Growing up, I never understood quite how lucky I was to have a boring family (at least until I had already moved out!) and reading these 29 Reddit users’ stories about their family’s deep, dark secrets only serves to reaffirm me – because THEY CRAY!
“I married this woman a few years ago. After dating her a while, I could tell there was something strange about her family. She claimed that she didn’t know what part of the world her ancestors were from, didn’t know where her last name came from, her parents had blonde hair and blue eyes, but had Latino accents. I later found out their first language was Portuguese and they were from Brazil.
Anyway, about a year after we were married, she sat down with me and explained that her grandparents were avid Nazis who fled to Brazil just before the war ended. She obviously didn’t like for people to know this, and had a hard time finding a way to tell me. I didn’t really care. I told her that I loved her for who she was and it didn’t matter who her grandparents were, all that mattered was who she was.
Anyway, it seemed important for her that I meet her relatives in Brazil, and apparently, her parents went there to visit every few years. So we planned the most bizarre trip of my life. When you first arrive, nothing seems off about the colony. They speak Portuguese and German, they have jobs, they drive cars, they don’t stand out in any way except that they look different than other Brazilians. The colony is isolated, and the few locals who are around don’t seem to care of really quite grasp what’s going on.
But once you start talking to people, you realize that they are deeply disturbed and have a deep-seated hatred for anyone who is different from them, especially Jews. I remember one conversation I had with her great uncle, a man who, I kid you not, had a Hitler mustache.
‘If you are going to be a part of this family you have to understand what we are planning. This is not some sad, little nursing home for the Nazi way of life to die, it is merely an incubator.’”
2. Angry Venting
“Found out through an angry vent given by my mother, that most of my cousins aren’t legitimate, and most of my aunts had lied to their husbands about the true father of their children. Also found out that there was a very large niche of the family I had never met and that no one really admits to – because they’re all inbred.”
3. Premarital Sex
“When I first started dating my girlfriend, I was invited to her very conservative Catholic parents’ 25th wedding anniversary party. I was hanging out with her and her 24-year-old older brother afterwords, and she was talking about how her mom found her birth control earlier that week and lectured her about how wrong premarital sex was (we weren’t having sex). I quick did some mental math and said, ‘She shouldn’t talk since your brother’s birthday is in 5 months.’ They both looked at me with a crazy amount of shock on their faces. They had never figured that out.”
“My grandmother’s cousin married a man she met in college. They had a daughter and were married for maybe 40 years. 3 years ago, he passed with cancer. We were not shocked at this. After all, he was approaching 70 and had a bad form of cancer, and it was spreading fast. We were prepared for this.
What we weren’t prepared for was that after he passed, his wife found a journal of his which explained that for 35 years, he was having a another relationship with a man.
It was a shock to all of us. He was so committed to his wife, that he never left. But at the same time, it must have killed him to stay silent for such a long time.”
5. “Piece of crap award”
“Thought my parents divorced just as a mutual agreement but my father had an affair. He was a cop and slept with his partner’s wife. Up there for biggest piece of crap award. I was 6-years-old when this all happened, 19 now and just found out a couple months ago.
Father also hates me because I decided to get out of the Army after breaking both of my legs at airborne school. Found out he got out of the Marines for having flat feet that hurt. Aunt (his sister) told me that he drove from Georgia to Florida every weekend because he hated his time in the Marines so much. Tries to tell me I am a wuss and disowned me.”
6. “Her body was being donated to science…”
“A long time ago, back when I was still in middle school my mom’s best friend died. She wouldn’t tell me how she died. Only that it was sudden. When I asked why we weren’t going to the funeral she told me that there wouldn’t be one because ‘her body was being donated to science.’
I didn’t ask any more questions. That was the last time we ever talked about her.
Well, five months ago my mom handed me her phone to find the number for Domino’s and as I’m scrolling through her contacts I come across the phone number of the dead best friend. Biggest WTF moment of my life. The next day I called it from a pay phone at Waffle House and she picked up. I instantly recognized the voice and accent. She’s not dead. Second biggest WTF moment of my life.”
7. You got the hook-up
“My mom was born in Colombia and moved to the U.S. when she was 12. I never knew much about her family, and was told multiple variations of sugar coated stories by other family members whenever I tried to find out more about my family history.
I was already aware that the Italian side of my family (paternal) had ties to the mob in NJ and eventually moved to Miami where my parents would eventually meet. Through Google, I also found out that my grandfather was a snitch, ended up in the witness protection program after being implicated in a murder and being indicted for selling massive amounts of cocaine. Ok, I thought, I can deal with that knowledge. Crappy about the coke, but maybe my mom’s side wasn’t so bad?
Thanks to ancestry websites and Google, I soon discovered multiple newspaper articles from the 1980s that would indicate that my maternal Colombian grandparents were the leaders of a massive pot smuggling ring which, at the time, was referred to as the largest pot smuggling operations ever carried out in the U.S. Both my grandparents were sentenced to over 250 years each, but after that my trail ran cold and I do not know how or when they died.
Family rumors would have me believe that my grandfather died of a heart attack in jail soon after hearing that my grandmother was murdered in Colombia. My mom never talks about it and I don’t feel comfortable asking. Very few of my friends know about it, but I must say I find it ironic that my Italian paternal grandparents were coke dealers, while my Colombian maternal grandparents were prolific pot smugglers.”
8. “It was looked down upon”
“This happened in May of this year. I have a sister who is four years older than me and a half-brother who is 14 years older than me (from a different father).
My aunt, my mom’s sister, sent out an email to the entire family that vented about 60 years of hatred toward my mother. Right at the end of the email, my aunt clearly indicated that my mom had another kid that no one knew about and had given the kid up for adoption. Huge news to my family who knew nothing about this.
I asked my mom about this and found out that the father of the kid was my brother’s dad, but my mom and him weren’t married when this happened 45~ years ago, so it was looked down upon by others. My mom eventually married my brother’s father and had him, but that was a few years later. After they got a divorce, she got married to my dad about 8 years later.”
9. Dementia Confession
“My mom and I cared for her father as he deteriorated with old age. As his mind went he told stories from the war, from 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, would get drunk and assault her then call her mean names and 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 him.
A year later they were married. 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 killing 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 40s.”
10. “Mother knew best”
“My parents used to always joke about how ‘we picked the wrong boy at the hospital.’ I never thought much of it. A year ago (I’m now 17), they told me that when I was born in the almost exact time as a boy whose parents abandoned him. The boy was almost the same size as well. Now, you’d think that this would never happen, but I was born in China at a hospital that somehow mixed us two up. Essentially, they weren’t exactly sure if I was the son of my parents. My mom looked at the two of us and swore that I was the one, despite the nurses’ tags stating otherwise. Genetic tests were (relatively) expensive then and were refused by my mother. They didn’t care at the time since there was no parent to claim the other boy.
Now, I’m about to go off to college, and I have no intention of finding out whether or not I’m the biological son. Strange when I think about the other boy though. People always say I do look like my parents though, so I have little doubt that mother knew best.”
11. “Horse people”
“I found out that one of my ancestors was exiled from Russia for challenging an army officer to a duel (with swords) and winning. My ancestor worked in the czar’s stable, and the argument arose when the army officer insisted on riding my ancestor’s horse. The horse threw him off and the army officer shot it.
We’ve always been horse people.”
12. …well then
“My cousin is actually most likely my sister.”
13. Great great great uncle
“My grandmother has all the dirty little secrets but she’s too proper to spill anything. Until this one night when she told me about my grandfather’s (her husband’s) family…Essentially they were poor, living off the streets and trying to earn money during Australia’s gold rush. Anyways, the family had too many kids and not enough money so they sold one of their kids. He would’ve been my grandfather’s great uncle I suppose. She had kept it secret all this time.”
14. Atheist Priest
“My great uncle, who became a Catholic priest at a young age, came out to his parents as an atheist while in seminary. They threatened to disown him if he ever told anyone else, or if he left the seminary (They came from a small town near Boston; I guess it would have been social suicide back then). So he stayed, became an excellent priest, and apparently never told anyone until my dad asked him for advice when he was considering the priesthood as well. He swore my dad to secrecy until he (my great-uncle) was dead, because he was afraid of the impact it would have on his congregation if they found out.
I discovered all this about a year and a half ago, when my dad was extremely drunk and ranting against religion. Completely shook my view of my great-uncle and great-grandparents – they always sounded like the model family, and my uncle was an amazingly peaceful and humble man, didn’t stop working in the community until shortly before his death three years ago. If anything I think it made me respect him more, in the end.”
15. An On-Purpose Accident
“My uncle was pissed at my dad once, and decided to poke holes in all of his condoms. He was dating my mother at the time, and that is how I came about. I wasn’t supposed to know, but my uncle told me once when he was drunk. I am thankful he did it, but that was a pretty douche move.”
16. “Not table conversation”
“We had a family Christmas dinner a few years ago where my aunt and uncles from both sides were staying over at our house. There were probably 10 or 11 of us at the dinner table, and everyone is getting along well like we always do. My cousin, around 14 or 15 at the time, brings up something about how he laid a massive poop earlier that day. The kids laugh and the adults were like ‘that’s not table conversation.’ Then I jump in and say ‘haha yea, there’s things we don’t talk at the dinner table, like politics and illegitimate children.’ Every adult at the table drops their eyes to their plate and goes silent. I’m sitting there like uhhhh, what in the Woody Allen movie is so awkward about all this.
What I didn’t know is that my uncle had an illegitimate child many years ago and thats always been a point of contention between my aunt and him. They also had been arguing about that earlier in the day, and all the adults knew it. Hahah man, that was jokes. But seriously though, never make jokes about illegitimate children unless you are absolutely sure no one has one.”
17. Family Tree
“I recently learned that my mother is the child of an affair. And that my grandfather was illegitimate royal blood from Russia.”
18. “Pet name”
“My family is mostly Portuguese. It used to be completely so, but my paternal grandfather married a French woman. All my life my grandfather called her something in Portuguese that I couldn’t understand. Last year at Thanksgiving I found out it meant ‘The French Whore.’ My grandfather’s parents hated her and called her that. My grandfather decided to own it and made it a pet name.”
“I found out that my mom had an affair with my piano teacher. Not sure that my dad even knows…”
20. “Haunted her till the day she died”
“I am named after my great aunt. I was told by my mother and my grandmother that she died a few years before I was born in a terrible motorcycle accident. I was also told never to bring up my great aunt’s name around my great grandmother as the loss of her daughter still troubled her. Understandable. Nothing was ever mentioned or said and I grew up understanding only the barest of details about her and her passing. A little odd to not know much about the person I was named after, but, whatever.
When I was 24, my great grandmother passed away. At the meal after her wake, my great uncle gets drunk and starts letting all the family secrets fly out.
In passing, he mentioned my great aunt’s suicide and everyone at the table solemnly nodded their heads, except for me. ‘What suicide?’ I asked, ‘Gran told me she died in a motorcycle accident.’
‘Yeah, that was the cover story,’ he replied, ‘Your great grandmother was too embarrassed to tell anyone what really happened and she had to explain the closed-casket at her daughter’s funeral.’
I came to find out my great aunt was a lesbian and in love with a woman from her university. The other woman felt the same way and they hatched plans to figure out a way to be together without their parents knowing. When my great grandmother discovered their plans, she went mental and sent my great aunt half way across the country to separate the two. Little did she know that both women had made a suicide pact that if this were to happen, they would shoot themselves in the head, which they did. My great grandmother, in her homophobia, caused two young women, in love, to kill themselves.
Apparently she never forgave herself for what she did and it haunted her till the day she died.
After I found out the truth, I was first incredulous that my entire family had lied to me about the origin of my name, and second, I was deeply disturbed that to ease my great grandmother’s guilt and shame everyone accepted the lie.
Since then, I tell as many people the truth as are willing to listen so that my great aunt’s memory is served. Which is why I am posting this here. Every year since I found out, I have attended Pride. I donate to LGBT charities. I volunteer for LGBT organizations. All in her memory. If certain resources and volunteer organizations existed then as they do now, I might have a totally awesome, motorcycle-riding, great aunt to hang out with.”
21. Cross-Country Move
“The only reason my family is in California instead of New York is because my dad’s father wanted to follow his mistress (which nobody knew about until he died) to California, so he uprooted his entire family and made them move over here.”
22. Hungarian is a weird language
“All this time my family thought that my weird Hungarian last name meant ‘boat builder.’ Well, recently we were enlightened to learn that the closest meaning is actually ‘man who goes around the village at night and picks up the poop buckets from doorsteps.’”
23. “Dad doesn’t know”
“My dad doesn’t know that I know that I have two younger brothers and a sister.
I’m also trying to look for them.”
24. Mental Institution
“My grandfather had a younger brother who was mentally disabled. He pretty much took care of this brother completely until he was about 18, when he left for college. He came back and the brother had been put in a mental institution for months/years. No one had told my grandfather. My mother only recently found out about him.”
“My dad recently told me a family story of one of his older, distant relatives; we’ll call her Jill. This all happened some 70 years ago, a good 20 years before my father was born. It’s a bit unclear what actually happened, but I’ll try my best to piece it together.
Jill was a ‘plain’ looking girl who was raised on a small, country farm. Being a bit of a quiet tomboy, she didn’t go to school, but took care of the farm’s horses instead.
One day in her teenage years, Jill was in the stables when something spooked one of the horses. It reared up and kicked Jill in the face. Since there was very limited medical surgery, she ended up somewhat disfigured and scarred. She withdrew from much of society and lived solely on the farm as a hermit. Years of isolation pass and one day, Jill vanishes.
Perhaps her immediate family knew, but no extended family were ever told what happened. That is it, until they were notified of her death four years later. You see it turns out, Jill had run away and enlisted in the army. She had fought overseas in WWII, and had been killed.
Now that might not seem like much of a story, but keep in mind that only men fought in WWII. Jill had somehow managed to pose as a man for four years in the army without being detected, and it was her death that gave her away.
Considering the rest of my family history isn’t very exciting, I think it’s a pretty cool story.”
26. “And they all came to visit”
“So my grandfather is roughly 80 and has five kids (one of which is my father) all ranging from ages 40-50. Well about three years ago, he had a knock on the door, and it turns out that he had a family before he met my grandmother in Iowa and never told anyone.
He had married his first wife in California when he was sent out there in the Navy, and had two or three kids with her. He went and got himself deployed, and she apparently left with the kids while he was gone. Being the mid 1900s, he never found them, so he went on a cross country trip to New York for some reason. Luckily for me, he met my grandmother and had five kids, never telling anyone about his former life. From what we understood he graduated school, went into the Navy after working on some farm for a couple years, and tried to go to New York before getting snagged by my grandma in Iowa.
Well while he was doing this, apparently wife #1 was moving around the country as well, and every couple years, put those kids in adoption, busted them out of adoption, had three more kids from three different dads, but kept my grandpas same last name. So one of the original first kids went on a mission to find my grandpa, found him, and they all came to visit.”
27. Film Hobby
“An ex of mine was telling me that her father made films as a hobby of sorts and he actually had some success on the indie horror cult classic scene. So one day I was bored and decided to Google his name and found a bunch of his films. In most of them, the main character was my ex’s mother and she had at least one full frontal nudity scene in each. She was pretty attractive and I’m open-minded about nudity anyways, but I have to say I felt a little weird when I watched one of the sex scenes between the mother and the father. I couldn’t look her in the eyes after that point.”
28. “She didn’t tell her husband for almost 30 years…”
“My grandmother just confessed to me last week that she was a borderline alcoholic and at age 50 started going to AA by herself (at the synagogue so she wouldn’t run into her Catholic friends) and quit drinking then. No one even noticed because she had hid her drinking so well from her husband and 5 children. She didn’t tell her husband for almost 30 years and he was shocked. My mom, dad and brother all don’t know yet.”
“My grandfather and his brothers were arrested during Prohibition for making and distributing bootleg alcohol as part of a major underground project. I discovered this while doing a school project at the library in high school which gave me access to old newspaper archives. I obviously searched for my last name. The first hit matched my grandfather and his siblings.”
This article was first published by our partners at Petty Mayo