Not every family is picture-perfect. In fact, almost every family has its dysfunctional moments. These family secrets, however, can either make anyone feel grateful that their family isn't that bad, or feel less alone in their dark ancestry. Either way, when the buried truth finally come to the surface, the result can be equally mind-blowing and painful. These people share the darkest secrets their families have hidden over the years, and how it all came to light.
All content has been edited for clarity.
It Was More Than A Dislike
“My Mom told me this over dinner a few years back like it was no big deal. When I was six, my grandma (on my mother’s side) wanted me to sleep over at her place for the weekend. It’s noteworthy that she never really liked me. I remember her as a cold witch (in a six-year-old’s brain). Her housekeeper was nicer to me than she was.
My Mom said no, she wouldn’t let me sleep over at her mom’s.
Granny got really angry, saying something along the lines of ‘you will regret this.’
So she didn’t hear from her for a while and went to the house to check up on her. Granny had suicided herself with sleeping pills.
Here is where it gets creepy. My mom found her diary and her last entry were things like, ‘granddaughter (me) is rotten,’ ‘needs to be killed’ and that it’s her ‘job to do so.’ My name was in her calendar for that weekend. Basically my grandma wanted to kill me when I was six. I’m really glad my mom trusted her gut and said no to the deadly sleepover.
My mom said she killed herself out of spite, loneliness (grandpa had died some months prior to all this), and so everyone would be sooo sorry for not giving her more attention, regretting not being nicer to her. I was my mother’s blood and my mother was her rotten apple. I’m her fault. Something she wanted to correct. Also, I guess she just wanted to push a knife through my mom’s heart for one last time.
It turns out she had some kind of mental health issue. Assuming from the bags of meds my mother carried out, probably a form of schizophrenia. Also she was a hypochondriac and we suspected Münchhausen syndrome.
She hated me because I came from her daughter’s womb, I guess. She has been a horrible abusive mother to my mom and a despicable human being. There are so many stories my mom told me that made me shudder. The one about wanting to suicide proxy her grandchild just stands out.
Also, same grandma took my mother to a children’s doctor who was known to have euthanized kids during WW2 (in Nazi Germany). When my mom found out as a grown up, she asked her mother why on earth her mother would take her to THAT doctor and her answer was a cold, ‘Why else do you think the waiting room was so empty all the time?’
Creepy effing Nazi granny.”
At Least It’ll Pay For Therapy
“My grandma and her 9 siblings are very close. So, when they each got a call saying a family member had died and that they had inherited a large sum of money, they thought it was a scam. Turns out their very strict and religious father had a secret affair and an additional child, Marie.
Well Marie, now in her 80s, had passed away and so had her husband. They had no children. So the closest relatives were my grandma and her siblings. And that’s how 10 religious people in their 70s and 80s learned their dad had cheated on their mom and they had a half-sister they never got to meet.
Because the siblings’ father was very strict, no misbehaving allowed, he made an impact on them. And now the same man is suddenly a sinner that had an affair. It’s something the siblings think about often, it makes them sad. I mean it ruined their picture of their dad. They question every single memory they have. And because they are old and he is dead, they can’t ask him any questions.”
At Least It Ended Well
“My grandmother was addicted to those speed diet pills in the late 1960s and had a collection of wigs that she used to impersonate other people to pick up their prescriptions. She used to stay up for days on end ironing the carpets and plucking holes in her clothes.
She had gone through a lot in life by that point. Her mother died when she was 6, and her dad remarried 6 months later to a woman who used to starve her and only let her eat leftovers. She married at 17 to a man in his late 30s to just get out of the house. Her husband, my grandfather, committed suicide in 1961 (when my mom was only one years old), leaving her alone with very little money and 4 kids.
She had wigs because she lost her hair in the aftermath of her husband dying from stress. She still had them when I was a kid in the 90s and I used to wear them for fun, although I didn’t learn about their true purpose until a long dinner on a family holiday many years later. She told her entire life story from the start and every detail has stuck in my mind. She stopped the pills cold turkey when she saw the police at the house of one of her neighbor’s (one of the women she’d been impersonating). It scared her straight.
To look at her later in life, you would never have guessed she went through anything (the diet pills weren’t even the end of it. She had a rough time with the menopause later on, got pregnant in the early stages, which then sent her a bit off kilter and she was sectioned because she kept sticking her head in the oven and the doctors didn’t properly understand why at the time). She was the sweetest little old lady you’d ever meet, although she had a wicked dry sense of humor. All of my best memories growing up were with her. I was always the awkward, weird gay kid and she let me be myself, be creative, dress up; she was honestly my best friend. She died surrounded by her family in 2014 in her 80s.”
His Mom Is A Hero
“My mom had me at 14. My father is a child abuser who was dating my grandma.
He ended up running – aside from what happened with my mom, he was a suspect in another incident that happened around the same time and he was also still on parole from something that happened years earlier (my grandma didn’t know that of course).
The cops caught up to him a few days later, he tried to outrun them, and then shot himself when he realized he was caught. It seems so stupid, I mean my mom and grandma were able to tell the police exactly who he was, where he lived, etc. So I think the total lack of sense it made contributed to my fear that one day I might suddenly have this inner compulsion to snap and do something just as stupid. Or maybe he was just a complete moron in addition to being a total scumbag.
I’m doing OK now. There was a period after I first found out that I was terrified I had his DNA that would eventually unleash itself out of the blue. At the time I had an offbeat little friendship with a 11-12 year-old-girl whose mom lived in the apartment next to me. We’d play video games and stuff and on rare occasions I’d watch her if her mom had some emergency, and basically overnight I became scared to death to be around her and that I’d hurt her.
But I had multiple people telling me that things don’t really work that way, and in time I stopped worrying about it.
And of course it was super upsetting knowing what had happened to my mom, but she basically said that I was the best thing that ever happened to her and she’d have gone through far worse things if I was the result. So with her putting it to me like that, I think I handled that aspect of things pretty well. She was the most amazing person I’ve ever known.”
He Did What?
“A few years ago, one of my Dad’s cousins did one of those DNA kits. A few weeks later she was contacted and told that there were several close relatives in their database that aren’t listed on the family tree she made. It turns out that my Great Grandfather faked his death in a life insurance scam and then started a new family on the other side of the country. He never got in contact with my Great Grandmother or his children with her (my Grandfather and his sister). It’s kind of crazy because he only passed away a few years before this all came to light.
His mother (my Great Great Grandmother) was the beneficiary, so she got all of his money.
Everyone who knew my Great Grandmother has said that there is no way she knew he was alive. The family is split on whether or not his mother (who got the money) knew.”
She Put Her Foot Down After That
“My dad once found a mummified human foot just chilling in a trunk in his basement.
My grandfather was an orthopedic surgeon who was stationed in New Guinea during WW2 and by all accounts was never quite the same after the war. Our best guess regarding the foot is that it belonged to one of his patients and either had some sort of abnormality my grandfather found interesting, or he was just super proud of the amputation job he did.
My dad and his buddy, who were 12 or 13 at the time, naturally decided that the best course of action was to hang the foot from the front porch of the girl they were crushing on. And apparently no one in town batted an eye over it other than thinking it was a good prank.”
In The Middle Of The Night?
“My family secret is that my grandpa was an addict and was eventually cast out of the family.
My aunt woke up one night to find him in the house… Talking to a real estate agent. He snuck in and tried to SELL THEIR HOUSE while they were asleep. He also ‘double mortgaged’ their house, so he got pretty much all of my Nan’s income, meaning he basically used her income to pay off a loan he took out on the house that was already mortgaged. He did all of this so he could fuel his addiction.
When my Nan tried to move the family away from him, she realized she had almost no money due to this. But the bank director said it was okay because men are supposed to control the bank account. She was stuck there because of him, and he was leeching off their money and there was nothing she could do about it.”
Yeah, That’s Not Normal
“My grandfather had a literal ‘crazy aunt who lives in the attic.’ His father’s sister had some sort of mental illness, and they were apparently worried about how that would look for the family, so they locked her in the attic of his boyhood home Jane Eyre-style and basically just kept her fed and otherwise ignored her. I found out about this when he briefly mentioned it a few years ago like it was an entirely normal thing to do with a family member.”
A Secret That Hurts To Hide
“My sister was touched by a family member. We don’t know if I was because I have no memories before middle school and have completely blocked my childhood. I was either groomed or inappropriately touched, because I was in the same circumstances with my sister (alone with family member, isolated for special treatment, etc). I can only remember screaming and crying every time he came to pick us up to take one or both of us somewhere (and my parents still sent us off anyway).
It came out when I was in high school because my sister attempted suicide. My sister had therapy and I did not receive anything. My mother swore us to secrecy because it would ‘kill’ my father to know something like that happened to us. So my mother enabled a child abuser to protect the feelings of her husband. It destroyed our lives and only in recent years as grown adults have we each started to pick up the pieces and heal. To this day only my mother knows. My sister goes along with this notion of protecting our father. I ended up distancing myself significantly from my parents as part of the healing process.
By the way, my sister and I were still forced to attend family events after this where he was present. I think my sister got to skip a few. The last time I saw him was a wedding 15 years ago and he followed me around the entire reception like a dog in heat, making these weird noises at me that he did when I was younger.
My mother enabled our abuser. The damage done by the abuse has been long lasting and significant, but the abandonment by our mother is the part that inflicted the most pain. I have never trusted anyone in my entire life because of that.
Outside of my mother, sister, and therapist, I’ve never shared this.”
It’s A Small World
“My father’s parents both died in the ’90s. Around 5-10 years ago, I did a ’23 and Me’ test, mostly for kicks and to look out for any health issues. Last year I was contacted by someone through the service who was trying to find blood relatives because both of her parents had been adopted as infants, and we had a pretty strong genetic connection.
Long story short, my grandfather had an affair in the 1950s and fathered twins. My aunt and uncle were pretty floored to find out they have half-siblings. (My father died 4 years ago from suicide, so he never knew.)
To get even weirder, my mother grew up with these twins after they had been adopted. She went to school with the twins and they lived nearby. She was friends with my father’s half-siblings decades before she married him.
Small Catholic world in those days.”
Why She Couldn’t See Her Grandfather
“My mother’s father came into my life when I was around 5.
I was in my father’s custody, but had visitation with my mom’s side every weekend, mostly with my mom and her mother. My mother had me very young, and at that age I had already known she was a heavy addict (clean as of last year, though!) and had done bad things to me and in front of me. I still loved her, as she was my mom and I was just a kid. What I didn’t understand was why I wasn’t supposed to tell my dad that she’d been taking me to see her father.
My dad grew suspicious when I’d started saying stupid stuff that my grandpa been teaching me (things along the lines of ‘Daddy, I can’t do that, I’m a girl, I’m too weak/stupid/useless for that.’) And then I let it slip that I’d been seeing my maternal grandfather. My dad was so mad. All of my mom’s family was furious. I never knew why.
Then, when I was 15 I learned that he came back into my life so suddenly because he had been in jail for 12 years. I had known he was an abusive father and husband and had forced my Nana into marrying him after he assaulted her, but didn’t know that he went to jail because he had been cheating on my Nana with the 16-year-old babysitter. When he found out the babysitter had a boyfriend, he confronted the boyfriend in front of the girl and shot him point blank dead in front of her. I feel absolutely horrible for that girl and hope she’s doing well and has gotten therapy for that.
Now, my grandpa is a pastor, has custody of my younger brother, and constantly lectures me about how I’m going to burn in eternal fire for being a lesbian. For context, I’ve never killed anyone…. but I did finesse him out of $400 and moved across the country.
He’s dying of some disease now. My sincerest wish is that when his time comes, he’s alone and unloved. That man deserves nothing and I hate the person my little brother is becoming because of him. My grandpa tried to keep my youngest sister (she’s about to turn 2) from getting adopted by a loving, stable couple because they’re both men.
I called and told him that if he even so much as blinks in her direction, I’ll let the cops know how many weapons he has. My baby sister is very happy with her dads now, and I’m so relieved one of my mom’s six crotch goblins finally has a stable and loving home. I hope to meet her one day when she’s older.”
Cruel And Unusual Punishment
“My Aunt and Uncle had their oldest daughter lobotomized because she was probably a bit mentally ill, was very combative with them and was in her teens and becoming interested in sleeping around. This was in the late 1960’s. I was born in 1964, so it may have been a few years earlier. It was during the whole hippie thing. So at least 1967. My father never spoke to his brother again over this. We had no contact with them whatsoever when I was growing up. I never met my Aunt and Uncle until I went to my cousin’s wedding when I was a teenager. My Mom and Dad told me what had happened only a couple of years ago.
My Mother said they were very pretentious, social climbing type of people. Their daughter was probably 15 or 16 years old when it went down. She absolutely had issues, but what they did pretty much ended her life. My Mom and Dad told me that she eventually was put in a home/hospital, where she died as a middle-aged woman. My Uncle Billy was a real dirtbag.”
Some Wedding Gift
“When my great grandmother (maternal) died, my great grandfather went berserk and forced their daughter to take her place. She had to ‘perform all wifely duties,’ as it was explained to me.
When my grandma married into this family and discovered what was going on and how her sister-in-law was being horribly abused, she confronted the entire family and tried to help her, but they ostracized her and told her to mind her business because it was a ‘family thing that didn’t involve her.’
My grandma was a real savior type, very nurturing, but not very capable of taking on an entire messed up family by herself (my grandpa was a monster too, it should be noted) so she did what she could by providing refuge and support for her sister-in-law.
Eventually this poor, abused woman met a wonderful man and they got engaged, but at her wedding, my great grandfather lured her away from the party ‘to apologize,’ and when they were both sitting in his car, he shot himself in the head and slumped on top of her. At. Her. Wedding. Her marriage was stable and happy though, and she was such a sweet lady. They had kids and she stayed very close with my grandma until she passed a few years ago.
She also collected Barbies and I loved visiting her as a child. That side of my mom’s family is riddled with stories of abuse and severe mental illness and I could write so much more, but this one is the one that was so horrific, I didn’t even know about it until two years ago when my mom finally started opening up to me about her family history.”
The Real Truth Came Out
“My dad tells us that whenever he smells nail polish remover, he feels extremely sick because when he was a toddler he drank his sister’s nail polish remover and went to hospital. That was the story I knew until one night.
I was up late chatting with my younger brother in his bedroom talking about our dad, and my brother tells me about a conversation he was either part of or overheard.
Apparently, according to my dad, when his parents (my grandparents) were going through the Great Depression, they lost everything (as many families did). However, it affected my grandmother especially horribly. Something must have snapped in her mind and she became a little bit insane.
The real reason the smell of nail polish remover was so horrible to my dad was because one day my grandmother had decided that feeding my dad the nail polish remover as an infant in a crib was an easy way to kill him. It was only my grandfather rushing in and stopping her that stopped my dad from dying.
It makes me wonder what sort of behaviors I might be prone to, given that some traits are more prevalent every other generation.”
How He Really Died
“My grandfather from my mother’s side died way before I was born. I was always told that he fell off the balcony and died.
A year or two ago I found out what really happened. When I was I think 13, my mom was telling the story to my uncle’s girlfriend while we (my mom, uncle’s girlfriend and I) we’re sitting at the table. I was just minding my business, while my mom was whispering to my uncle’s girlfriend. At some point I heard my mom tell something about her dad, and I started listening to what she was saying.
She explained that her dad was an addict, and could be pretty abusive at times. When he got wasted, he would sometimes threaten to kill himself. On the night before my mom’s birthday, after he put her and her siblings to bed, he got trashed and threatened to throw himself off the balcony. He stood on the edge of the balcony, on the other side of the railing. My grandma tried to calm him down, and to get him safe inside. It worked, my grandfather calmed down. But instead of getting inside, he accidentally let go of the fence and fell off the balcony. He probably thought that if he landed in a correct way he wouldn’t break too many bones or something, so he tried to move while in the air.
It didn’t work and he died.
So yeah, when my mom woke up the next morning, on her birthday, her father was dead.
Some details may be wrong, it’s been, like I said, a year or two ago since I heard this story and frankly I’m too timid and kind of scared to ask my mom the whole story again because it’ll always be a sensitive topic.”