Recently, we wrote about some wild family gossip, and commenters came in with their own examples. Here are 19 secrets and stories that are absolutely shocking.
Some submissions are from the original post as well as this post about wild gossip from Reddit and this post about people keeping secrets from parents.
Note: Some submissions contain mentions of violence and sexual assault.
1. "My cousin's mother slept with her boyfriend. My cousin took him back, had a child at 17 years old, married him, and had another child with him."
2. "Long before I was born, my great uncle started 'dating' his sister's daughter (my first cousin once removed) when she was in high school. The family was obviously not cool about it, and intended to go to the police, etc. but Cousin said she loved him and would not stop seeing him, and if anyone did anything she would leave home, cut everyone off, etc."
"It was all very much in the open. It was very confusing as a child that my great uncle's girlfriend was somehow my cousin.
They stayed together for decades, until he passed away from cancer a few years ago."
3. "My great-grandfather on my dad's side was a pillar of the community in his town of Georgia. Chairman of the deacon in the Church, helped out anyone who needed it. When he died the whole town was upset and paid respects to him. Imagine the complete shock when his children found his old Klan robes in his closet when they went to clean his stuff out."
4. "After many weeks of suffering through end stage esophageal cancer, I turned off the valve to my mother’s oxygen to end her suffering. No one else in my family knows this and I’ve born this secret silently for fifteen years. May God forgive me or understand me."
5. "A few years ago, my dad found out at the age of 70 that his dad is not actually his biological father. His bio dad was actually a serial rapist. He has 30+ half siblings."
6. "I found out when I was nine years old that my great-grandfather was a pedophile. He violated several of his own kids and grandkids, including probably my mother. No one ever did a damn thing about it because I was told it would have torn my family apart and ruined my great-grandma, who I was led to believe didn't know. I found out later that she probably did. My mother (who abandoned me) had left explicit instructions that I was never to be left alone with him, and to my knowledge, I never was."
"I always had a weird feeling being around him, but he never did anything inappropriate to me. And yeah, he was heavily involved in the Pentecostal church and was involved in a couple of other Christian organizations. He died 15 years ago now, but it has always bothered me that nobody said anything. I'm also the truth teller in my family and they don't like that about me. I've cut them all off because they're all pretty toxic."
7. "There's one big [family] secret only I know about. My grandma confided in me that her will my dad has stored in a safe for when she passes is not the will she left with the attorney. She's since updated it with a different witness."
"She won't tell me what the will says (understandably) so I don't know exactly why she won't tell anyone else, but she did slip that I'm supposed to 'get more.'"
8. "My grandfather murdered the man who molested my mom and aunt."
9. "My great-grandma was an abusive, alcoholic hoarder. ... It’s suspected, but never proven, that my great aunt killed her ... several decades ago. Her grandmother was on oxygen, and when she was found dead, the tank was somehow disconnected so it wasn’t providing oxygen. It’s not so much a secret, but when it’s talked about, it’s always hush-hush."
10. "As a kid, I overheard my mom and another relative talking about my great-aunt’s second husband, who I’d never met. When I asked my mom about it, all she’d tell me was that the marriage didn’t last long and that her cousin (I’ll call her Emily) 'took care of him.'"
"I found out years later that his guy had tried to sexually assault Emily and she beat him so badly that he ended up in the hospital. She was maybe 13 at the time. I’m still not sure if my great-aunt was the one who divorced the guy or if he ran for his life as soon as he could walk again."
11. "My mom just told everyone she was naturally thin and high energy, then her boyfriend died in a meth lab explosion."
12. "My grandfather had an affair with my grandma's sister and even had a child with her. For years, I didn't know why they lived in separate towns but still remained married until the day they died. I found this out years after they both were dead. Everyone in my family always keep it hush-hush. Not only that, he cheated on her continuously throughout their marriage with different women. Even to this day, my mom and her siblings have no idea how many potential brothers and sisters they might have out there."
"The worst thing is that my mother and her siblings speak about it like it's a normal thing that happened because he was a man and it was accepted back then. I am disgusted to this day and will never see my grandparents the same way EVER again."
13. "I received an email from the genetic testing site I used, notifying me a matched relative sent me a private message. The person identified herself as a fellow granddaughter of my maternal grandfather, with whom I was raised. Not only did I learn about my grandfather's previous family, but also, he had two additional families."
"The woman went on to reveal that my grandfather was a serial bigamist who abandoned his wives once they had kids. The law finally caught up with him and he served two years in state prison for bigamy. He married my grandmother soon after being released. My grandparents went on to have five children; they moved in my parent's duplex the year I was born.
Needless to say, this information was a shock for my family. We were told my grandfather was adopted and didn't know his history. My mother's family are all deceased raising questions that will never be answered. My family is contending with the reality of secrets, lies, scars, shame, and an ever-changing history of my maternal family's past.
The new cousin who contacted me is a wonderful woman. Her father (now deceased) was my mother's half-brother. It was agonizing to her how her father's family suffered after my grandfather abandoned them. Despite this, she assured me that both she, and her late father, harbor no ill will toward my grandfather. She provided me with information and documents about my grandfather in a non-judgmental manner. Mostly she was curious to know who her grandfather was. I provided her with the limited photos I had of my mother and the rest of the aunts and uncles she would not meet. When I received her family photos, I was struck by the family resemblance. I didn't need a DNA test to confirm we are related: her father looked like my mother and her youngest brother. As for the other two families my grandfather abandoned, I know that someday I may get another email from a DNA match. Secrets are like zombies — they never really die."
14. "My grandfather had an affair with my grandmother's best friend. She got pregnant and had his baby. One day when she was beset by guilt, she confessed this to my grandmother, who accepted the situation and forgave her best friend for the betrayal. After all, she knew how cunning and manipulative my grandfather was. My grandmother waited her entire life for my granddad to come clean about his love child, but he took it to the grave."
15. "My husband has an uncle-cousin. His youngest uncle is the product of incest between his grandfather and his aunt. She was 10. My father-in-law is one of the oldest kids; he was 12 when this all went down, so he remembers it. My husband’s grandfather and grandmother raised the baby as theirs, and as his aunt's sibling. To this day, the baby still doesn’t know and that was 60 years ago."
16. "When my dad sued for custody of me and my little brother, he really only wanted custody of me."
"As it turned out years later, my brother was raised by my dad and I left him to live with my mom by high school. My brother experienced our dad’s relapses (alcoholism) and abuse and I didn’t."
17. "My great-grandfather apparently had a child with a mistress in another state when he was living and working there. During an alcoholic blackout, he flew into a blind rage and shot and killed the mistress, then lived in the house with her body and his young child for a week. Then he took the child back to his other family’s home and shot and killed himself in the basement in front of the child. So horrific and awful for that poor child. No one in the family ever talks about it. I only discovered this in passing."
18. "My father-in-law is a convicted felon who spent most of my husband's youth in prison. He masterminded a three-man escape when he was only in county jail and got caught after several months on the run because he borrowed his mom's pink Mary Kay Cadillac."
"Then he ended up getting sentenced to prison for a long time, no thanks to that. It’s a family secret for the younger generation, but he’s still a scumbag."
19. "I found out my late grandfather had an illegitimate daughter when he was married to my grandmother. He financially supported the daughter until he died. My grandmother and family did not know about the daughter until after my grandfather died. They found checks made out to the daughter's mother in my grandfather's desk. The daughter also attended my grandfather's funeral."
What's the wildest family secret you have? Let us know in the comments below.
Submissions have been edited for length/clarity.