To steal egregiously from Tolstoy, “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
And every family has their secrets, some tucked deeply away. So what lies in the recesses of your family’s secret closet? u/MissRodriguez1 recently asked Reddit, “What is a secret that your family/friends didn’t want you to know?” and we combed through to find the best answers. From affairs to secret siblings, these secrets can rock entire families — so get ready to dive into the secret depths of familial secrets.
1. Worst of dads
For me it’s a friend’s dad. He left the family when my friend was young but would occasionally send a gift or card. My friend got a Facebook message one day from a woman who had been doing ancestry research. It turns out the dad had done the same thing (get married, have kids, bail) several times and my friend has a crap load of half siblings he never knew about. They’re all friends now.
2. The second option
Long after my dad died, my mom finally admitted to us that he was always just the second option, and the man she visited often with us – and without our dad – during holidays was actually the love of her life. But he had a wife and kids, and my mom had our dad as husband and us. So they never got themselves. This man later moved to the U.S., and died there in a car accident.
3. The worst life.
My grandmother was the child of rape. Her older brother forced his younger sister and she was the result. Despite it all, she was smarter than a fucking whip. Nobody could beat her in chess or scrabble. Biggest heart.
To hear that and then hear how her family hated her for being born. One story that stuck with me is when she was young, she got in an accident sledding. She got a large gash on her head and her ‘parents’ (grandparents) wanted her to die, so they let her bleed and bleed. She survived and fixed herself up at the age of 8. Her ‘father’ (grandfather) then continued to rape her until she moved out.
My grandma had the worst and hardest life growing up but she never let that make her ugly. She had 200+ people go to her funeral and all of them called her auntie, because she took care of all the kids that got dumped by their alcoholic parents. She once said she was taking care of 20 kids at some point at the age of 15.
Only respect and love for my grandma. Hard life but man… one of a kind woman.
Edit: my grandma was always humble in her kindness. Never once told anyone if she gave someone money, helped them recover from drugs by giving them a home, taking in all stray animals, and loving and only encouraging others. She never had a bad thing to say about ANYONE. even the worst of people, she’d say ‘they are hurting. Someone needs to remind them someone loves them.’
She’d be very bashful and red faced hearing these kind comments. She had a hard time taking compliments and praise, but it always meant the world to her. I’m sure she’s thanking all of you for being very sweet 🙂
I got so many half siblings out there I have to cross reference my Tinder matches with my 23 and Me data.
5. An Axe Murderer
My family never talked about my grandfather. I knew he died before I was born but that was it.
When I was about 15 my mother told me he was a terrible man, used to beat my father and their entire family. Eventually, he tried to axe murder my dad at his work, and somehow my dad fought him off. Next attempt my grandfather waited with a shotgun to kill my dad when she showed up for work, but my dad was off for some reason, grandpa eventually got tired of waiting and just killed himself.
Apparently my dad just never wanted us to know just how bad life can be, and did everything to keep that buried.
I learned a bunch of stuff about my grandfather after he died. He was a bootlegger, running whiskey from Canada down the coast into New England. He was an arsonist, burning down several buildings owned by people he had grudges against. He eloped at 16, had several kids, then completely bailed on that family a couple years later.
7. Secret brother
My parents had a son before me. Neither one ever talked about him. In fact, nobody in my entire extended family (uncles, aunts, grandparents) ever mentioned him. I was adored and doted on. It was a happy, loving childhood.
When I was 21, I found a box with old photos and saw my parents with a kid, asking my mum who it was. She simply looked at it and said that was her son. It came as quite a shock. When I tried to press for more info, she simply told me he died when he was 3, I wanted to know how, what, and when, but she stopped me in my tracks and he’s never been brought up again.
My maternal grandmother was married to a widower who had 4 children from his previous marriage. She made him give up his kids before she married him. I guess she didn’t want to take care of his children. She became pregnant with my mother,and when my mother was about 5 years old, her parents (my grandparents) got divorced. He just couldn’t live with my cold-hearted grandmother any longer. My mother didn’t tell me that. I found d out by coincidence that I had 4 uncles.
9. Mom’s job
My mom used to strip. No one will admit it.
My dad got drunk once and let it slip out about the “club” she worked at when he met her.
I’m fairly sure she did a porn or 2. I hope to NEVER stumble upon it.
Edit: This blew up. Just letting all y’all know, I’m a chick. Yes I know. Shocking.
10. Dad’s a stalker
That the man stalking me/my mom for the first 12 years of my life was my biological father and that he was an incredibly violent paranoid schizophrenic who had almost killed my mum. They only told me because I went for a walk with my friend around the neighborhood without telling my parents for the first time, and they lost their minds thinking my bio dad had gotten ahold of me.
11. Affair baby
When I was 17 I found out that my dad wasn’t actually my biological dad, my mother had an affair and got pregnant. My parents knew I wasn’t my father’s child and decided to keep it a secret from me and my mother’s side of the family. I grew up with 2 older and 1 younger sibling who turned out to be my half siblings. I was treated differently my entire life and when I found out I was an affair baby, I felt instant relief. I knew my whole life something was wrong within my family dynamic. I moved out when I was a teen, at 16 the last argument I had with my parents ended with me saying “there’s no way I’m related to you people, something must have happened at birth”
12. Grandma was a kidnapping victim
When I was growing up, my family would always avoid talking about my paternal grandmother. I knew she had vanished when my father was just a teenager, but that was all. No one ever spoke about her, and any questions I asked were met with uncomfortable silence or swift topic changes. It was as if she had been erased from our family history.
A few years ago, I stumbled upon an old box hidden in my dad’s closet. Inside, I found a stack of letters and newspaper clippings. Curiosity got the best of me, and I started reading. Turns out, my grandmother was a victim of a high-profile kidnapping when my father was 16. The kidnappers had demanded a hefty ransom, but despite my grandfather’s best efforts, he couldn’t raise the amount in time. The police were involved, but they never managed to find her or the kidnappers.
The case eventually went cold, and my father’s family was left devastated. The letters in the box were a mix of desperate pleas for help, ransom negotiations, and letters my father had written to his missing mother, pouring out his heartache and longing for her return.
To this day, I have never brought it up with my dad, but now I understand why her name was never mentioned. He spent his entire life trying to forget the tragedy and keep his own children safe from the painful truth. And even though I know the secret now, I will continue to protect his wishes and keep it to myself.
TL;DR: Found hidden letters and clippings in my dad’s closet, revealing my long-lost grandmother was a high-profile kidnapping victim. Family never spoke of her to protect us from the tragic truth. Keeping it a secret to respect my dad’s wishes.
13. A surprise aunt
I didn’t know much about it my grandfather other than the fact he was a politician in El Salvador and was very much involved with the school my mom went to in her village. He died when my mom was around 15 just a few weeks before her quinceañera from a gunshot wound. He was murdered. One day after coming home from work. My mom was on the phone with someone so I just waved hi because I didn’t wanna be rude and interrupt her phone call, but then she tells me to come say hi to my aunt. My mom only had two sisters so I thought it was one of the two sisters. But it wasn’t either of my two aunts turns out my mom had a half sister. I said hi and found out my other aunt lives in California with two of my other cousins one who is my age and the other was in her mid 20s. After the call I asked my mom how come she never told me I had another aunt. Turns out my grandpa had an affair with another woman. The woman’s husband died of a sickness and when my grandfather comforted her they both fell in love. He told her how he was gonna leave my grandma and my mom and her sisters. He never left them. He was murdered by the father of his mistress because he didn’t keep his promise. Since then I never looked at my grandfather the same way and no one visits his grave.
My mom was a huge cokehead (and dealt it in clubs, too) in the eighties; also, my siblings were actually half-siblings from her first marriage.
I found out about it by eavesdropping when I was younger, but it wasn’t until I was 27 that my mom, due to a long story, had to acknowledge that my dad was her second marriage. I’ve seen the court documents from her divorce, including those from a drug counselor, about her being huge into cocaine, but she still insists she doesn’t even know what it was and feigns ignorance about anything drug related, down to pretending not to know how to pronounce the words cocaine or marijuana
15. Mom’s jobs
I found out in my mid 30s that prior to marrying my father, my mum was a prostitute, confidence trickster and arsonist. Seriously.
She was a prostitute who was recruited in 1952 by a con-man to bilk people out of their investment capital in a “we can turn black and white photographic negatives into colour photographs! We just need capital to develop the machinery!” scheme. Investors were shown negatives, black and white photographs, and colour photos from the same negatives. It didn’t occur to them these were merely colourised black and white photos.
When the investors gathered to see the wonder they had created, the entire building, the machinery and all the plans went up in flames. The con-man was promptly arrested. So was my mum. She agreed to testify against him in exchange for misdemeanour charges.
16. Secret Mom
My “cousin” is my birth mother. Everyone knew but me.
17. Mom’s diary
I found my mom’s dairy when I was 16. I didn’t mean to snoop. I was looking through a bin of old family photos and found it. By the time I realized what it was, I couldn’t stop reading. It was the diary she kept when I was 3 when she was in the psych ward after trying to kill herself. That was the first time I went into foster care. The diary was dark and trauma laced and she was clearly experiencing psychosis. I still have the diary tucked away almost 15 years later. I never told her that I found it.
18. Suicide House
When I was 2 we moved into a really nice house in a “rich” neighborhood even though we wouldn’t normally be able to afford, we ended up moving to a much smaller house after 6 years.
Later on when I was a teenager my dad was talking to someone about that house and apparently the reason why we got that big nice house for cheaper was because the previous owner committed suicide in the garage.
Freaky part is that when we lived in that house I had reoccurring nightmares about dying in the garage.
19. Drug addicts attacking
Going through the old family computer one day and found out the real reason why my dad moved us to the other side of the country.
Turns out it wasn’t to be closer to our extended family like he told us.
Apparently dad had turned-in one of the fellow doctors at his clinic for giving out prescriptions for painkillers that was neither ethical or legal. What dad hadn’t been expecting that all the addicts getting drugs from this guy were VERY upset.
A few things started making sense after that: the time the dogs broke the glass door? Nope, someone had tried to break in and got scared off by the dogs.
Dad’s sudden interest in guns and teaching us how to shoot? Surely that’s because stepmother’s family is all ranchers, right? I mean, that’s why I learned to throw a lasso when I was like 6-7. Nope, it was because dad was scared for our family’s safety, but also wanted to make sure we knew that guns were not toys and we’d know how to use it if we were ever in a situation where that knowledge could save our lives.
Never told him I found out. He tried so hard to shield us from the reality of the situation.
20. Dad left
I grew up thinking my father abandoned me and my mom. but years later far into adulthood I learned from my grandma that my mom left my dad and didn’t allow him to see me so that she could extort money out of him. I to this day still don’t have a relationship with him.