These Dark Family Secrets Got Out

September 1, 2023 | Scott Mazza

These Dark Family Secrets Got Out

We all keep secrets from each other, no matter how close we think we are. This goes double for our families—so when long-held family secrets finally do come out, the results are catastrophic. These Redditors dealt with deathbed confessions, DNA revelations, and so much more, and they never looked at their relatives the same way again.

1. Double Life

I found out over Christmas while doing a family history search online that my dad had fathered two children by a different woman about 20 years ago. He and my mother have been married for over 35 years. His name brought up results for not only myself and my two brothers’ births, but two other births. He has very unusual first and last names so curiosity got the better of me, and I started to find out more.

The births were registered in the north of England, in the Newcastle area. This rang alarm bells immediately because my dad had worked in this region for five years with the company he worked for in the early 90s. I was only a little kid back then, and I missed him so much at the time. So did my brothers and mom; he worked on a two-week on, two-week off rotation, so he was always back and forth.

Then I dug a little deeper. Just to confirm. I found the children (now grown women) and their Facebook pages. They still used the last name given to them at birth—our father’s. I didn't contact them because I had a suspicion they'd have no idea they had siblings, and my suspicions were confirmed when I contacted their mother on there instead.

At first, I told her I was a "relative" of my dad’s and I wanted to know more about any children he potentially had because I was trying to track him down. She confirmed that he was the father of her children after I sent her some details and a photo from that time. She proved it 100% by scanning and sending me copies of the birth certificates and some photos she had of him and their daughters when they were just babies. Then she told me to call her.

I called her—I can't say I was ever nervous or anxious about this call, but I remember feeling livid. Livid at him mostly, for what he'd done to my mother and us as a family while he had supposedly been working hard and "all alone" up north, and while his wife and children sat on their thumbs in Wales patiently waiting for his return every two weeks for five years.

I told her my name and that I was actually his daughter—his only daughter, I thought up until that moment, and that I had two other brothers who were older. I added that my parents had, in fact, been married for over 35 years. This poor woman screeched down the phone crying. She never knew any of this. When she met my father it was in a pub in Newcastle about three months after he had moved up there.

He said he was single and didn't have any family. He told her he was from Wales, but he lied about the area he grew up in. A couple of months later, they were expecting their firstborn, and about a year after that a second daughter. She said when he went back to Wales every two weeks she thought it was for work-related stuff and that he would call every other evening from a local phone box because he didn't have a landline.

When the daughters were just little kids, he left one day to go to Wales and work and never came back. She tried to contact the company he worked for and they said he no longer worked for them. This was around about the time, to my knowledge, his five years in Newcastle was up, and he had left the company and moved back to Wales. And that’s not the worst part.

Because he had lied about where he lived in Wales, she was unable to track him down, and now being left with two girls and no job, she had to get on with it. After about a month, she realized he wasn't going to contact them ever again and he was gone—wherever. She didn't have a clue he had a massive family with a wife and kids and a mortgage and a dog back home in Wales.

If she had, she definitely would not have gotten into a relationship with him, and least of all had kids. I haven't brought it up with him obviously because of my mother, but Christmas was so difficult for me personally knowing this. For two days leading up to Christmas, I drank so much that I slept for 18 hours straight on Christmas day and missed the whole thing. My father was fuming that I'd "ruined Christmas" and I very nearly then exploded, but I kept my mouth shut. But it wasn’t over.

The day after Christmas, I got a call again from the mother in Newcastle, telling me she had told her daughters very delicately what had happened, and that she will leave it up to them to decide what to do. So far, they have done nothing. I have not been in contact with them at all and vice versa since. However, the mother did call me around February to check in with me and see how I was—she's a very nice woman.

At that point, she was curious if I was visiting the north in the future and if I would like to meet her family. I told her I would think about it. I'm actually visiting Newcastle for a hen party in two months, so I'm thinking about it more. Part of me hopes one day they come knocking on our door because they know where to go now. Part of me doesn't because of my mother.

Over the past seven months, my relationship with my father has disintegrated and is the chief cause of his "stress". It's so bad he's telling me it's exacerbating his heart condition (which he is on pills for). My parents are putting it down to some kind of "mid-20s rebellion" because I didn't have a rebellion when I was a teenager. I just want to kick him in the face every time I see him.

The next step in this saga is to tell my eldest brother. He is serious and mature and will be able to deal with it a bit better, I think. He's never had a great relationship with my dad for some reason so I'd like him to know. His wife (my best friend) already knows there is something wrong with me because I think I'm pretty much having a breakdown over it.

The burden is too tough, I'm even struggling with my job. Part of the reason I want them to knock on our door looking for their dad is so that the weight is lifted, but how do you go back from that? My mother is a proud but fragile woman, and it will destroy her.

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2. Rebel Without A Cause

My grandma didn't drive. I thought she couldn't, but it was just never discussed. One day when I was maybe seven or eight, I'd been trying to get someone, anyone, to drive me to the store for candy. We were visiting my aunt and uncle, and my grandma lived with them. They had Bit-O-Honey at the local store, which I could no longer get at home, but no one would take me to the store.

Finally, I said I'd just ask grandma, and my cousin chimes in with, "Grandma can't drive". She had an immediate comeback. "Oh, you bet your sweet behind I can drive. They just don't let me!" Grandma had overheard and she was very offended. But that's all that was said about it at the time and my aunt finally took me to the store, so I forgot about it…until much later.

Years later, when I'd just gotten my license, I asked my mom what was up with grandma not driving. The whole story came out. She explained that during prohibition, grandma boot-legged moonshine, and she was very successful at it. She was so successful at it, in fact, that when the moonshiners were finally busted, even though the revenuers never caught my grandma, her license was suspended by the state "to never be reissued".

Later in life, she was told she could petition for it back but it came with an admission of guilt or some such. She told 'em to get lost.

Family Secrets FactsShutterstock

3. Romeo And Juliet

After my grandfather passed, we found out he had fathered a child when he was posted in Italy during WWII. But that’s just the beginning of the saga. He never knew, because his mother intercepted any letters from the Italian girl who was the mother. So my grandfather finally came home, met and married my grandmother, and had four children.

I forget who in the family found out and how. It's crazy to think we have a whole Italian family out there! My oldest aunt is 77 so this “kid” would be at least 79 by now I would think. We've considered doing the DNA testing, but some family members aren't comfortable with how those companies could use the information.

It's a really sad story, but if his mother hadn't intercepted the letters, I wouldn't exist. It's a weird place to be in emotionally!

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4. No Regrets

When my sister was diagnosed with cancer and her survival chances were low, it inevitably came out that she wasn’t my sister. My parents must have felt we should all know the truth just in case. But then there was a big twist. She survived her treatment. Obviously, we had to deal with the fallout a bit differently than we expected, but we were so happy she was okay and she is and will always be my sister.

Memorable Strangers factsShutterstock

5. Water Under The Bridge

My mom and older brother are not biologically related to me. My bio mom passed sometime after I was born, leaving me, my sister, and my dad behind. My brother was the one that told me. My parents never told me because they wanted to protect me from the truth, but my brother thought that was a stupid reason for me to not know. I don't know if my parents know that I know the truth, but I don't want to bring it up either.

My biological mom immigrated here along with my older brother when he was a kid. My dad also immigrated here and my sister and I were born after he came. I don't know much about our family history beyond that. My brother revealed this information around when I was 18. He isn't the type to lie about something like this. He also said my sister is apparently aware of the truth because she has a memory of my bio mom being in physical contact with her.

I don't think too differently about my family because of this, my mom is still my mom.

Dodged a bulletUnsplash

6. Secret Sauce

My grandmother recently passed. She was famous in our town for her amazing cooking and catering, in particular her turkey dinners. Notably, her gravy was absolutely amazing. So delicious. She had a heart attack several years ago and the harrowing experience convinced her to share some of her secret recipes with me, all except for her gravy recipe.

When she passed this spring, I was going through her pantry—that when I made my shocking discovery. I found an entire bucket of KFC gravy mix. She was literally using KFC gravy mix as a base to make her incredible gravy. Huge scandal, ha!

Family Secrets FactsFlickr

7. When It Rains, It Pours

When my mother fell ill and I took over her finances, I saw something I wished I could take back. I found thousands of dollars of gambling debt on her credit cards. Then I found adoption papers for a child she’d had before me that she’d never mentioned. Then another family member told me my dad didn’t pass in a car crash, but took his own life in prison.

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8. For God And Country

I learned that my grandfather was an atomic soldier. Instead of sending him to fight in the Korean theatre, they sent him to Nevada, where—after having him turn away from the initial flash—he witnessed the mushroom cloud. After that was over, he was ordered to march to the detonation point, where he was unwittingly exposed to high amounts of radiation.

Luckily for my family, my grandpa is now in his 90s, even after a few cancer scares, and the rest of us are cancer-free and fairly healthy, but this is medical information that we really should have known earlier!

Family Secrets FactsWikimedia Commons

9. Close Call

My father got a girl pregnant and she decided to go it alone, so she moved across the state and had my half-sister. She met a guy, married, and he raised her like she was his own. They had no other children, and she didn't reveal my dad's identity until after he passed. Apparently, the woman had contacted my grandma and mom, but they kept it from us. Instead, it came out in the worst way.

Years later, my half-sister had a kid with medical issues and needed to know family medical history. She contacts mom and grandma, who again don't tell us. Meanwhile, after dad passed, my uncle had prints made of a favorite picture of dad. He gets them framed and gives them to all us kids, as well as my grandma, aunts, and uncles. Mom gets a picture to our half-sister after their secret meeting. Fast forward another few years.

My brother and his roommate live in a nearby large city, hit a bar, and pick up and bring home some ladies to "sleep over". The next morning, my half-sister sees a photo on the mantle and turns white. She asks, "Whose picture is that?" "Oh, that's my roommate's dad. He died a long time ago". "I need to talk to your roommate". She lived her entire life across the state.

Hundreds of miles. Her friend was going to school in a large city near our hometown. She was visiting, and they decided to go to the bar. They get picked up by my brother and his roommate. That's how we found out. My brother went to my grandma and asked about her, and grandma first denied it, then gave in and spilled the beans. Small world. And thank GOD she slept with the roommate and not him.

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10. As Luck Would Have It

After my mom passed, I found out the real story behind my parent's marriage. She came to my father's country to visit some of her relatives. She met my father, and after just one week she asked him to marry her so she could stay in the country. My father accepted because he had no one else and his parents were pressing him to get married already anyway.

But the highlight of the story is that over some time, the two of them fell in love with each other. Their love only grew over time and they were really happy together. My mother spent her last days very ill, and she would accept only my father by her bedside. He swears to this day that she was an angel sent from God to take care of him. I am shocked that they got married just like that, out of the blue, and ended up loving each other so, so, so deeply.

I can only hope to have as good and loving of a marriage as they had.

Bridezillas factsPexels

11. Brotherly Love

My mother had a child when she was a teenager, and she had given him up for adoption to a family. After this, she went to college, got her degree, married my father, and gave birth to my four siblings and myself. ~30 years after giving her child up for adoption, I remember her getting a phone call and immediately locking herself in her room. I was about 12 at the time.

I remember feeling scared because I could hear my mom crying, but she didn’t want to see anybody or talk about why she was crying. On an evening later that week, my parents sat each of us kids down and told us about my mom’s past and explained that my half-brother had reached out to my mom, wanting to meet her and get to know her. My dad had known ever since he and mom were dating in college, and I believe my oldest sister had been told previous to this point.

But the rest of my siblings and I and all of the in-laws on my dad’s side didn’t know about this part of her past. We are fairly religious and conservative, so it was really shocking at first. My mom then flew out to the state where my half-brother lived and met him. Both my mom and my half-brother were very nervous about the whole thing, but by the end of their trip and meeting each other, they got to rebuild a relationship.

After a bit of time, my siblings and I got to meet him too. Fast-forwarding to now, he’s since moved to our same state and we see him much more frequently. He’s in all of our family pictures, we see him occasionally for holidays and birthdays, and we all see him as part of our family. We’re a very close-knit and extroverted family, while he is much shyer, so at times he can be a bit more distant than we would like, but we give him his space.

I know my mom stays in close touch with him, and we love it when he’s able to make it for family dinners and whatnot. Back then, I was the youngest and, up until then, the only boy in my family, so I loved learning that I had an older brother. Now that I’m an adult, I sometimes get his old clothes because we’re roughly the same size. He’s got good taste too so I really lucked out, ha.

I love that this family secret was spilled and that we were able to welcome my brother into our family and have him in our lives.

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12. Bit Off More Than He Could Chew

As a young teenager, my grandma shot her horrific father in the back while he was sleeping. He had been mistreating her and all her siblings, and she ran away after being hidden by her brother for some time. Her father survived, though. Thankfully, my grandma never faced any consequences, but she was batty until the day she passed. My aunt told me all this at her funeral because I asked why grandma was the way she was.

Edgar Allan Poe FactsPickPik

13. You Think You Know Someone

My mother often had stories like: "At your age, we got up at 4 am to work on the farm. After the job, we went home to have lunch with your grandfather, then we walked 10 miles to go to school, and when we were back, we used to work in the field in a tractor until it was 6 pm to go and cook dinner for your grandfather". And I would be like, "Yeah but…he didn't work the farm with you in the morning?" and she would immediately change the subject.

I learned in Easter that my grandfather had a drinking problem, got sloshed every night, didn't get up in the morning to go to work, or was in fake jobs to lie to the family and go to drink, all while the children had to go to elementary school and manage a farm. But it gets worse. He eventually went behind bars because he attacked the neighbor's children.

When he got out, he took out a loan of $30,000 in my grandmother's name and ran away with the money. Then he passed a few years later. My grandmother bought herself a used Ford LTD, and no one cried at the funeral.

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14. Always Be My Baby

When I was 28, I found out that my dad was not my biological father. This is how the news came out: My dad was battling depression and was suicidal, so I had just flown home to try to take care of him and rescue him from my mom's wrath. My mom had verbally and emotionally harmed him during their entire relationship. He loved her so much, and he tolerated it.

Well, during a solemn walk with my dad, as I tried to help him out, he made a heartbreaking confession. He confided that he's not my biological dad, and he went on to tell me he knew this all along, but my mom lied to him and tried to convince him that he was my biological father. He knew he wasn't, but he wanted to play the role. When I was 10 years old, my mom finally confessed this to him, and he was worried that upon hearing the news, officially, he'd somehow let this affect his relationship with me.

So, when I was 28 years old, during this walk with my dad, as he pours out this story to me, he frames it by telling me that his two most proud moments in his life are: (1) how I turned out and him raising me and (2) that the day he learned he wasn’t my bio dad, he had completely forgotten throughout the day and that it was only upon tucking me in that night that it briefly crossed his mind.

It was at that point that he knew nothing would ever come between us and our father-son relationship would be as awesome as ever. And then the other shoe dropped. He also confided to me that my mom used illicit substances while pregnant with me, and this broke his heart to witness firsthand. They were very poor, and my dad grew up in a foster home without parents.

My mom grew up with six siblings and ill-equipped parents. She dropped out of ninth grade, whereas all of her other siblings dropped out earlier—many of them are barely literate. I'm now in my mid-30s, and tragically, my dad did pass by taking his own life in mid-March 2020. I was out of the country at the time but immediately flew 30 hours and made it in time for his funeral. I do everything in his honor.

Memory FactsUnsplash

15. Long Lost Relative

Last week I discovered that my dad passed two years ago...and no one bothered to tell me. I'd been looking for him. He was something of a drifter and most likely had Asperger's. I'm his only child. I stumbled across his headstone on while digging through Ancestry. His marker was labeled "beloved brother". My aunts and uncles are pieces of trash; I'm not hard to find.

I don't even know how he passed, but I do know he went alone. The state paid for his burial. I'm not okay. I'm still processing the whole thing so I'm not ready to confront my relatives. My dad was a good guy. He had his demons and my mother was one of them, but our estrangement wasn’t his fault. I'm my father's daughter, and I say that proudly.

I'm a veteran like he was, I'm a writer like he was, and I'm autistic as well, so I understand the gaps in contact. He was kind, smart, sarcastic, and just a good guy. He loved baseball and metal detecting.

Alla Nazimova FactsPixabay

16. Do The Math

This exchange was at my great-grandparents’ 60th-anniversary party at a hotel ballroom, with cousins and second and cousins who hadn’t seen each other in years. My mom and I were talking to my grandfather. Mom: “Wow. I haven’t seen Chuck, Fred, and a Claire in years". Me: “No kidding. When do you think we’ll get a group this big back together?”

Mom: “Well, Grampa’s birthday is in six months. We’ll see some people then". Me: “Six months? Isn’t it his 60th?” All: ... Gramps: “Huh. I never thought about that". My grandfather was 60 years old when he realized his parents had a shotgun wedding.

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17. Secret’s Out

My uncle served in Vietnam. While over there, his troop found a baby that had been orphaned or abandoned, they aren't sure. My uncle was shipping back to Australia soon and wanted to adopt him, but my aunt said no. They'd only been married about four months when he was drafted, so while I don't agree with my aunt's actions and generally don't like her as a person, I can understand why she said no.

My uncle's troop found a family to raise the baby, and that's the story the whole family knows. But there’s a secret. The secret is that my uncle and some other guys from his troop stayed in contact with the family and the kid, sending them money every month to help raise him and then to help him go to university and eventually helped him and his adoptive family move to Australia in the late 90s.

My aunt and the rest of my family had no idea all this time, it only came out when my aunt and uncle divorced in 2017 and she had a forensic accountant go through their bank records. She worked at a bank for like 40 years and always noticed the money missing, but his reasons were always justified. Since we all know now, my uncle has introduced some of us to the guy and his family. They're all really lovely people.

Family Secrets FactsUnsplash

18. The Truth Will Out

I see a lot of stories about people finding out that who they thought were their parents weren’t the people raising them, and this one is a little bit different. My dad always thought his father who raised him wasn’t his biological dad, and the father thought the same. He was treated terribly by his father because the father was told he couldn’t have children and my father was born prematurely but at a healthy weight.

So, everyone assumed my grandmother had an affair and got pregnant with my dad. It was to the point that after my grandmother passed, my grandfather failed to even mention to his new wife that he had a son and grandchild—i.e. me. Well, years later, my dad gets an AncestryDNA test for him and me. He finds out that his dad was actually his biological dad. It was shocking and sad.

Abductions FactsShutterstock

19. Guess Who

I grew up in a Mexican family and have two younger cousins. My aunt married another Latino guy who basically looked white. The oldest child was a girl and came out looking exactly like her dad, full stop. The second was a boy and came out looking like....his mom? Maybe? He was dark dark. Like, I’m half-Black and this kid is darker than me.

But his mom was pretty brown as well, so we thought nothing of it. The kid looks like his mom, no big deal. Well, fast-forward 16 years later. They’re divorced and hate each other now. The daughter was always treated like a princess. The boy was rather spoiled too, but very much sought out his dad’s approval, which he just wasn’t getting.

He couldn’t figure out why. He’s acting out, getting in trouble, running with gangs. Boohoos about his dad all the time. Well, “dad” had enough and flat-out told him, “You’re not my kid. You’re mom cheated, and I don’t know who your dad is". He even was kind enough to offer up a paternity test. His mother never said anything about it.

She took the ostrich approach and hoped it would go away. We know now his dad was a Pacific Islander, and while there IS one guy who has always been a family friend for many years, he took a paternity test too and was completely cleared. So the mystery remains on whom she cheated on her ex with. She says she doesn’t even know or remember now.

Cruelest ThingsUnsplash

20. A No-Win Game

After my mom’s passing from an apparent suicide, my grandfather revealed that when she was in her teens, she accused him of touching her right around the time he started cheating on his wife, her mother. It led to them not speaking for years until they reconciled and she allowed him to meet me and my brother. We always knew they had a falling out but didn’t know why. Only that’s not the end of the story. 

Anyways, a few months after telling me, my grandpa drove a tractor out into the woods on his property and shot himself. He’d suffered a stroke a few years prior that left him mostly paralyzed on one side and he really struggled with it. At that point, I came to realize that either my grandfather truly did mistreat my mother and was never really brought to justice for it, or my mom was a liar to spite him.

And honestly, both are legitimate possibilities and I’ll never know what’s true...

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21. The Hard Hand Of Justice

Uncle-in-law passed in a tragic way…but he fully deserved it.  It came out he was mistreating his children (he had been on the run) and his youngest son found him with his sisters. The ensuing beat-down resulted in the uncle getting a stroke and being bedridden until he passed. My aunt (his wife) basically left him to perish after that, too.

My cousin, the one who did the beating, was also the one who found his body. He delivered the news a day after, completely sloshed out of his mind. The uncle’s parents and siblings refused to give him a proper funeral, which is a big “screw you” in our culture, and instead buried him without a headstone. Again, I can’t say he didn’t deserve it.

Messed Up Love stories FactsShutterstock

22. Your Past Comes Back To Haunt You

My great-grandfather didn't go from cancer. He passed from complications after being shot when one of his businesses was being robbed. Maybe. See, he also spent a lot of time in Atlantic City. He also had a lot of partners in the Teamsters and other unions in coal country. Also, everyone called him "Smiling Tony,” but his name wasn't Tony.

He passed in the 60s, long before my time, but when my great-grandmother passed 20 years ago, a very old guy showed up to the funeral in a white suit, and all of the oldest people in my family kissed his hand. When I asked, no one knew who he was. My grandfather moved his family away from central Pennsylvania in the late 60s and disconnected from all of this but…there it is.

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23. Daddy Issues

My dad passed two years ago. He and my mom were married for 34 years, and he was a good dad and husband. I have no bad memories of him. I was so, so wrong. I just found out that for the middle 10 years he was married, he was living a double life and had many mistresses on the side. Now my whole childhood feels like a sham. I don't know what was real and what was fabricated.

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24. You’re Not Welcome Here

My father passed when I was 17. At the funeral home during a viewing, a young lady and her boyfriend showed up. She was probably two or three years older than me. Nobody recognized her so she was asked why she was there. Her answer shocked the room. She stated she was there to see her father. My siblings and I are naturally confused, and our mom is just standing there shaking her head.

My uncles ask her to leave, and she leaves crying in her boyfriend's arms. Our mother then takes us to a private area and explains that our father had an affair years ago and that was our half-sister. I never heard any more about her, never learned her name, and have never met her. I would like to meet her and apologize for my family. Seeing her rejected and crying because she couldn't even attend a viewing for her father bothers me to this day, and this was over 40 years ago.

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25. Nice Guys Finish Last

A cousin in my family had been secretly stalking and harassing another cousin for like three years, to a really bad degree. He eventually admitted it, however, he didn't face any consequences. He never gave any good reason for it at all and didn't even know the other cousin very well, he just randomly decided to start doing it. A lot of family members were in denial over it because he seemed like a nice guy.

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26. Law And Order

This is years ago, and I only got a few rough details, but my father-in-law wound up getting caught in a sting…trying to purchase a teenage girl. This whole thing went very, very deep. Like, he had a separate apartment all set up, transferred the funds, and when he went to the "delivery" meet, the feds scooped him right up. H’s definitely the Black Sheep of the family now.

Said To Police factsShutterstock

27. Your Secret Is Safe With Me

My mom’s side of the family are farmers. One particularly dry summer we were playing around with fireworks in a pasture and accidentally lit it on fire. Luckily there was an industrial hose attached to the well nearby, and we were able to turn it on and douse the flames before it got out of control. We didn’t tell anyone until 10 years later, when it came out to my parents and my aunt and uncle.

My uncle, who farmed the land, burst out laughing and told us that it must’ve been not long after that that he was at that property and obviously noticed the burned grass and askew hose. He put two and two together, but didn’t say anything because he figured kids were being kids, and we probably learned our lesson. I think we definitely did.

Family Secrets FactsPixaHive

28. Enough Is Enough

This happened in the 60s or 70s. One of my mom's second or third cousins fatally shot his father. The father was a raging jerk and mistreated his wife and the son, especially when he was drinking. Well, the father came home after the bar one night, started hurting the mom, and son had had enough and shot him. The guy spent a few years behind bars, but I think he lives a fairly normal life now.

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29. I Want It Now

I learned that my cousin called CPS on her parents because her mom was upset that she was out for two days without picking up her phone or calling and texting. She told CPS that her parents physically harmed her. Her dad was put behind bars for some time, her mom sat with the authorities for hours, her little brother ended up traumatized, and our grandparents became sick with worry.

Then two years later, she admitted that she lied because she wanted to get out of the house and get all the money that was in the account in her name but didn't want to wait until she was 18. This witch was 17 years and eight months old.

Legal Disasters FactsPikrepo

30. Follow The Party Line

I learned that my parents "had" to get married. They always told us they got married in 1961, but it was 1962, just three months before my sister was born. What's amusing is that my father was an accountant who was insanely fast with math. Whenever he was asked how many years they'd been married, he'd be off by one. My mother would correct him through clenched teeth and then my father would nod and agree.

Sarah Bernhardt FactsPexels

31. Cool Grandpa

When my paternal grandfather passed, bizarre things began to happen. First, the federal government reached out to do a state funeral. Now, he'd been a career army guy and a colonel, so we didn't question it at first. But then the funeral came and they went ALL OUT! A huge procession, people showing up who are really big names, like heads of departments, senators, retired senators, people from the CIA and the State Department.

It was nuts and we were all super confused. Turns out, he was a key dude in the OSI during WWII, and when the OSI splintered into the CIA and Secret Service, he went the Secret Service route. He wasn't on White House detail, but instead worked in a covert office that dealt with currency. He went blind when I was a toddler and retired from “the army".

For whatever reason, he told no one about all his covert work with the OSI and Secret Service, and the only person who knew (my grandmother) was sworn to secrecy and never told anyone. My father grew up thinking he was just a colonel working on base. Only after his passing were we given all sorts of cool stuff like publications by him, lectures given by him, and all kinds of things from various things he did and was known for.

All I knew him as was a blind old man who was perpetually drinking and being a crotchety guy. Turns out he was a total boss and none of us knew.

Family Secrets FactsShutterstock

32. Take A Look At Yourself

My mom was cheating on my dad with my now-stepfather. My parents divorced when I was really young (about one year old), so I don't remember anything about that. When I would ask as a curious kid why they split up, they both said that they just fell out of love. I already had a feeling that this was not true because through my grandma I knew the divorce was in 1996, but my mom and stepfather started dating in 1995.

On my 18th birthday, my stepfather confessed to me in private that they had an affair all that time ago and he still feels awful, because he feels like he broke up that family. I told him that it was okay, because everyone is happy now and I already kind of knew it. Some years later, though, more information came to light. My stepmother told me that my mom actually kicked out my dad without telling him why.

She said she just "needed a break"—remember she just had a newborn and my dad could barely see me at the beginning. My dad later found out through the landlord that my stepfather had moved in. Like, moved into the house my dad rented with his wife where his newborn daughter was now living with a stranger. To this day, I don't know how my dad managed to overcome this without starting a huge fight.

I never talked to my parents about it. Just once when my mom was having a rant about a neighbor who left her husband for another man, I told her that people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. I hope you know what that saying means—she definitely did.

Family Secrets FactsShutterstock

33. Mother Knows Best

When I was five years old, Santa Claus left a Nintendo on our front porch. It was wrapped in newspaper, and my parents had no idea who gifted it to us. My dad in particular really tried to figure it out. He was always suspicious that it had been a family friend. It was by far the best gift of the year, and we played it all the time throughout our childhood.

My dad passed in 2004. Last Christmas, my mom explained that she was the one who had bought it and surreptitiously placed it on the porch. My dad really liked to be in control of things and had forbidden the purchase. She knew better. She didn't tell a soul for 30 years. Thanks, Mom.

Family Secrets FactsFlickr

34. A Legendary Grudge

It's my wife's family, but it goes like this: A great aunt was one of the family's only survivors of the Holocaust back in WWII. Other than her, there were her brother and sister, one of which grew up to be my wife's grandparent. I can't remember which, since I never met them. The siblings were much younger then, so, they didn't remember much.

Well, the great aunt ends up writing a book about her experience fleeing the country to escape the Third Reich. In it, she details the ends of several family members during a march through a blizzard. Real dramatic stuff. But soon enough, all her lies unraveled. After she passed, my wife's dad gets a letter from one of the “dead” relatives. It turns out the great aunt just simply didn’t like the two family members who “passed” in her book.

In reality, they had just parted ways at some point during the escape. She wrote them out of the family in her book and took the secret to her grave. Fortunately, their last name is very unique in the world because of how many of them didn't survive. So, once these relatives started searching the US, our family popped up right away.

This happened about three years ago, I think. Hungarian grudges are legendary.

Family Secrets FactsShutterstock

35. Be Careful What You Wish For

We recently found out that around 40 years ago, my grandfather had a seven-year-long affair with a woman in his church who was also married. During this time, he had two children with this woman that they never told anyone about. She pretended that those two children were her husband’s, despite them not looking anything like him. But it’s how we found out that was ridiculous. 

A couple of years ago, I had gotten one of the 23andMe DNA kits to figure out what my ethnic background looked like. My aunt and uncle had done the same about a year ago as well. Once you get your results from 23andMe, it will also show you any DNA matches you have with relatives. A couple of days after Christmas, a woman had reached out to my aunt and uncle, asking to speak with them because 23andMe was telling her that they were her half-siblings and that I was showing up as her nephew.

Coming from a very strict Catholic family, this was very confusing and concerning to her. They ended up meeting and pieced together everything and then approached their parents about it. At first, they denied it, then came clean about the affair. It's been pretty hard on the family. For the longest time, my grandfather was too stubborn to even apologize to the family and my grandmother for all the pain he's brought, but he finally did.

Shockingly enough, my grandparents are still together despite all of this coming to light.

Family Secrets FactsUnsplash

36. Revenge Is Best Served Cold

My great-grandfather supposedly killed a guy. The story goes that my grandma’s sister, who was five at the time, went missing from the front step of the house and was taken by a neighbor boy. When she was found and quickly identified by witnesses, he went behind bars for around six or seven years. No one in my family is clear on the details now, but the girl passed either soon after or some years later, but she did die as a result of what happened.

Eventually, the guy got out and was sent to live in a halfway house. He basically never made it and his body was dragged out of the Thames two weeks later. Apparently, he showed signs of having been restrained and beaten. My great-granddad had never taken a day off work…except for those two weeks his daughter’s attacker was missing.

The authorities knew. They came around and asked if he'd had two weeks off from work and he was like “yeah” and that was it, they left it at that. This was the 1920s. I've had a search around online since then but I can't find much about it. Still, a lot of our older buildings got destroyed during WWII where I am, so it's possible the records got lost.

The guy who took her was described by a witness, and a local officer instantly recognized the neighbor who had done it, who had fairly distinctive features and clothes. He then confessed almost as soon as he was approached and had apparently suggested to his mother just the night before that'd he'd done something terrible.

Family Secrets FactsShutterstock

37. Hill Justice

My mom and I cared for her father as he deteriorated with old age. As his mind went, he told stories from WWII and his youth, and about my grandmother's first husband. My grandpa had a crush on her before WWII but never acted on it because he was dirt poor. He lied about his age and joined the Navy when he was somewhere between 14 and 16 so he could be respectable—so he could be worthy of her.

While he was away, she married a man her parents liked. Her first husband beat her badly and would assault her and then make her sleep in the barn. She stayed because divorce wasn't something you did at the time. My grandpa got back, all snazzy in his uniform, and was told she'd married and where she lived. He showed up to say hello and there she was, a bloody mess.

He took her to the doctor, got her cleaned up, and convinced her to divorce the jerk. A year later, they were married, but her ex kept showing up to harass them. The story we'd always been told is that her ex finally got the hint and moved away. The story my grandpa told me, in a lucid moment, was basically this: "I hated him for what he'd done to her. I knew he'd never leave her alone. I made sure he'd never bother her or any other woman again".

I think my grandpa confessed to offing his wife's ex-husband. What you have to keep in mind is that this was a very rural part of the Midwest in the 1940s. Hill justice happened.

Doctor Visits Took A Horrible Turn factsShutterstock

38. Staying Mum

I was 35 when my mother finally admitted to me that she'd been lying about who my birth father was. She waited until after I'd reached out to his other children and we all thought we were siblings. He later confirmed I wasn't his. After that, she also refused to tell me who my biological father really was. It’s not something I can get over.

Anna May Wong FactsShutterstock

39. Blended Family

When my dad was about 18, he got into an argument with his younger brother, My uncle, a bit of a jerk now, about 15 at the time, ended the argument by telling him that their dad wasn’t his biological father. At that point, my dad confronted my grandma and the truth came out. The worst part was, the whole village knew…but not my dad.

Mad respect for my grandpa, though. He married a woman who already had a child in the 50s, which was quite controversial back then.

Family Secrets FactsShutterstock

40. Let’s Get Messy

My uncle had tried to end his life over a love triangle. He survived and left the country afterward. This was a huge hush-hush story and ironically, I heard it from my aunt, who was the woman with whom he was in love with. Yes, I’m from one of those countries where cousins can get married, but it is discouraged due to the obvious.

From what I was told, he changed into a bit of a religious freak afterward. And no one ever spoke of what happened ever again.

Anne Lister FactsShutterstock

41. Scar Tissue

The scars on an elder family member's wrist were not from a botched attempt on their own life. It was so much darker than all that. They were from her mom trying to “protect” herself and her kids from the approaching Red Army at the end of WWII in Germany.

Red armyShutterstock

42. Do I Know You?

My wife's mother's family (in rural Iowa) had a schism within the family around inherited farmland. So growing up, when she visited grandma for two weeks in the summer, she never knew about her second and third cousins living in that small town. My wife found out when we started using Ancestry and tracing family. Truly the biggest family feud.

Kit Harington factsShutterstock

43. The Nanny

I found out that the "nanny" I had when I was younger was actually my dad's attempted sister-wife. She soon found out how unhinged he was and dipped.


Disturbing homesShutterstock

44. It All Comes Out Eventually

Grandma admitted on her deathbed that her maiden name wasn't Asher (English), it was Oscher (Jewish). This was confirmed by DNA testing my dad. My grandfather was off-the-boat Irish, so my dad spent his entire life thinking he was half English and half Irish. The DNA test said 49% Irish and 50% Ashkenazi, so grandma was as ethnically Jewish as can be.

In retrospect, my dad and grandma had a set of about 20 Yiddish words that they'd use in casual conversation, but we always assumed that was just a Queens thing.

Tsar Nicholas II factsPixabay

45. Modern Times

Due to 23&Me, my fad learned that his recently deceased father was not his biological father. It wasn’t a situation related to my grandma cheating either, it was a sperm donation. So, they knew this was the case his entire life. Pretty crazy they never told him, and his parents did not pass until he was ~65 years old. Talk about a curveball.

Bottled-Up SecretsShutterstock

46. Part Of The Family

My aunt wasn't my grandfather's child. He met my granny when her child, my aunt, was a very sick infant; she had polio and wasn't expected to survive. My granddad married my granny so she could get on his insurance and move to an area that had proper medical support. In fact, my aunt was the first infant to survive open-heart surgery at Yale New Haven Hospital.

Although she had to be in leg braces most of her childhood, she had a great (although not long enough) life. My granddad loved her like she was his own, and I never knew until she went to her biological dad's funeral when I was a teenager.

Marquis De Sade FactsShutterstock

47. Karma Wins In The End

About a month ago, my mother-in-law's 88-year-old sister revealed on her deathbed that her husband's best friend was actually the father of all four of her children. ALL FOUR OF THEM. Her husband was a horrific grade-A jerk by all accounts, though. While everyone was shocked at the revelation, no one was actually saddened by this news.

Paranormal Hospital FactsShutterstock

48. Everything You Thought You Knew Is Wrong

I found out when I was 35 that my mother left my father, not the other way around. It was hard to reconcile all of the judgment I held for decades. I was born with two clubbed feet, and while it didn't actually play a part in their separation, I of course had horrible feelings that my dad didn't want to raise a disabled child so he bounced and raised another family instead.

My whole life my father avoided seeing or speaking with me. I tried to have a relationship, but when I called, he would hand the phone to his wife after just a few minutes so she could get the catching up chit-chat. When my mother would try to arrange visits, he always pushed it down the road. My mother did not hide it or lie to me. She would tell me about it.

He had a drinking problem, and they tried to move from Southern California to Northern California when I was around two. He went back down to get his work van and tools. and didn't come back. I think she thought that I understood the underlying dynamics, but it wasn't until I was 35 that I mentioned him leaving her and she corrected me and filled in some blanks.

Sometimes family history gets told like that. She did a stellar job in her position as a single mother with a kid who needed extensive surgery. However, she also spiraled into depression, but that's a whole different story. Reflecting on this, it's amazing that I'm the positive-thinking, happy person that I am. My father is gone now, but I was able to visit him during hospice and forgive him.

Maria Felix FactsShutterstock

49. Nothing But The Tooth

One day, I started having incredibly bad problems with my teeth. Like, spontaneous abscess that resulted in multiple root canals. My dentist did some looking into what the cause might be and found some really odd abnormalities with my incisors roots and nerves, which were the teeth that had been afflicting me. So he sent out requests for help to a couple of professors he knew in the field.

When my next appointment came up, my dentist got really quiet before he told me the awful truth. He paused for a bit before verbally stumbling about. It turns out that what was happening with my teeth was a classic sign of inbreeding and he was super uncomfortable giving me the news. I brought it up to my mom and she just was like: "Oh well yeah, didn't you know?"

What the heck?? Of course I didn't know!!! Turns out that not very far back in the family tree, several of my relatives decided that it was a good idea to get married to one another, and no one bothered to mention it...ever. The small town where I live is 85% my relatives, no joke. I hadn't even met all of them, that's how many there are. Before this, I had made a big point of going far away from my hometown to meet my husband because I was afraid of having children with someone that might be my cousin.

Only to find out five years after we had been married that I was in fact a product of inbreeding. Thank god, my husband and I are still not related at all.

Dante Alighieri FactsShutterstock

50. Spilling The Beans

We went to my grandmother's for Christmas dinner like we did every year. This night, though, my uncle on my dad’s side drank too much and kind of hinted that he had an affair with my mother. A couple of months and two DNA tests later…we found out my sister is actually his daughter. My dad never spoke to his brother again, and of course, my parents got divorced. And I needed a lot of therapy... and chocolate. Gosh, we are trash!

Family Secrets FactsUnsplash

Sources:  Reddit, ,

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