I’m not sure that there is one single “normal” family out there. Like, if you think your family is normal, and you’re definitely not going to need therapy because of anything that happened to you growing up (or just after existing in your family growing up), I would venture to guess that your family is probably weirder than most.
The thing is, we just can’t imagine our families being strange because it’s our everyday reality – it’s normal to us, and it’s not until we grow up enough to start observing other people’s families that we sometimes realize that everybody’s is a little bonkers.
Including our own.
40. Choosing money over family.
“During my father-in-law’s unexpected sickness and end, my brother-in-law got greedy. While my wife was staying with my father in law at the hospital my brother in law proceeded to loot my father in law of as many of his earthly possessions as he could load up, and took it all to his house; my wife has never been allowed to go through these personal possessions.
After moving my father in law to hospice, to cover his tracks my brother in law proceeded to tell the entire family that I had st**en large amounts of money from my father in law. There was no truth to this whatsoever in any shape, form, or fashion. And in fact, after my father in law passed, my brother in law embezzled the estate funds $50k from the account— my wife ended up suing him and he had to return half.
This act tore the family apart; all because of greed. It’s been 6 years and I think about it every day, still.”
39. “That” side of the family.
“I married this woman a few years ago. After dating her a while, I could tell there was something strange about her family. She claimed that she didn’t know what part of the world her ancestors were from, didn’t know where her last name came from, her parents had blonde hair and blue eyes, but had Latino accents. I later found out their first language was Portuguese and they were from Brazil.
Anyway, about a year after we were married, she sat down with me and explained that her grandparents were avid Na**s who fled to Brazil in the mid-40s. She obviously didn’t like for people to know this, and had a hard time finding a way to tell me. I didn’t really care. I told her that I loved her for who she was and it didn’t matter who her grandparents were, all that mattered was who she was.
Anyway, it seemed important for her that I meet her relatives in Brazil, and apparently, her parents went there to visit every few years. So we planned the most bizarre trip of my life. When you first arrive, nothing seems off about the colony. They speak Portuguese and German, they have jobs, they drive cars, they don’t stand out in any way except that they look different than other Brazilians. The colony is isolated, and the few locals who are around don’t seem to care of really quite grasp what’s going on.
But once you start talking to people, you realize that they are deeply disturbed and have a deep-seated hatred for anyone who is different from them, especially Jews. I remember one conversation I had with her great uncle, a man who, I kid you not, had a H**ler mustache.
‘If you are going to be a part of this family you have to understand what we are planning. This is not some sad, little nursing home for the N**i way of life to pass, it is merely an incubator.’”
38. Why, though?
“My sister talked my ex-husband into suing me for full custody at the exact moment I was unable to contest it properly because I had just suffered a huge loss in month nine of my pregnancy.
She also foddered his case with lies to make me look like a terrible mother, while simultaneously patting me on the back and consoling me that he was a terrible man.
He didn’t win, but the case made things contentious for us for years and made it impossible to grieve with my now husband because I was in survival mode to make sure I didn’t lose my daughter.”
37. Different strokes, I suppose.
“Found out through an angry vent given by my mother, that most of my cousins aren’t legitimate, and most of my aunts had lied to their husbands about the true father of their children.
Also found out that there was a very large niche of the family I had never met and that no one really admits to – because they’re all inbred.”
36. I guess he got the girl.
My grandfather beat a man with a kitchen chair. He did not survive.
This happened back in the early 1950s, and the man was my grandmother’s lover.
35. Hypocrites at the helm.
“When I first started dating my girlfriend, I was invited to her very conservative Catholic parents’ 25th wedding anniversary party. I was hanging out with her and her 24-year-old older brother afterwords, and she was talking about how her mom found her birth control earlier that week and lectured her about how wrong premarital s^x was (we weren’t having s^x).
I quick did some mental math and said, ‘She shouldn’t talk since your brother’s birthday is in 5 months.’ They both looked at me with a crazy amount of shock on their faces. They had never figured that out.”
34. Big trouble.
My father exploited the deep web for money.
He bought and sold drugs, was suspected of trafficking/using extreme sites, and was convicted of operating traffic on a website that sold unsuspecting women’s identities and personal information.
33. A sad state of affairs.
“My grandmother’s cousin married a man she met in college. They had a daughter and were married for maybe 40 years. 3 years ago, he passed with cancer. We were not shocked at this. After all, he was approaching 70 and had a bad form of cancer, and it was spreading fast. We were prepared for this.
What we weren’t prepared for was that after he passed, his wife found a journal of his which explained that for 35 years, he was having another relationship with a man.
It was a shock to all of us. He was so committed to his wife, that he never left. But at the same time, it must have hurt him to stay silent for such a long time.”
32. The worst kid of stories.
My grandpa passed of AIDS, but the family lied and said it was cancer, because they didn’t want to stain his reputation as an upstanding citizen.
I still don’t know he he got it. Everyone pretends it never happened.
Same grandpa used to make up stories about my mom (his daughter) cheating on my dad, because he thought it was funny.
He continued doing it, even after he had to get her from the hospital because of the beatings that resulted.
31. I think a confrontation is in order.
“Thought my parents divorced just as a mutual agreement but my father had an affair. He was a cop and slept with his partner’s wife. Up there for biggest piece of garbage award. I was 6-years-old when this all happened, 19 now and just found out a couple months ago.
Father also hates me because I decided to get out of the Army after breaking both of my legs at airborne school. Found out he got out of the Marines for having flat feet that hurt. Aunt (his sister) told me that he drove from Georgia to Florida every weekend because he hated his time in the Marines so much.
Tries to tell me I am a wuss and disowned me.”
30. Oh my god.
Grandma was sitting in her chair, watching me play video games.
Not sure what triggered it, but she turns to me and says:
“When I was very young, I left my house in the middle of the night, and the old french man that lived at the end of our block took me into his basement and raped me. Nine months later when I gave birth, my mother and my doctor took the baby from me and smothered it.”
I didn’t really know what to say. I put the controller down, hugged her, told her I was sorry and sat there in silence with her.
She said she didn’t want to talk about it any further and just needed to tell someone.
29. Quite a legacy.
“My mom was born in Colombia and moved to the U.S. when she was 12. I never knew much about her family, and was told multiple variations of sugar coated stories by other family members whenever I tried to find out more about my family history.
I was already aware that the Italian side of my family (paternal) had ties to the mob in NJ and eventually moved to Miami where my parents would eventually meet. Through Google, I also found out that my grandfather was a snitch, ended up in the witness protection program after being implicated in a m**der and being indicted for selling massive amounts of coc**ne. Ok, I thought, I can deal with that knowledge. Not cool about the coke, but maybe my mom’s side wasn’t so bad?
Thanks to ancestry websites and Google, I soon discovered multiple newspaper articles from the 1980s that would indicate that my maternal Colombian grandparents were the leaders of a massive pot sm**gling ring which, at the time, was referred to as the largest pot sm**gling operations ever carried out in the U.S. Both my grandparents were sentenced to over 250 years each, but after that my trail ran cold and I do not know how or when they shuffled off this mortal coil.
Family rumors would have me believe that my grandfather passed of a heart attack in the clink soon after hearing of my grandmother’s demise. My mom never talks about it and I don’t feel comfortable asking. Very few of my friends know about it, but I must say I find it ironic that my Italian paternal grandparents were coke dealers, while my Colombian maternal grandparents were prolific pot sm**glers.”
28. Curiouser and curiouser.
My great aunt disappeared in her early 20s, no one ever heard from her.
Flash forward 5 years, and her brother is in Chicago on business.
He leaves the office he was for the day and sees her just walking down the street.
He calls her name to make sure he’s not just seeing things, and low and behold she turns around and sees him. He stops her, asks “What the heck?” and she proceeds to dodge questions.
She then invites him to the apartment she had been living at, promising that she’ll explain everything, and they head there.
As soon as they get there, brother starts firing the questions at her.
She tells him to give her just a minute, she’s going downstairs to the shop across the street to buy some cancer sticks, because this is all a huge shock to her as well. Brother, for some reason, decides to let her go alone.
She never came back and was never seen again.
We still have no idea what happened.
27. The statute of limitations has expired.
“My mom and I cared for her father as he deteriorated with old age. As his mind went he told stories from WWII, from his youth, and about my grandmother’s first husband.
My grandpa had a crush on her before WWII but never acted on it because he was dirt poor. He lied about his age and joined the Navy when he was somewhere between 14 and 16 so he could be respectable. So he could be worthy of her.
While he was away she married a man her parents liked. Her first husband beat her badly, would get wasted and attack her then call her mean names and make her sleep in the barn. She stayed because divorce wasn’t something you did at the time.
My grandpa got back, all snazzy in his uniform, and was told she’d married and where she lived. He showed up to say hello and there she was, a bloody mess. He took her to the Doctor, got her cleaned up, and convinced her to divorce him.
A year later they were married. Her ex kept showing up to harass them.
The story we’d always been told is that her ex finally got the hint and moved away.
The story my grandpa told me, in a lucid moment, was basically this:
‘I hated him for what he’d done to her. I knew he’d never leave her alone. I made sure he’d never bother her or any other woman again.’
I think my grandpa confessed to doing in his wife’s ex husband.
What you have to keep in mind is that this was a very rural part of the Midwest in the 40s.”
26. Grounds for divorce.
My aunt caught her husband having s*x with his mother in the bathtub after she came home from work.
Needless to say, immediate divorce.
25. She must have been pretty sure.
“My parents used to always joke about how ‘we picked the wrong boy at the hospital.’ I never thought much of it. A year ago (I’m now 17), they told me that when I was born in the almost exact time as a boy whose parents abandoned him. The boy was almost the same size as well.
Now, you’d think that this would never happen, but I was born in China at a hospital that somehow mixed us two up. Essentially, they weren’t exactly sure if I was the son of my parents. My mom looked at the two of us and swore that I was the one, despite the nurses’ tags stating otherwise.
Genetic tests were (relatively) expensive then and were refused by my mother. They didn’t care at the time since there was no parent to claim the other boy.
Now, I’m about to go off to college, and I have no intention of finding out whether or not I’m the biological son. Strange when I think about the other boy though. People always say I do look like my parents though, so I have little doubt that mother knew best.”
24. He said he’d handle it.
Once, our small three-person family in East Boston got robbed. Someone broke in, and the main thing they took was my grandmother’s prized jewelry from Italy.
I am young, possibly less than ten years old, watching my Italian grandfather have an exchange with the po-po. He politely declines all their offers to help.
He makes a couple of calls once they leave. Shortly, the phone rings, and my grandfather answers. He speaks Italian, I don’t understand it. Then, he goes and gives my grandmother a kiss and heads out the door.
He said a certain phrase when he hung up the phone. In those days I would imitate the sensational dialect pronunciations of my family’s Italian language and the closing thing grandpa said stuck with me, so I was blurting it out like a brat, not realizing the situation that had occurred with the fuzz and the jewelry.
I was saying, “blow-calla-por,” over and over again until finally it dawned on me this was a new phrase I’d never heard.
So, I asked Grandma what it meant.
She told me, “Lock the door.”
So, years later my mother explained the significance of this story by telling me that a friend of Grandpa’s had called him and told him that two guys were trying to hock Grandma’s jewelry at a local Italian cafe.
And, the last thing my grandfather said to those guys on the phone was a heavily dialect-drawled version of “bloccare la porta.”
“Lock the door.”
I don’t know what he did, but he came back with all the missing jewelry fifteen minutes or so later.
23. No faith to do the job.
“My great uncle, who became a Catholic priest at a young age, came out to his parents as an atheist while in seminary. They threatened to disown him if he ever told anyone else, or if he left the seminary (They came from a small town near Boston; I guess it would have been social suicide back then).
So he stayed, became an excellent priest, and apparently never told anyone until my dad asked him for advice when he was considering the priesthood as well. He swore my dad to secrecy until he (my great-uncle) was dead, because he was afraid of the impact it would have on his congregation if they found out.
I discovered all this about a year and a half ago, when my dad was extremely inebriated and ranting against religion. Completely shook my view of my great-uncle and great-grandparents – they always sounded like the model family, and my uncle was an amazingly peaceful and humble man, didn’t stop working in the community until shortly before his passing three years ago.
If anything I think it made me respect him more, in the end.”
22. He expired of shame.
We never told my 90 year old aunt how her son REALLY bit it.
She thinks it was a heart attack, when he really hung himself in a cell following a DD arrest.
21. An ill-timed joke.
“We had a family Christmas dinner a few years ago where my aunt and uncles from both sides were staying over at our house. There were probably 10 or 11 of us at the dinner table, and everyone is getting along well like we always do. My cousin, around 14 or 15 at the time, brings up something about how he laid a massive poop earlier that day. The kids laugh and the adults were like ‘that’s not table conversation.’
Then I jump in and say ‘haha yea, there’s things we don’t talk at the dinner table, like politics and illegitimate children.’ Every adult at the table drops their eyes to their plate and goes silent. I’m sitting there like uhhhh, what in the Woody Allen movie is so awkward about all this.
What I didn’t know is that my uncle had an illegitimate child many years ago and thats always been a point of contention between my aunt and him. They also had been arguing about that earlier in the day, and all the adults knew it.
Hahah man, that was jokes. But seriously though, never make jokes about illegitimate children unless you are absolutely sure no one has one.”
20. Days we hope to never see again.
My great great grandmother’s niece passed while on “a surprise trip to see a relative in another state”.
She actually got blood-po**oning from my great great grandmother giving her an at-home abo**ion.
19. The consequences of her actions.
“I am named after my great aunt. I was told by my mother and my grandmother that she passed a few years before I was born in a terrible motorcycle accident. I was also told never to bring up my great aunt’s name around my great grandmother as the loss of her daughter still troubled her. Understandable. Nothing was ever mentioned or said and I grew up understanding only the barest of details about her and her passing. A little odd to not know much about the person I was named after, but, whatever.
When I was 24, my great grandmother passed. At the meal after her wake, my great uncle gets tipsy and starts letting all the family secrets fly out.
In passing, he mentioned my great aunt’s suicide and everyone at the table solemnly nodded their heads, except for me. ‘What suicide?’ I asked, ‘Gran told me she passed in a motorcycle accident.’
‘Yeah, that was the cover story,’ he replied, ‘Your great grandmother was too embarrassed to tell anyone what really happened and she had to explain the closed-casket at her daughter’s funeral.’
I came to find out my great aunt was a lesbian and in love with a woman from her university. The other woman felt the same way and they hatched plans to figure out a way to be together without their parents knowing. When my great grandmother discovered their plans, she went mental and sent my great aunt half way across the country to separate the two. Little did she know that both women had made a suicide pact that if this were to happen, they would shoot themselves in the head, which they did. My great grandmother, in her hom**hobia, caused two young women, in love, to kill themselves.
Apparently she never forgave herself for what she did and it haunted her till the day she left her body.
After I found out the truth, I was first incredulous that my entire family had lied to me about the origin of my name, and second, I was deeply disturbed that to ease my great grandmother’s guilt and shame everyone accepted the lie.
Since then, I tell as many people the truth as are willing to listen so that my great aunt’s memory is served. Which is why I am posting this here. Every year since I found out, I have attended Pride. I donate to LGBT charities. I volunteer for LGBT organizations. All in her memory. If certain resources and volunteer organizations existed then as they do now, I might have a totally awesome, motorcycle-riding, great aunt to hang out with.”
18. An unwelcome revelation.
Before my parents split up, I found out that they were swingers.
I was around 13 at the time, and my mom left up her computer when she went to bed that night, so I got excited, because you know, late night MySpace.
Anyway, when I got on, I saw that there was a pictures tab open, so I clicked on it, and guess what I found?!
A video of my mom and dad f**king “family friends.”
Then, I realized that whenever me and my family went and stayed all night at these people houses, it was so they could go at it, and I could watch TV in their living rooms.
17. Everyone has a job to do.
“All this time my family thought that my weird Hungarian last name meant ‘boat builder.’
Well, recently we were enlightened to learn that the closest meaning is actually ‘man who goes around the village at night and picks up the poop buckets from doorsteps.’”
16. There’s a feather in your cap!
I’m related, by marriage, to a man who got caught f**king horses.
He even went to jail over it.
Neigh means neigh!
It’s my husband’s uncle.
No, I didn’t marry the horse-f**ker.
15. A wild, twisted ride.
“My dad recently told me a family story of one of his older, distant relatives; we’ll call her Jill.
Jill was a ‘plain’ looking girl who was raised on a small, country farm. Being a bit of a quiet tomboy, she didn’t go to school, but took care of the farm’s horses instead.
One day in her teenage years, Jill was in the stables when something spooked one of the horses. It reared up and kicked Jill in the face. Since there was very limited medical surgery, she ended up somewhat disfigured and scarred. She withdrew from much of society and lived solely on the farm as a hermit. Years of isolation pass and one day, Jill vanishes.
Perhaps her immediate family knew, but no extended family were ever told what happened. That is it, until they were notified of her passing four years later. You see it turns out, Jill had run away and enlisted in the army. She had fought overseas in WWII, and had been KIA.
Now that might not seem like much of a story, but keep in mind that only men fought in WWII. Jill had somehow managed to pose as a man for four years in the army without being detected, and it was her end that gave her away.
Considering the rest of my family history isn’t very exciting, I think it’s a pretty cool story.”
14. A real plant lover.
20-30 years ago, there was a thief in the town my family lived in. The person would break in and nab anything valuable plus their plants.
This goes on for a few months, and my family starts noticing my uncle is giving away a lot of random plants to family members.
Somebody found a stash of house plants in his house, and that was the final straw.
Turns out my uncle was into some weird drugs at the time, and he would break into places while high and take plants…
Then, he’d wake up the next day with a house full of plants and try to give them away.
13. A family reunion.
“So my grandfather is roughly 80 and has five kids (one of which is my father) all ranging from ages 40-50. Well about three years ago, he had a knock on the door, and it turns out that he had a family before he met my grandmother in Iowa and never told anyone.
He had married his first wife in California when he was sent out there in the Navy, and had two or three kids with her. He went and got himself deployed, and she apparently left with the kids while he was gone. Being the mid 1900s, he never found them, so he went on a cross country trip to New York for some reason.
Luckily for me, he met my grandmother and had five kids, never telling anyone about his former life. From what we understood he graduated school, went into the Navy after working on some farm for a couple years, and tried to go to New York before getting snagged by my grandma in Iowa.
Well while he was doing this, apparently wife #1 was moving around the country as well, and every couple years, put those kids in adoption, busted them out of adoption, had three more kids from three different dads, but kept my grandpas same last name. So one of the original first kids went on a mission to find my grandpa, found him, and they all came to visit.”
12. All in the family.
My grandmother got out of her bad relationship by running away with her husband’s brother.
So, some of my dad’s siblings are half-sibling, half-cousins.
11. An open secret.
“An ex of mine was telling me that her father made films as a hobby of sorts and he actually had some success on the indie horror cult classic scene. So one day I was bored and decided to Google his name and found a bunch of his films.
In most of them, the main character was my ex’s mother and she had at least one full frontal nudity scene in each. She was pretty attractive and I’m open-minded about nudity anyways, but I have to say I felt a little weird when I watched one of the s^x scenes between the mother and the father.
I couldn’t look her in the eyes after that point.”
10. So many questions.
My mom is not my mom.
My real mom apparently overdosed when I was 6 weeks old, and I was found by someone coming to collect money from her.
His girlfriend got mad at him for taking a child…
I don’t know all the details of how my “mom” ended up with me, but she went back to Arizona a year later and told everyone in her family she got pregnant while traveling with her band and didn’t know who the dad was.
9. You can take advantage of family…but you shouldn’t.
“One of my uncles borrowed $20,000 from my other more successful Uncle to start a business and refuses to pay his more successful brother back because he’s “got so much money already”.
The more successful uncle refuses to sue him because that’s not what family does, but they are no longer on speaking terms.”
8. This story is all-too common.
My mom was apparently “adopted” through the Catholic Church.
We honestly all thought that my grandma who adopted her just donated enough money that the church found her an orphan from South America.
My mom was pretty resentful over that till the end.
I think now my mom really was a black market baby from the 1950s.
7. An enterprising addict.
“I had a cousin who was addicted to substances and his parents were always doing stuff to bail him out and keep him from being homeless. One time they put down a deposit and paid rent for a furnished apartment for him. He ended up selling the furniture for money.
Another time they rented a mobile home for him and couldn’t figure out why the water bill was so high. Turns out he was charging his homeless friends $1 to take a bath/shower and that was going on pretty much around the clock.”
6. The secrets parents keep.
After my mom passed, my dad was plastered and told me that my mom was married before she met my dad.
My dad was in a gay relationship when they met. His boyfriend left him suddenly, and he married my mom shortly after her divorce.
They raised us strongly Catholic, so finding this out was a huge WTF moment.
5. That’s called karma, friends.
“My cousin tried to really hurt me when I was 6.
He loosened the bolts in my coffee table, told me to lay under it, and hit it so it fell on me.
It ruined the nerves in my two front teeth and had to get them pulled out.
But now my cousin is fat, can’t walk, and has to wear diapers while spiraling into depression, so it all turned out well in the end.”
4. Little kids are SO weird.
My cousin ate my grandpa.
She was a toddler, and we were all spreading his ashes across the family farm.
When it got to her, she did what toddlers do and grabbed a handful and just started chomping down.
It was pretty funny to me as an 8 year old, but we aren’t allowed to tell her about it.
She’s now 19, and I’m DYING to let her know.
3. There’s got to be more to this story…
“My dad’s wife told me that he was gone when he wasn’t.
I only found out months later when a relative said he’d recently had an operation and was doing well.
I emailed her and said, “I believe dad has perked up a bit?” She didn’t respond.”
2. So much undo shame.
When I was seventeen, my father broke down and told me he had fathered another child 16 months before I was born with a woman who was not my mother and that everyone in my family knew about it except me.
My brother was solely raised by his mother, and my dad didn’t even meet his son until he was 13 years old, all while raising me with my mom in what seemed to be a totally normal marriage.
And yeah, even my mom knew about it.
Basically she and my dad came to an agreement: that if he had nothing to do with his son and the other woman, they could make things work.
My grandparents would hide the pictures of my brother when we’d visit for the holidays; I mean EVERYONE knew.
I’ve always felt some guilt being the kid my father chose…
But fortunately, my brother and I are very close, and my dad and brother have been forming a solid relationship over the past few years.
1. Couch cruising grandma.
“My grandmother said she needed a place to stay one night due to issues with her housemate.
She slept on the couch…for the next ten years.
Made no effort to get her own place despite having a very good retirement income and still working part-time as a nurse.
Loved to hit the casino though.”
I think that’s plenty of proof that everyone’s family has some weirdness (and maybe some skeletons, too).
If you were going to out your family on a list like this, what story would you share? Please, by all means, drop it in the comments!