People Reveal The Thing No One Talks About In Their Family
Every family has secrets. Sometimes they are so taboo that no one is allowed to bring them up - like when a parent has a secret kid, or when your grandparents turn out to have been bootleggers during prohibition (pretty cool if you ask me though).
Submissions have been edited for clarity, context, and profanity.
Dad has a secret kid.
Apparently our dad had another kid about 8 years older than me. My mom blurted something about it after their divorce when she was pissed about something. It was along the lines of "if he thinks he can forget you exist like that other kid of his...", she then turned very white and I was never able to get more out of her than that. My dad pretends he doesn't know what I'm talking about but has apparently told my brother a bit of the story and then backtracked and never talked about it again. So yeah, apparently I'm not the oldest.
The brother who died long ago.
My brother who died. We never ever talk about him. It's so strange, growing up I knew I had a brother and I knew he was hit and killed by a car walking home, but I don't know anything about him aside from that. I've seen his pictures, I know what he looked like. I don't know anything about his personality, his likes or his dislikes, the type of music he listened to... I once found his comics in my mom's closet when I was younger but that was about it. It is almost like it's just a story and he wasn't a real person. It wasn't until my grandfather died about 11 years ago and my mother and I walked to his grave. She broke down into an inaudible mess, then it really hit me for the first time ever that he was a real person, as crazy as that sounds. I don't understand that pain of losing a child but it hurt to see my mom mourn like that, almost as if it had just happened.
The only time since then he was ever mentioned was by my dad a few months ago. Out of my mother, father and sisters I'm the tallest, my dad told me how the only one of us who was taller than me was Jimmy and how he always seemed to keep growing, how he probably would have towered over me. I almost cried, I wish I got to know him.
Update: as someone had suggested in the comments I could check for archived information either by visiting a library to look for a news article and/or obituary. I tried to search online for these things with no luck. I did however find archived year books. I searched a couple before I found the school he went to. The first book was for '86, and on my phone I couldn't find '87 (the year he died). Once I got to a computer I was able to find it. After the sophomore class page there was a nice memoriam for him. Also I had his age wrong as I realized reading his memoriam, I had taken the year he was born and the year he died and came up with 16, when in fact he died before his birthday that year, making him only 15. It was nice to read kind words about him and his apparent love for music. I've linked it below with his last name blurred and his picture cropped out (the name at the bottom is not his last name, I'm assuming it's the person who wrote it):
Since seeing this I now feel the NEED to know what happened. Before I had felt sad about it and decided I'd just never know. After this it has in a way lit the fire to find out anything and everything I can. I'm nervous to ask family but I just may, I will be doing what I can to find out anything on my own first.
A crazy custody battle.
The fact that my cousin got kidnapped when he was a baby. Long story short, two young teenagers got knocked up, got married, aunt wanted a divorce but husband was abusive and manipulative, and she fled out of state back to us (her family). He followed her to try to talk it out, she let him inside to talk, he took my baby cousin who was sleeping in her arms, and fled out of state. Then he took her to court for abandoning her child and refused to let her see him. 20 years later, my cousin seeks us out and we all reconnect. Thanksgiving dinners are great, but we don't talk about that whole ordeal.
To The Nunnery
My grandfather's brother was a priest when he was younger. His wife of 40+ years used to be a nun. Their first child was born a few months after they left.
When I was growing up, I always heard stories about my dad as a kid hanging out in his mom's tavern. The first time we visited his home town, he showed us his house, which is on a crossroads and split-level - front door goes to the top floor, "basement" (or lower floor) opens out the back, which has a small road / parking area and that's where the tavern was.
It wasn't until many years later that it dawned on me that my dad grew up during Prohibition... grandma was a bootlegger...
It gets better...
- His home town is on a road that was considered a "bootlegger's highway" from Canada
- He went through jump school in the same class as Henry Hill (whose life Goodfellas was based on)
- One night in my teens a friend of his (who I'd never heard of) knocked on the door at 10pm. He and his two buddies (all italian) wanted a place to sleep for the night. They were gone in the morning.
- His pension and the work he did after he retired couldn't possibly explain our lifestyle
Mom has forbidden me from digging into it any further.
That My parent's died from AIDS in the early 90s when I was 2.
Growing up I never knew how my mother died, and I was told my father just "dissapeared". I remember throwing a tantrum in middle school for wanting to know what really happened to my parents. My aunt finally told me the truth (well more yelled at me about it). I remember crying alone in my room for hours. I'm pretty sure their death was the starting point for how... strange my family is.
Anyhow my family hasn't mentioned it since then and I'm now 27. As far as I know we've never said the words HIV or AIDS aloud in my family. If it must be talked about it's "that disease" or something similar.
My friends constantly wonder why I never mention my parent's and I still have hangups telling people why/how they passed away. It makes me feel so conflicted inside because I know I should have nothing to feel ashamed of but my family and society makes me feel my parent's deaths should be swept under the rug.
edit: i want to make it clear we do talk about my mother. She isn't forgotten. Just her death and the exact cause is something that is avoided at all costs.
My grandfather remarried a women who almost immediately developed Alzheimers and forgot who he is. He is now dating his first wife while his actual wife is confused who anyone is. He refuses to divorce because the scumbag family of his second wife bailed when they saw how expensive she was going to be, and my family had to get her care because she was too much for my grandfather to take care of (he is almost 90.) I called out the relevant members of her family for bailing and was told I was being rude, which might be true, but I'm also fucking right.
My great grandfather was a member of the Nazi party, oddly enough my Grandma(his daughter) is the coolest/most tolerant banana in the bunch
Paying It Forward
I've got an unspoken thing that's actually quite a bit different. As far as I know, my dad started this. I learned from him, and will hopefully also pass it on the same way.
When I was a kid, my dad took me to Wal-Mart about a week before Christmas. Not unusual, really. I was around 12 or so at the time. Old enough to understand what was happening. We went to the service desk, and my dad got out his checkbook. He asked the person behind the counter to pick a layaway at random, and he would pay it off. The lady didn't seem too fazed by this, so I assumed she maybe had seen him do this before, or maybe my dad wasn't the only person who came up with this idea.
Anyway, he paid off the layaway thing, and then he brought me across the lobby to the McDonald's there. I asked him what he did, and he just smiled. He said something along the lines of him paying it forward. I don't remember exactly what was said, but that was the general idea I remember about it. 12 year old me didn't have a talent for storing memories. I thought a lot about this, but I could never do it myself with my allowance, plus I wanted to buy GameBoy games at the time.
My dad died about ten years ago. It was sudden; unexpected. It was also 3 days before Christmas. Now, I'm sure you know where this is going, but for me, this was a rough time. We had family in for the holidays, and my mom was a wreck. I was the oldest, so I had to step up and make all the arrangements. My siblings were pretty shaken up as well, but they helped how they could.
On Christmas Eve, I went to K-Mart (no other store in my area still did layaway). I walked to the back of the store to the layaway center. I did the thing my dad taught me for the first time. I asked for the lady to pick out a person at random, and I paid off their ticket. I thanked her for her time, and walked out. I didn't make a big deal of it, and I have never mentioned this to anyone other than my wife.
Every year, a week before Christmas, I go to K-Mart and pay off a layaway item. I don't tell anyone I'm doing it. I just do it. I do it in memory of my dad. I do it for myself. I do it to give someone out there a nice Christmas. I wish I remembered what my dad told me that day, but I do remember the conversation being selfless and basically just making someone else happy for a change.
I plan to do this with at least one of my own kids. I'm sharing it with you guys not for karma, praise, or recognition. I don't know any of you guys. I just hope that maybe some of you could make a struggling family really happy this year in an anonymous way. Let them believe in the magic of Christmas just for one year.
EDIT for non-US people: Layaway is an in-store program that lets you reserve an item in the store and pay it off over time. Once you've paid it off, you get the item.
Well, that's awkward.
That time my sister stole thousands of dollars from my father's business while working there.
Wow, they still speak to her?
My father doesn't trust her, but we still get together at least once every couple of weeks for dinner like nothing ever happened.
The gay uncle.
My uncle and his "friend" who's been around since I have memory (almost 30 years). They've never had a female companion, they live together, damn they even owned a gay bar at some point. Very Catholic family so that's probably why they never came out.
I thought it was something they kept from us "the kids" all these years until I had the courage to ask my dad and he said that's never been discussed, that he has never even asked my mom about it.
That seem happy and travel all the time so that's awesome. I just wish they could just be who they are around their loved ones.
Drugs destroy families.
I thought it was that my aunt was hardcore into drugs. Turns out nobody knew. To be fair I didn't "know" per-se but it was so obvious that I thought everybody knew but didn't mention it.
My family was blown away when she got busted going to Florida to buy pills so she could resell them here. I was like, "yeah, duh."
Reminds me of my cousins ex-wife. She always looked zonked out, and worked at a nursing home so I figured she was stealing meds. Everyone was super confused after she collapsed at my other cousins wedding after having a few drinks. apparently she had a lot of pain killers in her system.
My mom said that she didn't know what somebody on drugs looked like. I was like she doesn't act normal at all.
Suicides are truly an epidemic.
The numerous suicides. It's FINALLY getting to the point where they admit that these people even existed, let alone died. One of my great uncles killed himself before I was born and if not for all the group photos and my great aunt being a decent human, I wouldn't have ever known his name. My mom likes to pretend they died in "car accidents" or "heart attacks." It made for some real confusion once I got older.
Huntingtons disease. My grandpa died from it, my uncle is getting worse and worse and my niece and nephew have 50% to get it. We all pretend it isn't there because it's difficult to talk about,especially since my grandma is still alive. She knows how it will be.
Think your family is weird?
OK, to break the chain of secret girlfriends and estranged relatives, my family does not talk about cottage cheese.
I can tell you want to hear more about this, for that we must start at the beginning. My father is a lover of all things dairy. He would drink so much milk as a child his mother would tell him "You either have to become a dairy farmer, or marry a farmer's daughter". And dear dad did just that when he and my mom tied the knot.
Dad also loves cheese; solid cheese, soft cheese, and... cottage cheese.
Dad is however, very squeamish. He cannot stand the sight or thought of blood, body fluids or .... cheese curds. This makes enjoying his cottage cheese (by the quart) difficult. No one is allowed to talk about cheese, curds, whey, or how it is all made when he is enjoying his snack. If you make the mistake of mentioning any of these things dad ends the conversations by throwing his hands in the air and yelling "WE DON'T TALK ABOUT THAT!"
That's so strange that he's squeamish about body fluids but loves milk and cheese! He knows milk is quite literally a body fluid, right?
- How a DNA Testing Kit Revealed a Decades-Old Family Secret | Time ›
- Operation Family Secrets - Wikipedia ›
- Camille Bordas on Family Secrets | The New Yorker ›
- 3 Types of Family Secrets and How They Drive Families Apart ... ›
- Family Secrets Restaurant - 114 Photos & 109 Reviews - Southern ... ›
- Family Secrets on Apple Podcasts ›
- Listen Free to Family Secrets on iHeartRadio Podcasts | iHeartRadio ›
- Family Secrets Podcast ›
- Family Secrets | Dani Shapiro ›
- Family Secrets: A Whispering Pines Mystery - Kindle edition by ... ›
Racism is an insidious, and unfortunately prevalent, force in all of our daily lives. Maybe we're on the receiving end of it, being treated differently and losing opportunities because of others' preconceived notions.
Or maybe we're on the other side of things. Even those who aren't actively racist or discriminatory still have to process the world through the filters of the things they've been told about people who are different.