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).

Sweet_Baby_Breesus asked, What is the "Thing we don't talk about" in your family?

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.


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.


Prohibition Act

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.


Hidden Death


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.


First Wife

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.


Excuse me?

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?


Image by Foundry Co from Pixabay

Now that college has become a standard requirement for so many jobs and careers, there is a massive push by high schools to get their graduating students accepted and enrolled at an undergraduate college.

On the whole, that's undoubtedly a great thing. A more educated workforce will be prepared to solve the most complex issues facing human beings in the next several decades.

Keep reading... Show less
Image by Gianni Crestani from Pixabay

*The following article contains discussion of suicide/self-harm.

The person on the other end of a 911 call has a truly remarkable job.

For those who don't play that professional role, we hope to never encounter the 911 call interaction. But if we do find ourselves making that call, the moment is an anomaly in our lives.

The chaos, the panic, the racing heart, and the desperation are all emotions we, ideally, don't experience on a regular basis.

But for the operator on the other end, our call is one in a long line of calls they've received all day, and all the workdays before that one.

It's difficult to imagine being embedded in those uniquely urgent, emergency moments all the time.

Some Redditors who are on the other end of that call shared their experiences on the job.

WhimsicalxxButcher asked, "911 dispatchers what has been your most creepy/unnerving call?"

For a few, the most unnerving moments were the calm callers.

There was something just so eerie about how level-headed the faceless human being on the other end could be through such a desperate, tragic moment.

Almost Clinical 

"I had a friend who worked as a 911 dispatcher and he always said the worst call he ever had was a ~20 year old kid who committed suicide by mixing a bunch of chemicals together in his car to produce hydrogen sulfide gas."

"He said that the most unnerving part was hearing him calmly listing off the chemicals, the type of gas produced, and the effects of hydrogen sulfide on the body (namely the almost instant death it causes at high concentrations)."

"He ended the call by providing the address of the parking lot he was in and saying that nobody should approach the vehicle without hazmat equipment."

"Apparently after that there was a whooshing sound as he dumped the last chemical into the mix, and then the line went dead silent aside for a quiet fizzing noise."

"I know that call screwed him up because he almost never talks about stuff that happens to him on the job. He quit a few months later to go into construction management, and frankly I can't blame him."

-- iunoyou

Planned Out 

"A woman called me, saying she was going to kill herself. She was gassing herself. Gave me her name & address then said she was just going to lie down and 'go to sleep.' And stopped responding to me."

"I kept the line open, trying to get her to speak to me, and eventually heard officers forcing their way in to find her body. I guess she just wanted someone to find her body."

-- mozgw4

Before It Set In 

"When I got a call from a 6 year old who got home from school and laid down to take a nap with his dad. His dad never woke up."

"The kid was so calm when calling it broke my heart."

"I ended up leaving dispatch shortly after. I was good at compartmentalizing the job for the year I was doing it, but it would've broken me in the long run."

-- tasha7712

Other 911 operators were unfortunate enough to receive a call from the very last person they wanted to hear from: a loved one.

These dispatchers' unique position gave them the unexpected access to a family member or friend at their most dire moments.

No More of That 

"My family member is a long time first responder, and 'retired' into doing dispatch. He heard the address (someone else was taking the call) and realized it was his daughter's house."

"He rushed over there just in time to see them wheeling her body out. Overdose."

"Five months later, he was called to his ex-wife's place because his grandson (son of the daughter who recently passed) had his door locked, lights on, but wasn't responding to his grandma."

"He broke the door down and found him deceased in bed. Overdose."

"He's very stoic after years of all sorts of traumatic situations but my heart hurts whenever I think of what all of this must have felt like. Like sand through your fingers."

-- bitchyhouseplant

Knowing the Address

"Not me, but my grandma. I was sitting in the dispatch office, (very small one only 2 dispatchers including my grandma) but she put out a dispatch that there was a gun shot from my best friends address."

"My heart sank to my stomach and broke later that day. He committed suicide."

-- OntaiSenpuu

When it Happened 

"My uncle passing away. Worked as a small town dispatcher for a year or so. Had a bunch of messed up stuff happen on shift, but this call came in in the still hours of the night. Small town, so not many calls after midnight."

"I answered and recognized the name and address on caller id. Aunt was in a frenzy so didn't recognize my voice. I remained calm and got ems and fire rolling to them, but by my aunt's own words he was already blue."

"I went thru debriefing and mandated therapy for a couple other things that happened, but never really talked to anyone about this. I just try not to think about it."

"That was the call I figured out I needed to find a different job."

-- dangitjon

Finally, some simply had a front row seat to sudden tragedy.

These operators were flies on the wall when disaster struck. They never asked to witness what they witnessed, but sometimes that came with the territory.

A Holiday Tragedy 

"My mom is a 911 dispatcher. Early on she said one Christmas Eve while working she got a call from an elderly lady who's husband had just collapsed(and died) from a heart attack and in the background Alvin and the Chipmunks Christmas music was playing on blast."

"The lady was screaming and crying and begging for her husband to wake up but my mom could hear his gurgling in his last breathes. She doesn't listen to or watch Alvin and the chipmunks since."

-- Blueflowerbluehair

What is it About Christmas?

"Christmas night. 911 call with crying child on the other end. A neighbor had run her car over her mom during a domestic."

"The mom crawled to the porch bleeding and the child saw the car coming back. I had her hide quietly in a closet with the cordless phone."

"The 10 year old child was crying and screamed that she hated Christmas. She was afraid of the police when they got there."

"I kept her on the phone until she felt safe enough to give the phone to an officer. I almost fainted after that call was over. Had nightmares for a while."

-- 2FunBoofer

Close to Home 

"Not a dispatcher but I handle radio communications for the Coast Guard. One night I was on the radio and got a call from an 11 year old kid whose boat had started to sink. He was out with his dad and 6 year old brother."

"They had been hit by another boat and his father got knocked unconscious. I remember the entire conversation up until the radio had gone underwater."

"They ended up finding his dad floating on his back alive but the two boys didn't make it. That one really fu**ed with me because my two littlest brothers were around the same age as the youngest."

-- HIRSH2243

A Horrible Clock 

"Another one that stays with me was the man who called in. It was the anniversary of his adult son having hanged himself. He'd now come home to find his wife had done the same."

"That date is always going to be a black day for him."

-- mozgw4

If you or someone you know is struggling, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

To find help outside the United States, the International Association for Suicide Prevention has resources available at

Again, we hope you never have to use the 911 call in your life. Nobody wants to be involved in a sudden emergency or a tragic incident.

But hopefully, if you do, an operator like one of these thoughtful, sensitive Redditors is on the other end.

Image by Nguyen Dinh Lich from Pixabay

When I was moving on from middle school to high school my parents had me tested for the "gifted" program. By some miracle I passed and was accepted. And then I turned it down. Everyone was irritated. "This will pave the way for any college you want! You'll learn so much!" his path will set you up for life!" Every adult tried valiantly to sell me this merchandise but in my gut I just wasn't buying it. So I "settled" a level below, merely advanced classes. And upon reflection... it was the best choice I ever made.

Redditor u/dauntlessdaisy was wondering how far some in life got by asking... For those of you who were considered "gifted" in school, what are you doing with your life now?
Keep reading... Show less
Image by Markus Spiske from Pixabay

There's a million things that can happen to you while out on on the road.

Keep reading... Show less