People Share Dark Family Secrets That Made Them Say ‘It All Makes Sense Now’
Family histories are often riddled with secrets. Some are small things, like family recipes that are not to be shared with outsiders, or inside jokes about a funny occurrence that took place at a family member’s wedding. Other family secrets are the kind that should never be told under any circumstances. These are secrets that could tear a family apart if the wrong person found out about them.
Hopefully, your family only has happy secrets. The people in the following stories shared their families’ deepest and darkest secrets that made them say, “It all makes sense now.”
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#1 Complicated Relations
The person I knew my whole life to be my sister is actually my biological mother. She was 16 years old when she had me and my grandma raised me as her daughter. It doesn’t end there. I was the product of abuse. To this day, I don’t know who my real dad is. My “sister” was sent to a boarding school when she was pregnant with me. She has no idea that I know.
#2 The Real Plan
As the smallest of three brothers, I always thought that I was a mistake. My brothers are several years older than me. I grew up kind of overprotected and spoiled. There were Christmases where I received gifts from everybody. In some way, it made me think that was compensation of some sort.
This Christmas, I bluntly asked my mom: “Was I a mistake or was I planned?” Turns out, I was the most planned one—she had a tumor in her uterus with a high risk of being cancerous and for some reason in the late ’70s, the doctor recommended her to get pregnant so they could take out her womb and the tumor. The pregnancy would be of high risk but she committed.
I was born at eight months and my mom got all her tumors out. They never told me because I might have felt unwanted or guilty.
#3 Grandparents With Unexpected Sides
Something felt strange about my grandfather’s funeral—just the way they were emphasizing his place in heaven. Later, I found out that he ended himself with a .357. There were also all of these random people that showed up and they ended up being the illegitimate children of my grandma. I just started gaining uncles and cousins… Confused the heck out of me.
#4 The Whole Story
My grandpa passed away while trying to put out a field fire. I found out when I was a kid but was not allowed to go to his funeral. They all lied and told me a heart attack took his life. I was so confused because everyone around me would clam up whenever I asked about him.
#5 Mother’s Horrible Secret
One of my most beloved family recipes was actually just Hamburger Helper. My mom was always cooked from scratch and literally everything else we ate she made herself. She never told us because it made her so mad that her kids would love a boxed meal so much. She did it once out of sheer desperation because she didn’t have time to cook one night. We ended up loving it. I only found out in college because I begged for the recipe.
#6 Never Mom To Me
My dad never called his stepmom anything but her real name, Margaret. He has seven brothers and sisters and they all called her mom or some form of that. When I got older, it turns out my grandpa was actually cheating on my real grandma with Margaret while she was dying of colon cancer.
#7 Straight Blinders
My aunt’s close friend, who she lives with, is actually her girlfriend. I was about 22 when they told me. Never even thought about it until it was said. It’s weird how I was completely oblivious to this for so many years.
#8 Functionally Hidden
My late father was a great dad. He went to work every day and came home every nigh. Nothing he did was really out of the ordinary, except that he would ask my sisters and me to let him use the money from our piggy banks. My granddad lived with us and he had a great pension and relatively no bills, so he spoiled us rotten and would always give us money. Anyway, whenever my dad did borrow money from us, he’d tell us not to mention it to anyone and that he’d give it back.
When eighth grade came along, my dad’s financial situation got worse. One day, just before my graduation, my mom started screaming. Our house was being foreclosed on and my dad hadn’t been paying the mortgage. He’d been trying to cover up for the fact that he was a substance abuser. He spent a huge portion of the family money on illicit substances right under our noses. He’d been an addict for more than 20 years and none of us knew.
#9 Silence Is The Best Secret Keeper
My grandparents didn’t talk to each other in the 20 years before my grandfather finally kicked the bucket. They lived in the same house the entire time too and no one knows why they weren’t on speaking terms.
#10 Miraculous Cousin
I didn’t know one of my cousins existed until I was about ten years old. Turns out, he was diagnosed with leukemia as a child and I was a very sensitive kid, so my family decided not to tell me until the treatment was successful and he recovered. It would have been okay if they told me as soon as he was healthy again, but I guess they forgot, so the first time I met him, I was wondering how exactly I managed to forget the existence of a whole person.
#11 Separate But Together
My grandma and grandpa have been separated since we were all young kids. My grandpa would always fall asleep on the couch before we went to bed during the holidays. We never thought anything of it because they were still always together. However, looking back, I don’t remember them ever being in the same room or ever really interacting. They’re very Catholic and don’t believe in divorce, yet they both have new partners who are pushing them for marriage. Holidays are very weird now.
#12 Choices Removed
My grandparents forced my aunt to get rid of her baby before my family moved to America. It rendered her permanently sterile. It finally makes sense why none of the adults talk about having children around her.
#13 The Secret Realized
My father always talked about how his brother lied to a doctor so he could claim disability money.
At some point, he had a mental breakdown. He started telling stories about the government implanting a chip in his brain. He went out and got a CAT scan as proof, and he would point to things that weren’t there.
As an adult, his behavior made sense when my aunt mentioned mental illness runs in the family. My uncle had never lied to his doctor. He told that doctor what he believed to be the absolute truth: He had been abducted by aliens.
#14 Daughter’s Trauma Becomes Mother’s Worry
My granny attempted to hurt herself when my mom was in high school. My mom was the one who found her. If she hadn’t, my granny wouldn’t have survived. It explains why my mom panics the way she does and jumps to conclusions all the time. If she can’t get a hold of me or my brother on the phone she automatically assumes we are lost and she panics. Recently, she couldn’t get a hold of my brother for a few hours and she lost all composure. We just are starting to realize after all these years that she probably has undiagnosed PTSD.
#15 Uncle Troll
When I was a little kid, my uncle had something going on. As a small child, the details were frequently lost to me, so after a while I just kind of accepted it. He is also a notorious jokester, so I never knew when he was being serious.
One time, I was sitting with my uncle and he was talking about a recent doctor’s visit. He told me, entirely straight-faced, that he had eaten some watermelon seeds by mistake and they had sprouted in his stomach, so he had to get them removed. As an eight-year-old hearing this, it made complete sense. I took his advice to be very diligent when consuming my soccer-practice watermelon slices, avoiding all of the seeds.
And that was basically it. I went on through life just accepting this whole story, never questioned it. When I was around 13, I somehow had a realization that just clicked into place—my uncle had cancer!
Somehow, this had slipped past my gullible mind for years, and there was never a moment when my parents decided to tell me about it.
My uncle is now entirely healthy and he continues to troll me and my siblings whenever he gets the chance.
#16 Teeth Don’t Lie
My brothers and I all share very distinctive teeth with my dad.
After my grandma died, I found some letters between her and my grandad while he was on national service. Going by the dates, grandad was in Malaysia when my dad was conceived.
#17 Wary All His Life
When I was really young, I never understood why my dad wouldn’t allow drinks like Kool-Aid in the house, especially if it was grape. Later in life, I found out he was part of the cleanup crew for Jonestown.
#18 The Missing Siblings
Growing up, I was told that my grandfather had three siblings, but I had only ever met one of them. As I got older, I found out that the first brother had died from AIDs, the second brother had gone crazy from Agent Orange exposure, and the third brother was living two blocks away but had been shunned by the family because he was gay. It made me understand why my grandfather was so into those cheesy Hallmark movies— he wanted to make some happy family memories. Fortunately, my grandfather and his shunned brother were able to reconcile before he passed away.
#19 The Ancient Rabbit
My pet rabbit got attacked by something a couple of years after I got it. My parents found it lifeless outside and replaced it before I found out. I just thought my rabbit lived super long but it was actually two rabbits.
#20 No More Driving
My grandfather did not die of a heart attack in the garage, my grandmother accidentally hit him with the car. I always wondered why my grandmother refused to drive anywhere and preferred walking.
#21 Like A Mafia Movie Plot
My father was a Capo from the Neapolitan Camorra and was wanted by Interpol. He couldn’t set a foot back in Italy without being immediately apprehended.
He was also living under a stolen identity he used when he fled a high-security prison in Italy, so my last name never was my actual family name.
#22 Secret Revealed And Family Gained
I was 13 years old when I learned that my father was not my biological father.
I confronted my mother and she denied it until I gave his name. It was my grandmother who told me. EVERYONE in my family knew. I ended up finding him on my own through Facebook and other avenues. I met him at 14 and gained a WHOLE new family after that— aunts, uncles, a brother and sister, grandmother, everything. I was able to spend four years with him before he passed away from cancer. I visit that side of my family every chance I get, and they are some of the most genuine and loving people I have in life.
But I still love my adoptive father—he raised me since birth and I’m his only child. I could not ask for a better dad.
#23 Uncle And Uncle
I didn’t know my uncle’s roommate was his partner until I was a teenager, years after his death. I also didn’t know he’d died of AIDS and been a major activist; going to D.C. and pouring ashes of dead friends out on the White House lawn to shame Congress into funding research, etc.
My older family members are Catholic and grandma thought AIDS was his punishment for being gay. His partner never contracted it and he’s one of my closest uncles to this day, even though he’s not related to me. He has never missed a single major milestone in my life.
#24 A Secret That Didn’t Happen
When I was seven years old, I remember my mom was really excited to tell me I was going to have a little sibling. Then, one day, she suddenly stopped talking about it. I just assumed she made a mistake reading the pregnancy test results. Fast forward to last month and she told me that pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. I probably should’ve expected that, but it was still kind of shocking to hear.
#25 Origin Story
I joined the karate dojo that my brother was a part of when I was five years old. For the longest time, I never wondered why he decided to take up karate in the first place.
One time, I was messing around on a school Chromebook and thought it would be fun to look up the names of my family. At some point, I found a news article which featured names that were suspiciously the same as the ones in my family. Apparently, a dude who was getting chased by the police for stealing cars ran into our home and took my father hostage with a knife to his throat. My brother, who was four years old at the time, grabbed his plastic samurai sword and ran to where my father was taken, hostage.
Of course, my mother took my brother and ran, but I was left in my bedroom, sleeping. My father calmly talked to the crazy dude, and the police managed to get him out alive. When I talked to my dad about it over the phone, he said he still has scars from the incident.
I asked my mother about it too, and she confirmed this all as true. A couple of months later, I was trying to make small talk with my mother and ended up asking why my brother joined the karate dojo. She said “You don’t know? Something happened that made him want to get stronger.” That was when I connected the dots—my brother joined the dojo at such a young age because he couldn’t save his dad.
#26 A Mother’s Indiscretion
I found out my dad isn’t actually my biological father. He got me an ancestry DNA kit for Christmas to do for fun and once we got the results, the truth was revealed. What’s even worse is my mom knew the whole time and never told anyone. For 26 years, she kept this a secret and never had any intention of telling the truth.
She’d had an affair with her college boyfriend while my dad was on a business trip for a couple of months. After I found all of this out, things finally started making sense. She and I have never had a great relationship. I always envied other girls growing up that had great mother/daughter relationships and never understood why that couldn’t happen to me. She was verbally and sometimes physically abusive towards me growing up, but never towards my sisters. She knew I was the product of her affair and she was ashamed of it, so she would take it out on me.
#27 The Color Of Great Grandma
According to my mom’s family legend, my great-great grandmother was half Native American. My mom comes from a long line of racists. In a picture of my great grandmother when she was younger, she has the coloring of a young Lena Horne. Nobody knows where my insanely curly hair came from.
My mom and her sister did one of those DNA tests. There was no Native American ancestry in the results at all. There was, however, African DNA. I’m pretty sure great-great-grandmother was just “passing by” as they used to say. I think it’s fascinating and I just wish we’d found out in time to tell those old school racists before they were gone.
#28 Family Dots
When I was around eight years old, my uncle passed away. I thought it was something sudden and medically tragic, as I remember him having lung problems of some sort. When I got older, I found out he ended his life because his girlfriend broke up with him. I remember hanging out in my uncle’s room where we got to play video games and listen to cool music with him. That was the start of me learning about mental illness running in the family and it connected a lot of dots for me.
#29 Secret Unconfirmed But Believable
I found out I have ADHD but my parents didn’t take me for any further doctor’s visits to confirm once it was posited as a potential diagnosis. They didn’t want me on any psychological meds.
I’m still undiagnosed, but it would explain a lot of the issues I had as a kid as well as the unconventional social skills I have now.
#30 Ghosts Of A Past Life
I was an only child. My mother was 40 and my father was 50 when they had me. They had gotten together rather late in life. My mother always told me that my father didn’t want her to get pregnant because he was afraid she was too old and didn’t want anything happing to her or the baby.
After my father passed away at the age of 95, I took my mother to the Social Security office to take care of the paperwork. One of the questions they asked was whether there were any other potential beneficiaries of my father’s benefits such as other children or ex-wives. Being an only child, I immediately answered “no.” My mother looked at me sheepishly and answered, “That’s not exactly correct”. It was then, at the age of 45 in the Social Security building, that I learned that my father had previously been married in his 20s and had had a child. The mother died during childbirth.
#31 Donation In The Family
About a year ago, my mother revealed to me that my younger cousin is also my brother. My late father donated sperm to my mother’s sister as she had several miscarriages in the past. So technically, my younger cousin is also my younger brother.
#32 We Were The Second
My dad had a first marriage. My sisters and I knew nothing about until we were in our mid-thirties.
He married my mom when he was 34. I always thought he was just a super late bloomer, but he forbade my mom from telling us he spent his 20s married to a different woman. Only after his Alzheimer’s got worse did she reveal his big secret.
#33 Unworthy Grandmother
My grandmother has always been mean to her oldest daughter (my mom’s sister). She was always belittling her and criticizing her. I just assumed she played favorites with her children to an extreme degree. When I was about 20, I learned that my grandmother conceived my aunt out of wedlock, before she had met and married my grandfather. She was mean to her because she doesn’t like being reminded about that part of her past. I had previously lost respect for her when I thought she was being mean to my aunt for no reason. When I found out the real reason, I just lost even more respect for her.
#34 Two Cousins, One Grandmother
My grandma married her first cousin. I’m not sure how it even was legal. It was described as more of a friendship to me after I put the pieces together. It was very confusing as a kid.
#35 The Family That Isn’t My Family
I always wondered why my father’s family had no interest in seeing or talking to me after he passed away. I figured most people who lost a son or brother would really want to be around his only kid, the only thing left of him. But they never contacted me. His funeral was the last time I saw them. I also wondered why I didn’t really look like him or anyone in his family. I don’t look like either of my parents really.
Years later, I took an Ancestry DNA test to see what my genealogy was and the results showed a much different heritage than what I had been told. I didn’t recognize any of the names of people who were related to me on there. I asked my mom about it and she admitted I was conceived right around the time my mom and dad were on a brief break. My dad, who I’ve been mourning for 17 years, was not my biological father. My biological father is alive with a family a few towns away. He looks just like me and still doesn’t know I exist.
#36 A Previously Unnecessary Talk
Out of four girls, I’m the only one who can biologically have kids. I didn’t find out until I was 24; my mom told me not to ask my recently married sister when she was planning on having to have kids with her husband.
I now understand why my parents were so grossly underprepared to explain menstruation to me. They’d never had to do it before.
#37 The Christmas Secret
I begged my grandpa for years to get his Christmas fudge recipe and he always told me it was a family secret. When he passed away, I thought the secret passed with him. Years later, my mom told me that grandpa’s Christmas fudge was the recipe on the back of the marshmallow creme jar. I laughed and cried because that was just so… GRANDPA! I am now the keeper of the secret family fudge recipe and have to make it every Christmas without spilling the beans to cousins, aunts, and uncles.
#38 Escapee Family
My mom’s side of the family escaped communist China in the 1970s, lived in the Kowloon Walled City for about four years, and became refugees in the U.S. It explains why my mom is so frugal and doesn’t trust the government.
#39 The Wonders Of A Religious Family
The family came from a real strong Mormon-like religion called the “Two by Twos” or “Church Without A Name.” My grandma got knocked up at 13, hid the baby from everyone, then raised it as her sister. Her daughter is technically my aunt, but everyone says she’s my second cousin. Even the daughter herself doesn’t know her grandma is actually alive. My grandma got kicked out of the church for beating up her abusive husband.
#40 Great Grandparent’s Kindness Results In A Mixup
The man everyone knew as my grandmother’s brother was actually her nephew. His mother, my grandmother’s sister-in-law, was an abusive drinker, and his father, my grandmother’s actual brother, could not care for him. He showed up on my grandmother’s doorstep in the middle of the night so many times that he eventually just never went back home. My grandmother’s parents raised him as a son.
#41 Think Tank Grandpa
My grandpa was a grumpy old man. He had a large concrete workshop separate from the house on the same property that no one was allowed to enter, not even his wife. No one knew what he did in there, but he said he worked on model trains. There were serious locks on the doors and there were no windows. As a kid, I often tried to sneak in, but I got yelled at in a way that really scared me. He was in there pretty much all the time but would come out for fresh air and to feed his fish. Also, no one in the family knew what he did for a living.
Many, many years later during his funeral, it came out that he designed secret weapons for the government.
#42 The Donor Father
I have a great aunt whose children look nothing like her husband.
Turns out, he had mumps as a kid and it left him sterile. So he asked a buddy to “contribute” because he and his wife wanted kids. They kept this secret, insisting that the kids looked like someone on the great uncle’s side of the family (we never met any of them). We found out when she decided to tell her kids that their biological donor was a man who died in the army.
#43 Not-So-Secret Secret
My parents told me about my biological father when I was 16. My older sisters were always mean to me. Anytime I was praised for getting good grades or doing anything well, they would throw a fit. My biological father and my two half-sisters added me on Facebook. That’s when my parents decided to tell me about them. My mom claims that my biological dad didn’t want anything to do with me. He had offered to pay for my mom to get rid of me as a baby but then refused to give up his rights until a paternity test was done. When he finally gave up his rights, my dad adopted me and I took his last name. My sisters would tell me about how he wasn’t my real dad, so when my parents told me, I already knew. I had to act surprised so they wouldn’t be upset.
#44 Sure She Knew…
My grandmother passed away when I was 16. While we were cleaning out her house, I found a large stash of family photos including my dad’s wedding picture… But my mom wasn’t the bride.
Turns out, my dad was married to someone else long before he married my mom. I asked my mom if she knew and she said, “Of course,” in the least convincing tone.
#45 Tragedy And Drama Revealed By Height
My uncle has a different father than my dad and the rest of their brothers, which would explain why my uncle is 6’3″ while the next tallest member of the family is 5’7″.
Apparently, my grandparents broke off their engagement, and my grandma got pregnant by her new boyfriend. The new boyfriend crashed his car and passed away while crawling through a snowstorm across my grandma’s property. Then, a few years later, my grandparents got back together and got married.