, but it cost so much that we couldn’t afford to keep his $3-million house anymore. I will forever despise that woman for what she did. There is absolutely no excuse for doing something that low.


22. Cave Diving

My grandparents spent some time in lockup after my grandpa took the life of their newborn baby in a shellshock-induced frenzy. They were put behind bars because they buried her body in a cave and tried to hide it. My mom and her siblings were all adopted out of that family at a very young age, and went back to their parents around eleven years or so later.

I knew about that history growing up, but I didn’t know the real reason for it until I was much older.


23. A Terrible Status Quo

My family’s dark and creepy secret is that my grandpa has taken advantage of all of the women in our family, not just me. And, apparently, they all just let it happen because “That’s just what you do.” Words cannot begin to describe how messed up this situation is, but everyone in my family just seems to be okay with it other than me.


24. Decking The Halls

Not very much a secret, but took me until I was older to understand what was happening. My mom would sometimes have us play a game called “soldiers,” which consisted of me, my mom, and my siblings crawling around our apartment as if we were soldiers hiding in trenches. It was kind of a hide-and-seek style game. She would yell “hit the deck!” randomly, and we would all drop and find a hiding spot.

We would giggle and giggle while my mom crawled around on the ground, looking for us. We loved the game so much. I realized a few years ago while retelling the story that there was a chilling secret behind the game we were playing. In reality, it was not a game at all—we lived in a really terrible neighborhood, and she would yell it out whenever she heard shots being fired outside the building. I’m assuming she was worried about stray bullets.

When I realized what had been going on, I shared my appreciation with my mom, and she shed a tear. She feels very appreciated!


25. Gone Too Soon

When I was about ten years old, my cousin and his dad passed away. I always thought it was an accident and that it occurred on the same day. When I was old enough, I was told that his dad actually took his own life, and my cousin followed him a couple of months later. It truly devastated me to learn about this; though I didn’t know either of them too well.

My grief is still there, even all these years after finding out the truth. I understand now that with professional help, both of them would likely still be here today. It just wasn’t common to seek help back then. I hope all of you out there are well. Please don’t be afraid to seek help if something is wrong. Nothing is worth losing your life over.


26. Sister Act

My dad’s sister had a secret daughter who would have been approximately my dad’s age. She was 16 years older than him, and the family didn’t tell him until he was in college. In their small town, this means there is a non-zero chance he unknowingly could have dated his own niece. For the record, my dad was about three or four years old when everything first happened.

He remembers a lot of shouting at the time but he was not aware of the topic. Also, he is definitely not the baby in question.


27. Looks Can Be Deceiving

My uncle used to miss a ton of birthday parties, family reunions, holiday dinners, and other such events when I was a kid. Turns out, the real reason wasn’t because of his “really busy job,” but something much, much darker. Rather, it was because he had become a serious substance addict after his wife took off with their daughter. The kicker to that whole situation? That daughter ended up being my cousin who I’ve still never met.

Oh yeah, he also tried to stab his sister in a substance-fueled rage when she went off on him about being a bum and exploiting my grandparents’ kindness. My grandpa stopped him but got beaten to the point of unconsciousness in the process. My grandparents’ neighbor heard the commotion and had to rush in and stop him at gunpoint. I legit thought he was just a normal, nice guy who I happened to rarely see before I learned all this stuff in one night.


28. A Time Everyone Would Rather Forget

My step-grandfather has always had a serious drinking problem. As a child, he even taught me how to mix his favorite drink. As a kid at the age of about six years old, I would mix his drink as he liked it and bring it to him in the living room. Don’t ask what the drink was a mix of, ’cause I literally can’t remember. And then, as you’d expect, my grandpa always acted “funny” after he drank it.

I always liked spending time with him because I found him so funny. I never saw the bad side of his drinking, and he never made me drink with him or anything like that, so he didn’t have a negative impact on me at all. But before I was born, there were times where he apparently got so intoxicated he almost took my grandma’s life.

One time, he got into a car accident and came home, bleeding badly from his head. He started saying that my grandma shot him. He even threw out some of the wedding pictures my parents had. I never knew how horrible he was before that moment. I guess I was older when I witnessed that happen—he definitely toned his behavior down when I was little.

He would make me cocoa, watch Garfield with me, and everything, so it was so weird to me when I found out these things about him. Before he passed, though, he really regretted drinking. He even completely stopped at one point. He became really depressed until his biological granddaughter was born.

He was so happy about his granddaughter. He passed away, regretting basically everything. By that point, he was a sober man who was just happy to have been able to meet his one and only biological granddaughter. Regardless of everything, he really changed in the end and everyone was really upset when we lost him.


29. Run For Your Life

My family’s secret is that my aunt started the communist party in her country. It got quite large, and her children eventually had to flee the country. To this day, I still don’t know what happened to her. And there’s a reason that I didn’t list the country by name. It’s such a small country that everyone could immediately look it up and find out who she is if I did so.


30. Fiscal Responsibility

When I was young, I thought it was really nice that my nanna lived with my aunt and her family since she was getting on a bit and it meant she was always being looked after. My aunt has six kids, so the house was never a lonely place. Occasionally, my aunt would gripe about being the one looking after nanna, since she is also one of many kids and her siblings didn’t really help out.

Being young, I sympathized, but given that they all spent loads of time with nanna too, I didn’t think it was a big deal. You don’t think about financial responsibility when you’re young, I think. Well, it turns out there was a lot more to the story than I had ever realized when I was a kid…and let’s just say the truth wasn’t pretty.

Turns out, the real reason why my nanna lived with my aunt is that my aunt and her husband convinced her to put the house in their name so they could “look after her affairs.” They then sold it out from under her and invested the money in a pyramid scheme, so it’s all gone now. Because of this, her siblings refuse to give my aunt a penny towards looking after my nanna, since it’s her own fault that our nanna has no money or assets.

Instead, the other siblings pay to take my nanna out all the time, including for meals, shopping, and activities. But they let my aunt struggle under the weight of my nanna’s general living expenses. My aunt’s kids are all independent now, so they are not going to be impacted by money problems.

Now, I look back at her griping with annoyance and realize what a terrible person she is.


31. An Affair To Remember

My family’s secret is that my grandmother ran off and had an affair. She then got pregnant, came back to my grandfather, and they raised the baby girl together. My father and his siblings didn’t find out until they were older. I’m not sure if my aunt knew the truth about her own origins before she passed away. It’s also rumored that there’s another half-sibling somewhere out there, so my grandad seemed to be having an affair as well. Apparently, it was just affairs all-around back in the day!


32. Changing Their Mind At The Last Minute

My family’s secret is that my parents were not going to go through with the pregnancy when they were expecting me, but my dad’s friend stopped him from doing so. My dad named me after his friend, and I have a great relationship with my parents now.


33. I Guess That’s One Way Out…

My family’s secret is that my grandfather got out of serving in Vietnam by robbing pharmacies and getting thrown behind bars for a few years.


34. Extremely Disturbing

My grandfather, who was my mother’s step-father, took advantage of my mother when she was six. He also repeatedly attacked her older sister. My grandmother knew about it and kicked him out, but only for a short while. Then, after some time, she took him back in and kicked out her 14-year-old daughter, i.e. my mom’s older sister. She sent her to live with her stepmother and biological father, knowing full well that her stepmother beat the heck out of her on a regular basis.

My mother told me when I was an adult and complained about how my grandma was discriminatory because she never let me go fishing with my grandpa and always let my brother go. Turns out, it was so much darker than just plain-old favoritism—she knew he had a thing for little girls, so she tried to make sure my sister and I were never alone with him. Thankfully, neither my sister nor I were taken advantage of by him.

I also realized in my 30s, after a decade of therapy and different meds, that my mother was severely intentionally harmful towards me. She found out that I was being mistreated by my older brother and made it a point to leave me alone with him as often as possible. She would wait until he was done and then make me give her a back rub while she was naked. She and my aunt both swear they’re not messed up and they still hang out with my grandma and grandpa. I don’t really talk with that side of the family anymore.


35. An Accident Within An Accident

My grandfather took his youngest brother’s life to get out of going to Vietnam. He, his brother, and two of their friends had their numbers called in the draft for Vietnam. They didn’t want to go, obviously, but they didn’t come from money and they all worked to support their families. If they got taken behind bars for failing to serve, they’d lose their jobs and their families would lose their income.

So they decided on a different plan to get out of going. They would drive to get their medical checks together and, on the way there, they would crash the car into a tree. The plan was to get too injured to get sent to serve, but not so injured as to be permanently crippled. And it had to look like an accident so that nobody got in trouble.

This was in rural Western Australia, so they were all going to say they swerved to miss a kangaroo, then hit the tree in the process. My grandfather was driving with his friend in the passenger seat, and the other two were in the back. His brother was behind the passenger seat. They hit the tree doing about 40 kilometers per hour…more than enough to be serious.

A broken leg for my grandfather, a broken arm for the guy behind him, and broken ribs all around. They definitely weren’t going to fight. But there was a huge problem they didn’t anticipate—they weren’t wearing seatbelts. Their plan seemed solid enough, except they didn’t consider the risk of getting internal injuries or possibly dying from the feat.

Tragically, my grandfather’s brother bled to his demise from a ruptured spleen in the back seat. He was gone before they could get him to a hospital. My grandfather never forgave himself for what he did, and he never talked about it. My grandma was the only one he ever told, as far as we know, and she didn’t tell my mother and me until long after his passing.

We found a small box in their bedroom when we were cleaning out the house after she passed last year. It had a clipping from the local newspaper at the time about the accident. It said that they had swerved to miss a roo, and the headline called it a tragedy. I don’t think my mother told any of her siblings, so technically this is still the family secret. I guess now you’re all in on it too.


36. You Know What He’s Going Through

My uncle was attacked as a young boy. My grandparents not only didn’t believe him, but they beat him and disowned him for “bringing such lies” into their house. The sad thing is that I was attacked as a kid too; and while dealing with that, my dad told me what had happened to my uncle. I assume he told me about it so I wouldn’t feel so alone.

My uncle is still the only one I know personally who has experienced the same trauma as me, and I’m not meant to know so can’t talk to him about it. I’ve gotten the urge to just spill the beans to him so we can talk about it openly; however, I don’t feel comfortable bringing up someone else’s trauma. In particular, I’m not going to make my dad look bad by letting my uncle know he told me his secret.

If I knew someone I trusted had been telling other people about what had happened to me, I’d be very hurt by that, so I’m not going to put my dad or my uncle in that situation. I’m thankful to everyone who has tried to help me, and I’m not alone now. I have people I can talk to, which is nice. I’m even going to be starting a group thing at therapy where I’ll be able to speak to other victims. I think that will help too.


37. True Colors

This is quite literally a “dark” family secret. When I was a white, blond-haired, blue-eyed little kid at the age of six, I found out that my biological dad is actually black. For whatever foolish reason, that was a problem in the eyes of my relatives, so my mom kept it a secret from them. Funnily enough, my best friend at the time was whiter than me with blond hair and blue eyes also, and she too found out that she had a black biological dad.


38. Self-Inflicted Wound

My grandmother’s first husband was extremely abusive, but this was the 1960s and he hid it well. She couldn’t file for divorce without proof of injury, so she beat herself in the face with a slipper to get away. She was only 21 or 22 years old, with three young children. I’m 23 right now and I could never imagine going through anything like that. She was such a strong lady. I miss her!


39. Me, Myself, And I

I am the dark family secret. My stepdad took physical advantage of me for nine years. My mom only pressed charges when it was convenient for her. I was 15 at the time, and she was planning on leaving him. She told my entire family and spent years shouting it from the hilltops for sympathy…but that’s not even the worst part. My youngest sibling was probably four or five when he was first explicitly told.

My stepdad’s three sons, who are my half-brothers, have always been told that it was a lie, despite his mother recently asking if it was true and apologizing profusely when I said it was. I was 27 when that took place. I still have a relationship with my step-grandparents and don’t fault them for the way that their son turned out.

They’re just trying their best to make sure that my brothers end up alright. His family will always deny it, and I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. My biological dad also didn’t know that I was alive until my mom told him when I was 17 years old. His family doesn’t know about me. I don’t mind. I don’t care to get to know them. My mom’s family is very supportive of me, so I don’t feel compelled to meet his family.

I also haven’t spoken to my mother in over two years, due in large part to this whole messed up situation. I appreciate all of the kind words and support that I’ve gotten from people that I’ve told this story to. It’s been an awful experience and knowing that people out there care has made a big difference.


40. Spilling The Beans

My grandmother has all the dirty little secrets of our family, but she’s too proper to spill anything…until this one night when she told me about my grandfather’s family, i.e. the family that she married into. Essentially, they were very poor back in the day. They were living on the streets and trying to earn money during Australia’s gold rush.

Anyway, the family had too many kids and not enough money, so they did something completely unforgivable—they sold one of their kids to a Chinese businessman. He would have been my grandfather’s great uncle, I suppose. No one knew about it until she blurted this out, and she hasn’t said anything about it again since that night. I think all of us were pretty darn shocked to hear her tell us about this.


41. Wild Goose Chase

This should be obvious, but I’ll say it anyway. Terry, Iris, and Joan are pseudonyms. Please don’t go around trying to dox every woman named Joan. Moving on. As a teen, I’d heard that my cousin Terry’s engagement had failed just a short time before their scheduled wedding date, and that was all that anyone cared to say about the situation.

In recent years, I was given more detail. Apparently, Terry and Joan became engaged after he got her pregnant. All was well at first, but two weeks before the wedding, Terry’s mom Iris became violently ill and actually nearly passed. I can’t remember what the disease was. This was many years ago. Terry asked if Joan would postpone the wedding just until Iris got better so that she could attend.

Joan instead called off the wedding entirely over the phone. Now, here comes the dark bit—when Terry went home to see her, their home was cleaned out. Only Terry’s meager belongings remained. Even their bed was gone. Terry called Joan. No answer. He called her folks. No answer. He went to her folks’ place only to find it completely empty.

Not a trace of them was left behind. No note, no nothing. All of their social media accounts were erased and their phone numbers were deactivated. Even Joan’s siblings had no clue where they’d gone. It was as if they’d vanished. Turns out, they had gathered their possessions and moved from coast to coast. In fact, they would have moved overseas if Terry hadn’t caught them in time.

Joan tried to leave the country with their baby just because Terry wanted his mom to attend their wedding. This whole saga lasted three years. After a long court battle, Terry won primary custody of his child. He is currently a single dad who soaks up every moment they have together. I haven’t been told what became of Joan and I’m certainly not going to ask him.


42. They Don’t Miss Him When He’s Gone

A family friend of mine passed away last year. We met because our daughters did karate together. I was friends with both him and his wife. I’m still friends with his wife to this day. He was already in his 70s when we met, and his wife is about twenty years younger than him. He had a fascinating life story and I wanted to record it for his daughter.

She was going through some difficult times as a young teen. She acted very badly towards him and I felt, based on my own difficult teenage years and experiences with my dad, that she might one day want to know him better; especially since he was already quite old and not in great health. I felt bad that she would likely get to know her dad as an adult.

So, I spent several hours with him making recordings of his stories from his life. It was really interesting. After he passed away, I sent the recordings on USB drives to his wife. She got back to me and said they just threw them away. It came out that he had taken advantage of his daughter. I felt absolutely gut-punched and angry at this old guy who I always thought was so fun and likable.


43. He Sounds Like A Questionable Guy

My father met my mother in the Philippines when he was stationed there in the Navy. He married her there and they conceived me. He then went away to finish his tour of duty. My mother moved to America when she was a month away from giving birth to me. She moved in with relatives in Texas. My father’s tour ended while he was in Hawaii.

That’s when things got super messy. He met a woman there and called my mom in America, asking for a divorce. He wanted to take back his recent marriage to her, despite having a kid on the way, all because he had a hot one-night stand. My mother was already scared, being in a new country and not knowing much English. Add to this that she was pregnant, about to give birth, and her husband was dumping her.

My Texan uncle got on a plane to Hawaii, prepared to kick my father’s butt. He somehow talked my father into being a man and taking responsibility for his wife and child. The fact that the fling dumped his sorry behind surely helped. He was back by the time I was born. I learned all of this when I was eleven years old, around the time my parents got divorced.

It was only the first of countless “dark family secrets” I would come to learn during my teenage years.


44. Fighting Back

My family secret is more cool than horrifying, so in that sense, I’m proud of this one. My grandfather was an amazing guy. He was a sniper and paratrooper during WWII. He always refused to talk about his experiences. I learned later that he was dishonorably discharged after an injury. Turns out, the Sergeant in his squad was an absolute jerk.

He had to go behind enemy lines to set a post up, and the plane was flying too low for a safe jump. He protested it to the Sergeant, who proceeded to shove him out of the plane after calling him a coward. Both my grandfather and his spotter partner were seriously injured in the landing. His partner, who he never really knew, was paralyzed and lost a leg as a result of the incident.

My grandfather broke both of his legs, an arm, a hand, and some ribs. They both were rescued shortly after and taken to a military hospital. That’s not what got him discharged, though. Turns out, the Sergeant showed up to visit them in the infirmary, and my grandfather punched him square in the face with his only good hand, twice.

If his only army buddy we ever knew is to be believed, since he was apparently also visiting at the time and witnessed the punch, my grandfather absolutely floored the guy. After that, and on top of his injuries, the army sent him home for good. We found this all out after he had passed away and we had to go through his stuff.

There were a bunch of newspaper and article clippings about the folks involved that he had kept. The Sergeant was also discharged after a similar incident cost the lives of two other members of his squad a year later. Those guys weren’t so lucky. The man apparently drank himself to an early grave many years later. We found all these written but unsent letters to his Sergeant talking about what happened.

We also found photos of my grandfather’s squad, which included the two that lost their lives posing with him. It was heartbreaking to see. I never knew any of this. He was such a fun, kind, and goofy guy. You’d never think that anything like this would happen to him. Now I know why my parents always said never to bring up the army around him.

I miss you, grandpa. I’d have punched the jerk, too!

45. The Grand Scheme Of Things

My great-grandpa was a fascist and got a death sentence. Later on, the sentence was reduced to life behind bars, and then reduced even further. It’s debatable how fair that was. My other great-grandpa was shot by some man in front of his son, i.e. my grandpa. My grandpa would have lost his life too, but luckily he started running and managed to get away in time, only getting shot in the arm.

But it gets much, much worse—turns out, his mom knew who was behind the attack but refused to tell him and his brother so that they wouldn’t try to get revenge. She didn’t admit this to them until just before her own passing. My great-grandma read tarot cards for a regional political figure during an important political decision; though I think her role might be overly exaggerated by our family. I’d rather not give the details.

My grandma’s brother was adored by a famous female poet, but he was gay and was murdered by his lover. This was really a big secret because his mom was very religious. My family only found out much later. My grandma loved him a lot too, and never fully got over his passing. Sadly and somewhat ironically, my grandpa was a good actor and was allegedly offered projects in Hollywood, but he turned them down because he thought people there were too gay.

His brother, though, had minor roles in some minor movies. He always carried arms around and acted like a celebrity. Some of this sounds almost made up, but I think those were just interesting times to be alive in…


46. Sister Day

My grandma had thirteen siblings. Of them, seven women are still alive. Once a year, they have a “Sister Day” where they all get together and go somewhere together to have fun. They’ve been doing this since they were in their teens. All but one of the sisters participates in this annual event. The odd one out is the one who has been lied to her whole life about “Sister Day” because she thinks it doesn’t exist.

This is supposed to have started when that sister borrowed something and didn’t give it back…or something else trivial like that. We are all reminded whenever we get together that we’re not to talk about this because it will hurt that sister. I still can’t wrap my head around how backstabbing and petty some family members of mine are. This is just stupid.


47. The Truth Comes Out

Turns out, the reason my mom’s parents divorced wasn’t that they “fell out of love,” but because my father had an affair with another married woman from their church. The families had known each other for years and my mom was good friends with the other woman’s kids. They ended up getting married less than a year after their respective divorces. They each had three kids.

It was especially sad because my new step grandmother’s children suffered pretty badly. Neither she nor her ex-husband were functional adults. Their kids grew up fast and the oldest daughter basically became the family’s mom and maid at the ripe old age of twelve, since her dad refused to step up. I don’t mean that she literally had a kid when she was twelve, but the housekeeping duties of the family basically all fell on her and the other females in the house since her dad just refused to learn how to cook or clean.

My biological grandmother, bless her, didn’t tell a soul about this. When I told her I knew, she sort of smiled and nodded like it was a relief that someone else knew besides her. I can’t imagine keeping a secret like that for so long and not being able to tell your kids that it really wasn’t your fault that you divorced and up-ended their lives.

So yeah, I learned that little gem while helping with my step grandmother’s hospice care this past fall. She was always a chatty person, but end-of-life substances really amped it up. It was pretty shocking because my grandfather is a pretty laid back, kind, straight-laced, churchgoing type of person. You would never suspect him of cheating.

The worst part is that, in my shock and confusion, I told my mother about it and it was pretty obvious that she had no clue prior to my telling her. I really wish I could take that back. Also, this may sound surprising based on the story, but I actually had a pretty good relationship with my step-grandmother over the years. That probably would have been different if I’d known what I know now. It kind of sucks when stuff like this comes up.

I still love her and my grandfather, but darn. They caused so much suffering for their kids, just for the sake of being together. That’s hard to overlook.


48. Message In A Bottle

I once got a Facebook message from a guy asking if I was related to my dad, since we don’t have a common last name. I thought he was a fan of his work because I was in college at the time and the guy was about the same age as me. And that’s how I found out that my dad had slept around and that I had a half-brother the same age as me…


49. Missing Guy Found

The dark family secret I discovered is that my favorite cousin wasn’t really missing as I had always been told. He was 13 years older than me and all I knew growing up was that he would come and go a lot. He lived with us when I was a baby, and after some time, he moved out. He would visit every six months or so out of the blue, but we never called or visited him ourselves.

His visits were one of my most favorite things in the world. I loved him like a brother. By the time I was a teenager, I began to understand that he had issues with his parents. They had kicked him out when he was 13 and my parents took him in. But that kind of childhood messes with you. In between visits to my parents’ place, he avoided the rest of the family, moved around a lot, and didn’t hold jobs for long.

That’s part of the reason why my parents didn’t always know where he was. But in my later teens, he stopped coming over at all. I asked repeatedly if anyone had heard from him, and I was always told no. I asked about contacting him and was told that no one had a number or address for him. I assumed he would come around when he felt like it.

But his absence stretched on for years. I really worried that he had somehow passed, and I really missed him. In my late twenties, I finally found out the shocking truth—everyone knew where he was the whole time. He was serving a sentence behind bars for shooting someone. From what I hear, though, it was actually somewhat justified. He was defending his new wife, who I never got to meet.

I also found out some super awful things about how the extended family sided with his messed-up parents and refused to help him or his wife when he got taken in. They also shamed my dad for not helping either. I tried to send a message to him recently, but I don’t know if he ever got it. I wish he knew that I didn’t turn my back on him for decades as everyone else did. I just didn’t know.


50. I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter

My dad used to send me birthday cards every year when I was a young girl. My mother left my dad while she was pregnant with me, and for good reason too. Even though I never got to meet him when I was young, I was glad to still receive a card from him with a few bucks acknowledging that I was alive and that he would one day come to see me.

But then, around the age of 14 or 15, I learned a horrible secret about those letters. My mother had actually written every single one of them, and my grandfather would mail it to our address to make it seem legit. I never ever actually received any letter from him. In reality, my dad was a pretty terrible guy. Without airing all my family’s dirty laundry, suffice it to say that he was the worst kind of human.

I eventually did meet him…two times in fact: Once at my aunt’s funeral when I was 17, where he wrote me a long letter about how he wished he was better, and again when I was 19 when he tried to establish a relationship. He gave me terrible vibes and I never answered his attempts to reach out after that. Besides, I’m much happier this way.

My mom raised two kids by herself. Unfortunately, my family has its issues. They’ve got drinking issues and my mother herself has deep mental health issues. Growing up with her wasn’t always easy and it still isn’t now. Some days, she is lucid and a wonderful mother, then other days, she’s violent and unstable. But I know deep down inside her where she is well and unafflicted by her illness, she is an incredible mother and a kind person.

I just have to try and remember the good times. My family and I are estranged these days, but it makes me want to work harder to be a stable and loving mother if I become one someday. At the end of everything, I do still love my mom and am thankful she shielded me from him.


Sources: 1, 2

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