Every family has its own secrets, and some of them are darker than others. Unforunately, not all secrets are kept untold. People reveal the time they discovered a dark family secret. Content has been edited for clarity purposes.
"My grandfather had gnarly scars on both his forearms, often wearing long sleeves and getting annoyed when we as kids asked what they were from. The guy was huge having been an agricultural laborer and railway porter, super kind and gentle, a pacifist too. He used to tell us loads about how pointless war and fighting were. When we asked about his scars, he always told us he got them 'doing some work', we assumed a pre-war farming accident or something involving a train. He rarely talked about World War ll, which was not unusual for his generation where I grew up.
After he died ages ago, we spoke to a chap he had served in the army with (World War ll, British Infantry) and he told us the actual story behind his scars. Apparently, he and three of his mates had been captured by the Japanese, knowing that this was a really, really bad thing, Grandad had managed to get free and somehow grab a machete; he was very strong and about six feet tall.
His friend said he killed five Japanese soldiers, one of who had a sword and blade of some kind, getting pretty badly hurt in the process. After that and recovery, he was assigned to guard a medical facility and didn't do any more frontline fighting. Apparently previously, he had been quite good at fighting. His friend credited that with his pacifism, apparently, it was a bit visceral. His comrade used the term 'messy', but being British this was likely an understatement. He'd told pretty much nobody about this, not even his wife.
I know some of this is likely to be embellished because grandad had just died. I think a bayonet is more likely than a sword, but I like to think of him winning a sword fight against a katana-armed enemy, using just a machete."
"My great grandmother hated me. I was an 'illegitimate' child and my parents split when I was three. When my dad got his girlfriend pregnant, my great grandmother threatened to cut him out of her life if 'he didn't marry this one.' My father married my stepmother, who was a single mother, and my great grandmother was fantastic to my (step) brother and my sister but flat out refused to have anything to do with me.
One time, I spent Christmas with the family, and I don't remember this, but I came home crying to my mum asking why she wouldn't talk to me. Apparently the entire four days I was there she ignored me while cuddling my brother and sister as much as she could because they lived in another country by then.
I wasn't included in her will, the only grandchild not included, out of about seven grandchildren, and many more great-grandchildren. I didn't find out any of this until after she died. Although my dad took some of his inheritance and passed it on to me, along with a few heirlooms, keeping up the pretense she didn't hate me up into my 30's. I was so expunged from her life that I'm only just getting to meet family members now who had no idea I existed, I met a cousin earlier this year, and I'm 36.
My dad, siblings, and nana were forbidden to speak about me to other family members, so the few who met me when I was a baby had forgotten I existed. My sister only told me all of this a few years ago, though she'd known my great grandmother hated me from when we were kids because my grandmother would speak very hatefully about me behind my back. My nana's partner confirmed it a couple of months ago."
"My wife's dad passed away over 10 years ago. Growing up she had two half brothers. Her mom had been married twice before she married my wife's dad.
Last year during all the initial COVID lockdown, she decided to finally go through all the family photos that she had gotten from her parents over the years. Her mom has moved into a memory care unit for dementia a couple of years ago.
She started identifying family members and reaching out to them on Facebook, offering them copies of photos they were in if they wanted them. But there was one picture of her and a boy who appeared to be a couple of years older that she couldn't identify. So she started asking the various relatives that she had contacted. One of them told her that he was her half-brother. A half-brother she had no idea that she had until that very moment when she instantly remembered a comment her dad had made when she was very, very young.
Turns out he lived 20 minutes away from us. She found him on Facebook and reached out to him. They spent several days texting back and forth. Turns out his mother wanted nothing to do with my wife's dad after they were divorced and didn't want him around his son. Rather than fight her, my wife's dad just stopped seeing his boy.
After corresponding for a couple of weeks, he and his son stopped by our house to say 'Hello.' We all get along very well. He and I text pretty often because we both have ordered Bronco's jerseys that we are waiting for. My wife and he text at least weekly as well.
We've been out to dinner with them and are talking about going on a trip together soon."
"I went to a friend from college's funeral about a month ago. He passed young, in his early 30s and had a wife and three small kids with the youngest two being twins born early this year. We were close in school but only casually kept touch over the years so I had only met his wife a few times. I got to the funeral and was surprised how well she seemed to be holding it together, but figured everyone handles grief differently. I offered my condolences and then ended up chatting with a few other college friends after the service. The widow came up to the group to let us know that we were invited to go have a drink with her and a few others if we wanted as her parents would be watching her girls for her. I was going to decline until she stated she really wanted all of us to join because she needed to let us all know what she found out over the last week while going through our friend's things to try and get her and the girls' life organized.
Apparently, the reason she wasn't very upset was that her husband had been leading a double life for the past 13 plus years. He had always claimed his dad had owned a trucking company and then sold it leaving him really well off. Based on his spending habits, this all seemed true. He also had claimed his mom passed while we were in school, that he was an only child. After he left the college I attended during our sophomore year, he would post pictures of Vanderbilt and claimed he transferred there to finish school. He also said he got a master's degree from a different prestigious school. I had worked with him briefly a few years ago in a professional capacity when his company reached out to possibly work with my company so based on his role there, all of that totally sounded like it could be true.
Turns out none of it was. His mom and sister attended the funeral, the mom all of us, including his wife, thought had died when we were in college and the sister none of us knew existed. She had no idea he told people she was dead. She thought her brother and his wife eloped and with her living out of state, the brother would make up excused why his wife didn't visit when he did. He had also told us his sister was his cousin so we were all shocked by that too. He even went so far as to show his wife an obituary of his 'dead' mom when they were dating. His wife thought the whole time that his actual mom was his aunt and that his sister was his cousin.
The school stuff was also all fake. He apparently transferred to an online school and got a bachelor's, but would send us pictures from Vanderbilt's campus. The trucking company his dad owned was real, but actually went bankrupt and was liquidated. The trust fund he told his wife that he set up for the girls didn't exist. He had told her he didn't have students loans but actually had $78k still, he had maxed out multiple credit cards she didn't know existed, and on top of all of this, he was cheating on her with multiple other women. Taking them for fancy dinners, to the casino, getting hotel rooms for them.
Needless to say, she was livid and she was very happy to find out she wasn't the only one her husband had been lying to all these years. The whole thing seriously felt like a movie. I didn't realize stories like this actually happened in real life. I am still sad my friend passed as he seem like a friendly good guy in the time I knew him but I also realize many of us never met the real him. Now the rest of us are doing what we can to help his wife and his girls."
"I came back from college when my grandpa passed away and visited the store to pick up some textbooks I had ordered for the next semester. When I went to pay for them, the gal who owns the local indie bookstore told me my grandpa left all of his donated book credit in my name. I don't cry in front of people much but when I tell you I had a full-on ugly cry meltdown in that store.
I was dyslexic as a kid and my grandpa most likely had some learning disabilities growing up as well (dyslexia wasn't recognized at that time), but that didn't stop him from always encouraging me to read. He would read along with me as a kid, and then when I got older he read books I was assigned in school, and whatever trendy novels I was interested in at the time so we could talk about them. We always went to the bookstore to buy them.
When his health was failing he couldn't really read anymore so he did his last donation and ask if he could pass his store credit on to me. He had a lot of books to donate. When I say a lot, I mean he read a book a day after he retired and had been donating to the store for 20 plus years, add on him donating all of the favorite books he had kept over the years and you basically get a discount for life.
I go in whenever I visit family now and the owner joke that I’ll never truly be able to use all the credit he had saved up."
"My parents saw me as an investment and kept a secret journal of how much they spent on me my entire life. What I got for Christmas, birthday gifts, movie tickets, even when they gave me quarters for the arcade. Even after I got married, they would track anything they gave us. Also, gifts for the kids, things they bought for our house renovations (my dad got a military discount and they even noted the reduced amount by percentage in the ledger), etc.
When we cleaned out her house, I found my mom's diaries and a handwritten ledger with my name on it detailing everything. She also really didn't like my wife, she repeatedly wrote that I married someone that she felt was from a lower class. She also had multiple notebooks detailing what to do when she passed that we found throughout the house stating that my wife, her family, and friends were not to enter the house after she died or to have any of her possessions. Jokes on her.
It took us six months to clean out their three properties. My family never showed up until the day of the final property auction. My wife and her family helped me clean out three packed properties and sell everything we didn't want. Completely changed my entire view of my parents and their love for me."
"When I was 16, my mother and I were living in poverty. The lease on our home was coming up and wasn't going to be renewed. The new landlords wanted to make some desperately needed repairs on the house, as it had never once passed a single inspection from the day we moved in. We had nowhere else to go.
Out of the blue, my mother's uncle (my great-uncle) showed up and offered to let us come live with him. He'd been my mother's favorite uncle when she was growing up, but they'd lost touch before I was even born. It turns out, he lived only a few short hours away, and was in need of some live-in help.
His health was bad and deteriorating. My mother took care of him, driving him to doctor's appointments, helping him after surgeries, etc. For years, she did this and in return he took care of not only her, but me and even some friends of mine. He and my mother were the kindest, most generous souls I'd ever met, and for the longest time, I told everyone he was like the father I never had.
He died right after Christmas some 14 years later (within a week of my 30th birthday, as it happened). He went into the hospital on my birthday, and less than a week later he was gone. It was one surgery too many, and he didn't have the strength to pull through.
I stayed with my mother for as long as I could, trying to help her figure out what her next steps would be. He'd had a will, leaving her everything. His house, his bank accounts, all of it. But the will was gone. No one knew where it went. We searched high and low, but never found it.
What I did find, however, was a marriage certificate. My mother was married to her uncle and had been for over a decade.
You see, he went into the hospital for surgery one day, and in the process, the doctors realized he'd need a second surgery. Instead of keeping him under, they had to let him come out of it and become coherent enough to consent to the second surgery. As his niece, my mother didn't have a say in that.
Why not simply make her power of attorney?
He had amazing health insurance and retirement. By becoming his wife, she was able to be put on his health insurance. She was getting older (they were roughly a decade apart in age) and needed healthcare, dental, and vision. She was also the beneficiary of his life insurance after his death, as well as his social security and veteran's benefits, thus ensuring that she was taken care of long after he passed.
I was never able to call him my step-father in life because I never knew. My mother was always afraid I wouldn't understand or that I'd judge. Their relationship wasn't physical. I understand why they didn't tell me because I hesitate to tell other people. It's not a dark secret or anything I'm ashamed of, because I knew the nature of their relationship wasn't like that. But it's definitely something that requires explanation and it's hard to tell how someone's going to take it."
"So my mother's father was career military, supposedly, and left when she was nine years old, never to be seen again. I never met the guy and pretty much resented him. Fast forward to 2003 and my mom gets a letter in the mail about some kind of life insurance policy from a Chaplain with a last name we'd never heard of before.
My mom does some digging and finds out that this guy is actually her father. Except he had a totally different last name than her family's. And he was supposedly a catholic priest and was a chaplain in the army for decades. As in the kind that was supposed to be celibate.
So yeah turns out my grandparents met during World War ll and afterward ended up having four kids together while grandpa had a whole other life on the east coast. My grandmother died a few years before so we were never able to get the full story but it's kinda wild that there's just a whole other family that no one knew about."
"After my grandma passed away, we found her old medical files. She had undergone a psych evaluation in the late ’70s and it turns out she had schizophrenia. In the transcription of the interview, she talked about demons trying to convince her to do things. And if she ever did anything bad, it was only because the demons told her to.
She was the sweetest, kindest, and most loving person I’ve ever met. I knew my mom had a difficult childhood with her but I didn’t really get it until I read that file.
I don’t think she ever got treatment, to be honest. She always was a little quirky. She’d talk to herself at the kitchen table and sometimes walked sideways down hallways. I had no idea how she lived with it, but she did until age 82."
"My grandfather killed someone driving under the influence when he was younger, and it haunted him for the rest of his life. Later, he 'accidentally' shot himself 'while cleaning his weapon' but my dad and uncle were conveniently spending the night at their grandma's house that night. It wasn’t until he was a little older that my dad realized it was a suicide attempt.
He quit drinking right before I was born, and the person I knew was a complete 180 from who he was when he drank. He was born to be a grandpa, and I’m glad we got to see that side of him after the terrible experience he’d caused himself and others for so many years."
"I found this all out when I asked my father about the history of mental illness in our family when I was diagnosed bipolar last year. He said we had none but my aunt said, 'Don’t you remember when mom went away?'
My dad and aunts didn’t know what had happened exactly. My oldest aunt, let's call her 'Mary,' she would have been 12 or so who remembers the most. She said it all started when grandma had come home from work when they were making berry smoothies in a blender and grandma was convinced that it was my toddler uncle’s brains in the blender, despite him sitting there in the kitchen with them, alive and well. She started screaming at them about how evil they were and shaking him and trying to get him to 'Wake up,' even though he was crying and screaming. At some point she grabbed a knife and was chasing them with it.
Mary somehow got all the little ones and went to a neighbor’s house way down the road (middle of the country) until their dad came home. Mary met him at the driveway and explained what happened and he told her to stay at the neighbor’s until he came back. They were there a few days when someone from the state came and got them. My dad and the two older girls were put in foster care and the two younger ones went to some family.
Almost a year went by and then, one day, they were all brought back together and given back to grandma, who they hadn’t heard from the entire time, but their dad was just gone. Turns out after he put her away, he just moved away and left them all. Their grandma refused to talk about what happened and they all eventually found out through another family member."
"I took care of my dad before he passed, and also handled his finances afterward. Come to find out my parents were divorced well before I would have been conceived. That plus the fact that I have blonde hair and blue eyes and all my siblings have dark hair and brown eyes (I am the youngest of four). It pretty much got the ball rolling and I started to ask questions of my mother and other family members. My mom initially denied it, but after I came back with ancestry results showing another man was my biological father, she came clean."
"My aunt had a baby when she was 14 and my grandparents sent her away to a convent until she gave birth. They took the baby away from here and it was given up for adoption. Mind you, this was in the late ’60s.
By a strange turn of events, my mom ran into this long lost daughter in a Costco 40 plus years later and now she comes to all our family events. She couldn’t be sweeter. She never got to meet her mom (my aunt) who was the funniest lady. She is very close with her younger half-siblings though."
"My great aunt and uncle never had kids so they treated me and my siblings like their grandkids. My aunt died ten years ago this year. So I was looking up her gravesite so I could visit and saw a suggested link to a page about the grave of her child. I was very confused because I always just assumed they didn't want kids. Turns out they had a son who only lived to be a few months old. Made me sad to think that they did want kids and either couldn't or wouldn't after their son died."