Having to keep a secret can be difficult. Keeping quiet about an issue is a tough thing to do, especially if sharing it will destroy someone else. What makes it even worse is sometimes these secrets are about one of the most important things ever: family.
People on Reddit share the family secret they can never share. Content has been edited for clarity.
"I used to work for the airport, and so got very discounted fares for friends and family. My mom was going on a trip with her friend to Key West and they were gonna drive since flying was too expensive. I talked her into letting me handle the flying arrangements, and they'd save a ton. A typical $500+ flight turned into like $250 for both of them combined. Well, I was still kinda new at booking reservations and what not, and I ended messing up the reservation. I think I only booked it for one way or something.
So the night before their flight, I rebooked it, and paid the $450 for the both of them (money I really didn't have) and have since never told my mom. It was for Mother's Day, so I figured that was my gift to her. It's been nearly 10 years since."
"My mother was abusive, verbally but also physically. She'd hit me in places no one would see, or rip clumps of my hair out when Dad was on the road for work. She probably has a personality disorder. She got in my face one night when I was coming home from my second job, and I had it. My mom like went through whole periods where she wouldn't work, I was killing myself every summer working 50+ hours to pay family bills in my parents' names and also get my younger sister to all of her activities. I had it. I tried to put Mom's head through a wall.
She started screaming, 'Oh, help! Help!' and I told her she could dish it out, she should also be able to take it.
I shoved her on the ground and kicked her repeatedly in the abdomen and thigh, while still trying to put her head through the wall with one hand (it's a plaster-and-lath situation, old house in New England). I really messed her up, and it felt good to do so. She's destroyed so many people's lives and she never faces any consequences for it. No one in our family ever helped me or called the police when she would abuse me. The only one who ever helped was the dog, if the dog was awake when my mom tried to start something she'd get between us, growl at mom until she backed down. I had always shown restraint and never hit her until this night. But my Dad did call the cops on me when I crossed that line.
The cops get there, split us up to interview, I explain my side and then just blurt out, 'Where were you guys when I was eight and she was doing that to me?'
The cop was taken aback, I think he could tell I was being honest and it was a culmination of years of horror and pain. He goes and talks to his partner, 'I think this isn't an assault, I think it's a mental illness thing.'
Then they basically intimidated my Mom and Dad into agreeing with them, they wouldn't let it go until they agreed it was a medical issue not a criminal one. So they called an ambulance and I went to the hospital as part of a 'diversion program.' Basically, they sent me to detox for three days and I emerged with no record, no charges, no nothing except a script for prozac and a recommendation for therapy (paid for by the state low income insurance plan).
Trying to kill my mom probably saved my life, honestly. Because I got myself some tools from a CBT/DBT therapist, but I'm not stupid enough to want people to know. Who would date me? How would I ever get promoted at work?
Anyway: be kind. You never know what someone's been through and you never know what people are capable of when pushed far enough."
"That my dad paid my mom $1500 for full custody of my youngest sibling. Not only would this be a massive blow to my sibling, but my dad remarried quite quickly and the new wife is the very definition of an evil stepmom.
If my sibling knew that our mom gave her up for such a small sum of money and the trade off was five+ years of abuse, she would be destroyed."
"My dad cheated on my mom and invited the person over when I was nine. She was a severely overweight woman, and my dad is also quite overweight. My parents were fighting but trying to work things out, they slept in separate rooms at this point.
Earlier that day, I had jumped on his bed and broke the board supporting it on the bed frame. I wasn't allowed to do this and always got in trouble for this reason.
My mom smelled the fact that my dad had company because she smoked, in my house.
She asked if I jumped on the bed. I said no. I feared I'd get in trouble. I was surprised there was no follow-up trying to prove my guilt.
Years later I remember why she asked and realize my lie basically incriminated him to sleeping with that woman. I'm sure he did, but that got him kicked out of my house."
"So my parents divorced when I was a baby, and my father got married with my (future ex-) stepmom. She got pregnant but wanted to get an abortion (she soon discovered my father was a terrible parent). At the last minute, she decided to keep the baby. My brother doesn't know he barely never existed. I discovered the trust in their divorce papers and had to swear to never tell anybody."
"When I was an awkward tween, my brothers and I spent a lot of time at my grandparents house.
We had been raised by my grandparents since we were little kids, and even after my dad remarried, he and my stepmom both worked graveyard shift so we would spend the night at my grandparents’ house while my parents were at work.
One day, my grandmother informed me that it was my grandfather’s birthday and suggested that I wish him a happy birthday. He was downstairs in the living room sitting on the sofa, and I went up to him and gave him a big hug around the neck and said 'Happy Birthday, Grandpa.'
It was kind of difficult to hug a person sitting down, so I ended up kneeling on the sofa between his legs rather than trying to hug him from a standing position. He was quite happy and gave me a hug back. When I pulled back from the hug, he held me in his arms and gave me a big smile.
And then he put his tongue in my mouth.
Sometimes when I was a little kid, we would kiss other family members on the mouth, but those were chaste pecks on the lips. I could tell immediately that this was different. His tongue was on my teeth. It lasted only for a moment and I was grossed out and confused when I pulled away. At that moment my grandmother walked into the living room. I turned my head to look at her; my hands were still on my grandpa’s shoulders.
She seemed really happy that I had wished my grandfather a happy birthday like a good little kid. I gave him a final quick hug and scrammed out of the room.
For the rest of my tween and teen years, I was always careful not to be alone in the same room with my grandfather. He passed away during my twenties, a good decade ahead of his time due to lifestyle-induced health issues, and my family chose me to speak at his funeral.
I had really complicated feelings about it because I did love him. My grandma and grandpa raised me, after all. Also, my grandfather was the rock of the family and after he passed away, the three branches (my dad and our family, plus his siblings and their families) gradually grew apart, and nothing was ever the same between us again. We don’t even spend Christmas all together anymore.
I’ve never told anyone in my family about it because I couldn’t break my grandmother’s heart. She’s survived her husband 10 years and still talks to and about him every day and visits his grave multiple times a week."
"I was a very naive teenager with irregular periods, and my friend thought it would be absolutely hilarious to buy those cheap pregnancy tests at Walmart and see what happened. We laughed the whole time, until one of them was positive. We couldn’t remember which was which, so we got two more and turns out it was mine. That was when it dawned on me that I had slept with someone (my school did not offer any kind of education in that subject, and my parents were useless in that regard). I panicked and swore my friend to secrecy.
I basically put it out of my mind until my clothes didn’t fit anymore. I was always close with my older cousin, and we were talking on the phone one night when she asked how school was going and I just dumped all of it on her. She came up with the perfect plan. It was already April and when I’d finally gotten the courage to go to Planned Parenthood, they’d told me I was due in August. So my cousin called my mom saying there was this amazing summer music program in her town that I just had to attend, and that I could stay with her the whole time. My mom thought it was great and the day after school ended I got on a plane to San Francisco. I stayed with my cousin, she went to all of my appointments with me, and she helped me find a social worker and eventually my daughter’s parents. When I arrived back home before my junior year of high school started, my mom asked me how my summer was without really caring and then remarked that I must’ve lost a few pounds.
My cousin died in 2012 in a car accident, and no one else knew apart from that one friend, the doctors I saw in Oakland, and the people involved in the adoption. I get a photo and a letter about the child once a year, and I send money for her college and a card for her birthday every year. When she turns 16, her parents are allowed to give her the cards if she wants them, but they are not permitted to pass any contact information along. I have no interest in meeting her or getting to know her personally. I know she’s safe and comfortable and that’s all I want. I will die before I tell anyone about her, and if my friend were to spill the beans I would deny it."
"My retired father finally got a smart phone. I offered to show him how to use, such as making calls, texting family members, and so on.
When I get to his place (he only had the phone about seven hours), his phone was running extremely slow for a new phone.
I open the running apps and all I see is a Cascade of open windows with the headers of 'dirty adult videos.' The man hadn't interacted with the internet before that 7 hours but he figured our how to find dirty videos before making a phone call.
I won't ever tell Mom, because she's the type that thinks watching those types of videos is along to cheating."
"My Great Uncle Val used to have factory on the Lower East Side of New York where the mob families used to meet back when they were really cracking down on organized crime. He did this because my grandfather had a serious gambling problem, and his daughter wanted to go to college. He’d make them all dinner and would let them wash their money through his garment business.
Say what you, want but my grandfather never got in trouble for gambling, his daughter went to dental school, we never had to pay for the retirement home, and every Christmas his family gets flowers and a fancy bottle from his hometown in Sicily."
"After my last final of the semester, my friend dropped me off at the bus station where I parked my truck. I got in, and as I was about to start the engine, a woman knocked on my window. I opened the door.
She asked me if I could take her home. I tried making excuses that my parents were waiting for me, but she pled and wouldn't take no for an answer. So I let her in.
She hopped in the passenger seat, and immediately her demeanor changed. She was ecstatic and began laughing in a crazy way. She introduced herself as Ashley and shook my hand, and that's when I noticed the hospital/mental asylum bands on her wrist. I knew I had made a mistake, but it was too late - she was already in my car.
I asked where she lived, and she told me to just drive off the lot and she'd tell me where to go. So I drove, and I let her give me directions until we ended up in a town I had never been to.
I knew we were lost, so I pulled into a McDonald's parking lot and asked her the name of her apartment. I typed it into my phone and realized we had driven 30 minutes in the wrong direction. It was about 1:30am at this point so I decided to take the highway. This was the first time I had ever taken the highway.
We were driving and every five minutes, Ashley would fall asleep and then wake up suddenly. I was afraid one time she would wake up and grab the wheel or grab me, so I drove fast.
We finally got to her apartment, I dropped her off, and I drove home.
I've never told my parents, or else they would never let me out of the house again.
"I started taking a lot of Adderall in 9th grade. I had three people who would regularly give me their pill because they didn’t want it. I was dumb and didn’t really know what it was, but wanted to take it.
Ends up, I loved it. My grades suddenly went up, I was happier and better to be around. My relationship with my parents started to get better since I was acting like a normal kid. My parents were the type to never put their kids on any type of behavioral substance though, and my relationship with them wasn’t too hot so I couldn’t like, bring it up.
All three of the peeps giving it to me stopped within a few days of each other. I had massive withdrawal, which, at the time, didn’t occur to me. I just thought I was super depressed for no reason. I was incredibly aggressive. Grades nose dived and my relationship with parents went awful again as they punished me for my 'bad attitude.'
I put it all together just a few years ago. Kinda interesting."
"I'm fairly certain my Grandfather inappropriately touched me, and I took the 'fun game' he taught me and spread it to my friends and siblings.
I don't have any memory of it happening. But around the time I was six, I remember having a 'fun game' called 'Love Making' that I'd happily share with other males, in private when no adults could find out. I don't remember where I learned this 'game,' but I'm 100% certain it's something I wouldn't have come up with on my own - especially not that particular name.
I also have a vague fragment of a memory from around that time of visiting my Grandfather's place. I was in his bedroom, digging into his dresser drawer to get some candy I somehow already knew was in that particular drawer in that specific spot, when the door to the bedroom opened; I looked at the door knowing I was in trouble and... that's all I remember.
However, when added to the fact that my Grandfather (a US citizen) died in Mexico from pneumonia, not because he wanted to retire in Mexico, but because he was fleeing charges being brought against him, stating he'd inappropriately touched several kids that lived in the same CA trailer park he was in...
And adding in that my Mother eventually admitted that she'd been victimized by him when her mother came storming in and ran him out of her room, and that she was fairly certain that her older sisters and brothers had also been his victims.
I've come to believe that I may have known where the candy in Grandpa's bedroom was, because it was a reward. For playing his fun game.
Which I spread to others.
I've been battling depression and thoughts of suicide ever since I realized what I'd been doing all those years. Still do, from time to time, but I eventually also realized that a 6-year-old can't have come up with that on his own."
"I was 11 when my dad died of cancer. During his final days (spent in a hospice), I was given the option to be by his bedside with the rest of my family, just quietly spending time with him when he was dying.
Well, the time I spent at the hospice was so boring. I loathed being around all these sad and dying people; it was Christmas, and I felt I was entitled to spend it at home. Why I didn’t take any consideration into the fact that my dad was literally on his deathbed is beyond me.
Every time we went to visit him, I’d just spend it playing dumb games on my phone or reading a book in the lounge outside his room. Again, I feel so terrible about saying it, but I knew he was going die anyway, and he was virtually unresponsive so why bother trying to talk to him? Again. Such a terrible thing to think.
He died at the beginning of January, just days after his birthday. That day, I chose not to spend by his side with the rest of my family, but at a friend’s house. I was simply too lazy and unbothered to go and see him. It was around 11pm when he died, and I was just falling asleep when my friend’s home phone rang, for what seemed like a million times. I thought it was a dumb advertising phone call, but then my friend’s parents came into the room and told me that my dad had died.
I wasn’t shocked that he died, but I was so unbelievably freaking guilty that I didn't even bother to spend the day there. I can't tell my mom, or it would break her heart."
"One day my father pulled my brothers and me into his room to talk and he told us, 'Your grandmother got onto her phone and saw some dirty adult videos on it' or something like that.
He said to come clean and he'll figure out what to do as punishment. So, he let us leave his room and my brothers started to talk about it throwing random accusations. I wasn't accused because I was nine at the time, but here's the thing: I was the one who did it, I will never tell anyone about it or else my parents will rip me a new one and get a new daughter."
"When I was seven years old, my father took me to a lake to fish. This lake had a big area where you could buy ice cream and there was a bathroom next to it. It was closed for the day, but the bathrooms remained operational.
I told dad I had to pee, he let me go by myself from our initial fishing area, about a three-minute walk. I get there and there are some teenagers hanging out by the bathrooms. Two girls and three boys. I walked into the bathroom and all but one followed me in. They were all laughing and carrying on, then the two girls grabbed me and held me down. The two remaining boys put their members in my mouth, and eventually my butt.
The girls laughed, showing absolutely no remorse. They attacked me for what seemed like an hour. After they were done attacking me, one of the girls looked me in the eyes and said if I told anyone, they would all kill my dad. I was in an awful mental state afterwards, and was extremely embarrassed by what had happened, so I just told my dad I fell on my butt and it hurts, no biggie.
I've held onto this for 22 years. Ever since then, I've wanted to kill myself. I also developed a hatred for teenage girls, and honestly have had horrible thoughts of violence against them."
"When I was around 11, I had a thing with kleptomania. I would go to friends house, my parents friends and through their belongings. Usually it was jewelry, when I grew up my parents wouldn't buy me any jewelry because I used to lose a lot of things, so me being this kid who I was I started to steal. Literally I couldn't help myself.
I always took something insignificant, like one pair of earrings, maybe a necklace, something that is laying on the bottom, or something I've never seen that person wear. It ended once I stole from my moms friend some stuff and on the same time this friend's 'boyfriend' robbed her. I went to the police with my mom and testified but kept my kleptomania to myself.
When I came back home, I threw everything I've ever stolen away and never stole anything again in my life. I'll take this secret to the grave."