When you're a kid, you tend to get left out of many adult conversations because you're so young and impressionable. But as you get older, you start to be let in on all the big things you missed.
Reddit user u/EgglessYolk recently asked, "What dark family secret were you let in on once you were old enough?" The thread was flooded with some of the messiest, most unbelievable stories I've ever read — here's what people said.
1. "I found out I had a sister who had been given up for adoption. The only reason I found out was the person who informed me no longer felt bound to secrecy after my mom died. And the person who told me had 'receipts' solid enough that I have no reason to doubt them. It also explains why mom freaked out when I told her I'd done a 23AndMe test."
2. "When I was in my early 20s, I found an old photo of someone in a family album I didn't recognize. When I asked my mom about it, she said, 'Oh, that's your aunt Gloria.' Then she lowered her voice (even though we were alone) and added, 'She's a NUDIST.' Poor Aunt Gloria just wants to be a nudy-lady, and everyone acts like she's a leper."
3. "My uncle was actually my cousin. He was kidnapped as an infant, and when he was returned a year later, my aunt didn't want him back. My grandparents adopted him, so he was legally my uncle."
4. "My uncle didn't die in a car accident. He killed his mistress and then killed himself by crashing his car with her body in the trunk."
5. "My grandpa can't have kids, but my mother still has three siblings…"
6. "My dad's first cousin is serial killer Kenneth McDuff. We saw the Americas Most Wanted episode when it aired and were so surprised to hear about a McDuff, not knowing he was a relative."
7. "I found out when I was about 32 that apparently, in 1973, my dad had a daughter he never knew existed. I found out because he texted that to me while I was working, after finding out about it himself about one week earlier. She was in her late 40's by that point, I think. What's sort of tragic is all this time, we thought I was my dad's only kid, and he always wanted a daughter but never got one due to marriages ending. He would have f*cking LOVED this girl. His daughter was the result of a one-night stand with a girl he never talked to again, and according to his daughter, the mother had a mental breakdown not long after giving birth and never really had custody of the daughter anyway. My dad never would have had any way to find out. The baby grew up with the mother's parents in another state, and the mother kinda went AWOL."
8. "I was told by my aunt (before my parents thought it necessary) that my dad had cheated on my mum and slept with a stripper and that I was her daughter and not actually my ‘mother’s.' I found out years later that my dad wasn’t actually my dad either — though he thought he was. Which is why he put his name on my birth certificate and brought me home when my birth mother wanted nothing to do with me. Fun times."
9. "Not exactly dark, but I found out my father wrote porn novels under a pen name to make ends meet when I was a baby. I've been trying to find one ever since."
10. "I knew my grandfather was a coal miner, and that he was really involved with the Union, but it wasn't til after he died that I found out just how much of a Union man he was... if something needed blowing up or someone needed to not be breathing anymore, they called Gramps. After he died, my brother remembers some men coming to visit Gran and giving her a lot of envelopes. She took off for a yearlong vacation in Europe after that."
11. "My dad's side of the family has ties with the mafia. Thankfully, my mom has long since divorced my dad, and they live a decent distance apart. I heard stories of my mom's parents, who lived close by at the time, circling the block in their truck late at night soon after the divorce to ensure no one was there to hurt us. I was very young at this point, probably like 3-4, so I really have no memory of this. I do remember one night our garbage can was burned to the ground, and my mom has since told me about death threats soon after the divorce. My mom, a couple of years ago, watched a documentary on prominent mafia families and noted multiple names that were at her wedding."
12. "My dad secretly had a vasectomy after I was born, after my mom lying to him about taking birth control resulted in my birth. Our family is GREAT at communication and conflict resolution."
13. "My extremely wealthy uncle was going downhill quickly with Alzheimer’s. Before he was too far gone, he apparently made a deal with my aunt that when things got to the point that they would have to send him to a nursing home, she would kill him instead. He wrote all of this in a letter and gave it to the attorney of their estate. When the time came, I don’t know why she chose to shoot him in the back of the head instead of something less violent, but she did. It was a pretty big trial with a fair bit of news coverage, and it really blew up when the lawyer testified and brought forward the letter. My aunt served like 2 years, I think, and was released on parole."
14. "I found out when I was in my early 30s that my mom hadn't only had four kids, but actually six. She gave two up for adoption before I was born. Also, I was the last baby she had with some rando before she married my stepdad, and she had intended to give me up for adoption, too. Silver lining? One of the babies she gave up contacted her a few years after I learned about this, and now I have an awesome new brother!"
15. "My grandmother married her second husband entirely for money. Her daughters both like to joke about her intentionally giving him a heart attack. He had heart problems but liked to eat unhealthy food, and the rumor goes she would put extra salt and butter on his food until he finally kicked the bucket."
16. "When I turned 21, my grandfather told me a story about his older brother that I had never heard. My great-uncle was a big boozer for most of his life. He passed at 92 and, by then, had switched from liquor to beer and wine; he also cut down to one pack of cigarettes a day instead of two after he had half a lung removed. Pap and my uncle grew up on a farm in the 30s and 40s. Mostly, the family ran the farm by themselves, but from time to time, they would hire drifters as farmhands. In 1950, my uncle and one of the farmhands were out drinking and driving back to the farm in my uncle's convertible. My uncle was driving and misjudged a turn with a steep bank on the right side. He ran the car up the embankment, which was steep enough to flip it. My uncle was thrown from the car, but the farmhand he was drinking with was only halfway out of the car when it landed. Pap said he was severed clean into two pieces."
"Because the farmhand was just a drifter without any family to make much fuss and because the Korean War had just started, my uncle was able to enlist and avoid any criminal charges. He was in Korea until the end of the war.
That was the only time I've ever heard that story told, and although I would never be someone who has more than a few drinks before getting behind the wheel, it's something that definitely sticks in my mind. And it's a story I'll tell my own kids when they get their license."
17. "Found out one of my close relatives was a trigger man for a crime family... was killed at his daughter's school functions."
18. "My great grandma died from a botched abortion after she got pregnant a seventh time."
19. "Just found this one out recently. My uncle was a doctor working in a small town hospital. He was married and had just had a baby boy. While his wife was pregnant or just had the baby, he had an affair with two nurses in the hospital and ended up getting one of the nurses pregnant. When he found out about the second kid, he took his family and f*cked off to New Zealand for three years. Upon returning to Canada and the same small town hospital, his wife immediately found out about his illegitimate child and divorced him. My (illegitimate) cousin stopped coming around to family events, and when I talked to him about it last year, he told me that my grandparents always blamed him for ruining my uncle’s marriage."
20. "My great aunt's husband killed his first wife, then killed her. They lived in Puerto Rico and he fled to NYC, so my great-uncles wouldn't kill him. They found out where he was, came here, killed him, and went home."
21. "My biological mother used to give me heroin and valium as a baby and toddler to control me, then drop me off at my grandmother's house when she couldn't afford to share, so I'd go through withdrawals, but no one would know what was wrong. Needless to say, I was put up for adoption to get me away from that."
22. "When I was very young, my family lived in a townhouse, and against all local bylaws, my mother decided to keep a horse in our backyard. Not only that, but it was an ex-racehorse that came as a package deal: the goat companion that slept in the closet of my nursery. I also later found out she was running a grow-op in the basement."