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25 Secrets People Are Keeping From Their Families That Range From Heartbreaking To Really, Really, Really Dark

"My brother had a relationship and a child with our first cousin (our dads are brothers). They kept it a secret (like, no one knew the child even existed) for almost eight years before my dad and uncle found out. ... I have known about the situation since they were pregnant."

Recently, we wrote about secrets people have kept from their families — and now we're back with more from the BuzzFeed Community.* Here are 25 secrets people refuse to tell their families.

*There are also some from the original Reddit thread.

Note: There are mentions of sexual assault and miscarriage.

1. "I've been living with my mom and my younger sister without my dad since childhood because my dad has abandoned us for a younger woman. When I was in high school/university, ... my mom told me that when I was much younger, my dad had visited a shaman who was (in)famous for giving wealth to people who asked and paid. Other than money, the payment usually included the life of one direct family member of the requestor. That chosen family member usually would die or go insane. After visiting the shaman, my dad gave two items to my mom: a short dagger to be kept somewhere in the house and a meal to be given to me."

"My mom kept the dagger in their bedroom, but threw the meal away. Years later after becoming a born-again Christian, my mom gave the dagger away and told me the story. I always know my dad would prefer my beautiful little sister than me, but I didn't expect he would be so indifferent to be willing to sacrifice me for wealth."


2. "I’m having an affair with a married man. We have a 15-year-old daughter. His only daughter whom he was never really there for from day one and can’t be there for now. About three years ago though, he finally had a child with his wife who he’s been with since my daughter was three (another girl) and now recently had a baby boy. It’s a weird relationship that we have maintained but when we are together (unbeknownst to our families and our daughter) we get along and are really happy together."

"I feel bad because my daughter is growing up in a single-family home with no father while her siblings are getting a two-parent home and have a really good life while I am financially struggling. I never shared my struggles with her father but he has to know children are expensive either way and now I’m thinking of finally ending it because I feel like my daughter is being slighted. This is unfair to her. He never wanted to be a father so I assumed this is why he never was a father but is now currently present for his two children. He is 40 years old. I assumed he would never have other children but now he’s a father of three."


person saying, bill please are you my father

3. "I killed my great-grandmother. I was 10 years old and she was watching me while my parents were at work and one of my favorite things to do at the time was hide and jump out and scare people. ... I hid in her closet and waited for her to come look for me, and when she opened the door, I just went 'RAWR!!!!' and before I knew it, she had fainted and bumped her head. The one detail I'll never get out of my head was the sound she made when she hit her bedpost. After it happened, I was taken aback, and she wasn't responding to my voice nor me nudging her. I didn't know what to do at the time, so I went next door and told the lady that my Granny collapsed and she wasn't waking up. She called 911, 911 got a hold of my parents, and the rest is history. To this day, I've never told them it was me, and I still think about it sometimes."


4. "When I was 10, my dad died in a workplace accident. There was a lawsuit for wrongful death, and my mom settled out of court for a decent amount of money. She then invested the money in a structured settlement for my brother and I. Basically I would get lump sum payments every five years after I turned 25, then would get them every two years once I turned 55. The fully vested amount of the structured settlement was well over a million dollars. I sold the payments to JG Wentworth at a SUBSTANTIAL loss, then took the money and blew it on cocaine and gambling. I was broke within three months. Never told my mom."


5. "I'm in my 30s and I'm a sugar baby to a man 30 years older than me. Not my preferred occupation, but he pays more than I make at the 9–5 that I love. It helps with the extra, like unexpected bills."


6. "My brother had a relationship and a child with our first cousin (our dads are brothers). They kept it a secret (like, no one knew the child even existed) for almost eight years before my dad and uncle found out due to my brother texting our dad one night when he was drunk…This is my dad’s first and only grandchild. I have known about the situation since they were pregnant. My dad and I are close, so keeping a secret like that from my father would make me physically ill at times."


scene from mean girls, one girl says he's a good kisser and her friend says, he's your cousin

7. "I started modeling when I was 14 years old. My first modeling contract landed me in NYC at 15 years old and then when I was 17 I went to Milan, Italy. By myself. I was thrust into a lot of things I had never experienced before. ... My new roommate ... invited me to go to the famous Club Hollywood in Milan. Promoters would get paid to take us out. ... She calls this guy who was a model with our agency but also lived in Milan full time. He was dealing drugs on the side for money. He agrees to sell us some weed and is adamant we are going to love this weed, it’s the best weed ever…Okay. The night comes."

"Me and new roomie go outside to smoke this joint. ... We start walking back into the club which is down a bunch of stairs and I see the women’s bathroom to my left and tell her I’m just going to use it real fast and I’ll find her. ... I’m standing, waiting for stall to open up and all of a sudden I feel like I’m being sucked into the floor. I feel like I’m looking up at people, like I’ve shrunk down and everyone is as tall as a building. I stumble out of the bathroom and I try to orient myself but it’s impossible. ... I find a bench against a wall and I slump down ... and then I projectile vomited into the dance floor of the club. ... Next thing I know some guy is asking me if I want to go home? Home? Yes, YES PLEASE! I’ve lost my purse. I’ve lost my coat. The only thing I have is my new address memorized and my apartment key in my back pocket. ...

This guy drags me out of the club and shoves me in the front seat of a beat-up red car and two other guys get in the back seat. I’m still mostly paralyzed. I see them in a haze doing coke off a CD case. I’ve never seen coke in my life…I keep repeating my address as if it’s some kind of mantra now. He just keeps saying 'okay.' He drops his friend off. And all of a sudden I realize I’m no longer in the city of Milan. I’m in the country somewhere. 

He pulls up to an apartment complex and he’s ... trying to push me to get out of the car. Something finally clicks in my brain. .... I start screaming at him ... He’s trying to get me to go for a coffee. I said, 'NO COFFEE! HOME!' He grabs my arm and says, very menacingly, 'no home.' This is when I properly lose my shit. I start banging everything in the car and demanding he take me home or back to the club. ... He finally gets scared and drops me back to the club. 

I went back inside still barely able to walk ... I tell the promoter that things have gone wrong and I needed to find my roommate and go home. ... Next day roomie ... calls guy we got [the weed] from. ... He tells us he laced it with PCP. WTF?!?!! All of my trust in people vanished that night. I have never been able to tell my family what happened because my mom was already so trusting of me and thinking I was there being responsible and working. It still haunts me to this day that I was in such a vulnerable position and that if that guy wanted to, he could have killed me and there would have been nothing I could do."


8. "My uncle gave me $30K in cash. Less than a year later he died. He told me that this was between him and I and to not tell anyone. After his death, my mom was the executor of his estate because she is the only one left in her family. He had some money in a bank account and no kids. My mom gave my brothers, sister, and my cousins a thousand dollars each but I refused the money because I had already gotten enough from my uncle. After about a year my mom sat me down and insisted I take the money and explain why I had refused it so many times. I finally had to tell her but I told her to not tell anyone else. I have a feeling my siblings and dad will be very upset to find out he gave me that money and I didn’t give any to them."


9. "My family, to this day, doesn't know that my first wife had to have a C-section not because of a medical issue with my son but because we found out that she was HIV positive. Her T-cells were so low that they told us that she was on the verge of having full-blown AIDS. She had no idea. My son, in a weird way, saved her life. She got on medication immediately during the pregnancy. My son never contracted it, and neither did I. She'd had it for years before we even met."


10. "My cousin got pregnant at 19, sometime after high school graduation, by a guy she knew who was in a band. She stayed with a friend while pregnant (a girl no one in our extended fam knew well, but right here in town) and gave the baby up for adoption. She told absolutely no one and because she was always kind of circumspect and eccentric, no one questioned her standoffishness that whole year. But 33 years later, he tracked our family down through DNA and ancestry.com — with a little help from the Facebook. She is PISSED."

"Won't acknowledge him or speak to him, and the rest of the family who's embraced him are labeled 'traitors' who betrayed her. Dude, we were mega shocked, but happily so! No shame or shade from anyone of any generation. He's heartbroken she won't communicate at all and their part of the family is in a civil war over it. It's terribly sad to witness and feels like an ego thing on her side. But we can't support her or understand her feelings because she's declared us dead to her. I think: 

1. Life is far too short to torture people who love you. At least explain before writing them (us) off. 

2. It's 2023, kids, DNA and the interwebs is gonna find us all."


Henry showing up at Emma's door on once upon a time telling Emma he's her son

11. "My parents were married in 1981. ... I was born 1984. In the mid-'90s, my dad’s dad (my grandpa) passed away. We went down south to his place for his funeral. I rummaged around downstairs through boxes of old things and found a newspaper wedding announcements from the '70s...of my dad with another woman. I showed this to my mom and asked about it (I was like fifth grade) and she said, 'oh your father was young and stupid.' I never said anything again. Then, 2004. My dad dies suddenly from a heart attack. It was a shock. Fit, overall great health…just unfortunate genetics. ... Anyway, we are preparing for the funeral. My aunt comes to me 'you know how your dad was married before?' I’m now 19 and finally can agree to this because I haven’t said a word for yearsss. 'Well. He left her because he walked in on her with another woman.'"

"I ... did an ancestry.com membership for awhile and while I was researching hopefully my dad's birth family I finally found records of this Jane Doe he was married to. .... I called her. She answered. We talked for an hour. We have also kept in touch lots. Her and my dad were high school sweethearts. He took great care of her and loved her. But she admitted she really knew deep down she wanted to be with women. They got their marriage annulled because they were good Catholic families who shouldn’t get divorced. And my dad moved on and met my mom. Also found out from her that after their separation somehow she had some of his belongings and wanted to get them back to him so she phoned his work. Turns out it was the day I was being born because they told her he was at the hospital for the birth of his kid. He ended up calling her back and told her about me. So she knew I existed this whole time. And then she told me my dad sent a Christmas card every year to her parents. And in 2004 they didn’t get one. And then that’s how she found out from obituary searching he passed away. And now it's 2023 and my mom has no idea I have ever talked to his first wife and have somewhat built a friendship, nor does she know he sent these Xmas cards or talked to her the day I was born.


12. "About 15 years ago, I was traveling and randomly picked up a lottery ticket and won $250,000. The state was one that doesn’t make the names of lottery winners public — so no one ever knew. I was making decent money at the time and only used about $60,000 (banked the rest)."


13. "Me being bisexual and being in a long-distance relationship with a girl, which is no longer long-distance now. I've lived out of my family home for the most part of my life [even] after I turned 18 because of my higher education or designated workplace being very far from home. I am still very close to my family but I've sort of developed a second life outside of my family — a life I know that a traditional Asian family will find very difficult to accept."

"Sometimes on certain weekends/holidays, I'll tell my family that I am not free but really I am hanging out with my partner. My family thinks she is my 'very close friend.' The problem now is that I am having major issues with my partner, which I feel is heading towards a breakup and sadly the only people I can share my sadness with are a few of my selected closed friends. I am not ready to come out to my family."


14. "That I'd walk around with a 50ml bottle of someone else's piss down my pants, just to pass the drug tests they'd make me do."


in euphoria rue asks her little sister for her pee and straps it to her leg

15. "I had a miscarriage on my 17th birthday. I had found out I was pregnant three days after my HS boyfriend and I had broken up when my sister caught him fucking my best friend. I didn’t tell anyone I was pregnant, except him. I hadn’t figured out what I was going to do yet, or how to tell them. Turned out to not matter, because two weeks later, again, on my birthday, I woke up in incredible pain and my bed was just covered in blood. I was home alone, so I just called my ex to take me to the hospital and never said a word to anyone in my family. He and the girl he cheated on me with showed up, and she cleaned up the bed while he drove me to the hospital."

"This was nearly 15 years ago now, and I’d say I’be healed now. I still think about it from time to time, think about how I’d have a teenager by now, and how different my life would be (I came out as gay about 5 years later, started dating a woman and moved across the country with her, later marrying her. We have no children). I’m grateful that I could heal and see a better life for myself after that."


16. "In college, I medically donated eggs to help pay off credit card and college debt. My family is very religious and 1) thinks it would be like killing babies and 2) would think they are grandparents. I am open about a lot in my life but I will never tell them. They would try to find the couple and contact the child and try to be a 'grandparent' and it’s none of their goddamn business."


17. "My drug addiction to opioids between my 15 and 18. I went to the hospital for a chronic disease and they gave me [opioids]. I fell into [addiction] and could ask for medical prescription anytime so I took these for three years and stopped with a big craving effect for weeks."


18. "I went to therapy, got a CPTSD diagnosis (directly due to the way I was raised), and, due to that, easily qualified for a medical Marijuana card. Oh, and an anxiety diagnosis. They have no idea. I've tried talking to my parents about my childhood, but they always play victim/martyr. So I've just stopped."

"It's kind of funny that I've had these huge life changes and my parents are oblivious. I'm virtually no contact with my narcissistic father and severely reduced contact with my mom. They're oblivious."


someone asking, how long do you plan to use the victim card

19. "I lied to my family about going to college and graduating. I was never good at school but it was expected so I pretended to go and even pretended to graduate. My parents gave me money for school and I used it to pay for rent and travel around the world for a few years. I still haven’t told them."


20. "That I had a horrendous gambling addiction. I was over $35K in debt. Had a massive win. Paid it all off and have never placed a bet again."


21. "That my 'mate' I took to the ER with a fractured eye socket, broken jaw, shattered wrist, snapped collar bones collar bones and a dislocated shoulder didn't drunkenly fall down three flights of stairs at his party. Was really a reaction to seeing him attempting to sexually assault a chick I was close to (little sister close)."


22. "[My] mom said she'd disown me if I got vaccinated. I did it in secret like two years ago anyway. She tells me practically every day how glad she is I didn't get it."


someone getting a shot

23. "I once had a sex ed lesson that flipped my whole world upside down. It was a boys-only class and the male teacher was talking to us about sexual health. He explained the importance of checking for lumps as this can be a sign of cancer. I can't recall exactly what the teacher said but I basically left that class with the view of, if you have a lump then you have cancer. You can probably guess where this is going by now. I got home and proceeded to check my balls for lumps, and sure enough, I felt a hard tender mass on my left testicle. I must've been about 13 at the time and didn't know what to do. Of course, the teacher explained during the lesson that you should tell a parent or doctor if you do find anything of concern but I felt far too embarrassed to tell anyone. I didn't feel comfortable enough to tell my Mum and my Dad wasn't in the picture."

"So from 13, I was convinced that I only had so many years to live. I think I told myself that I would be lucky to make it to 20, not that I was equipped with any kind of knowledge about cancer at the time, other than people regularly die because of it. This belief set me on a path of self-destruction through my teenage years which led to me breaking up with my childhood sweetheart, losing many friends, and moving out of my family home at 14. Fast forward to 17 years old when I finally gained the courage to tell a doctor and have them check. Turns out the lump is just a benign cyst and will have close to zero impact on my physical health. I wish I felt like I could have been open with my Mum to tell her at the time. My early life would have turned out very different if I had."


24. "I was in a long distance relationship with someone from another country for two years. I would travel nearly every month to visit them or they would come to me. They had no idea when they messaged me, I was sometimes out of the country, either in their country or on a trip somewhere else. I was living a completely different life that barely anyone knew about."

"I had come out of a relationship with a very abusive and dangerous person. He had completely embedded themselves in my family’s life and when I finally left them, I lost my family with it. I moved to the next town over and kept contact with my parents but all information about daily life was hidden. I built a life slowly, and part of that was a solo trip abroad, where I met someone.

I was far too terrified to tell them the truth about what had happened with my ex. I didn’t think they’d believe me and I didn’t want them to know. My parents eventually cut ties with him but my brother stayed friends with him after. I went to NC with my brother for four years in total.

I was so scared my ex would find out and come looking for me due to jealousy that the relationship was kept a secret from most people I knew, including my parents in case they let something slip to my brother.

I have left the country now for good, and I’m sure there’s people who I have some degree of connection to, that have no idea I ever left. I’ve always been someone that has kept their cards close to their chest, and life circumstances have contributed to that greatly."


25. And finally, this one's just surprisingly wholesome: "Honestly, just how much my cousin has improved my life. My parents were total shitbags. Both dead now, my aunt and uncle raised me. They were amazing people, sadly both of them died in a car accident a few years ago and left behind my cousin. It was a hell of a battle gaining guardianship over her, even though she wanted that as well (I'm male, and was single at the time), so that was a pain to deal with. But yeah, she's really just put a sparkle in my life that was never there before. I had a really shitty childhood, and my teenage years were rough until I moved in with my aunt and uncle. Being responsible for her really pushed me to succeed, and now I'm living very comfortably, and semi-retired. And I attribute that drive to better myself to her. Because after losing her parents, I never want her to have a bad day again."


Now I'll ask the opposite — does anyone have a secret that their family or friends kept from them? Let us know in the comments or via this anonymous form!

Submissions have been edited for length/clarity.