Some of the things these people went through would be too painful if their children ever found out. They'll take these secrets to their grave.
>>> "That when my 4-year-old son was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and he'd sleep with his mom, I'd sleep in his bed crying all night thinking about how I was going to explain to him what death was, and how to explain that he was going to die. Luckily, he didn't die. And I didn't have to explain it to him. He's 5 years cancer-free now. But for months, it really wasn't certain that he'd make it. It had spread through both of his lungs. He recently asked me how we felt when he was going through it. He hardly remembers it. He asked if we cried and were worried. During it all, we kept a stiff upper lip and tried to be very positive whenever we were around him, so as to not worry him."
>>> "That I didn't lock myself in the bathroom because I was sick back when we lived in our old house. She was too young to know any better than to think other than Daddy being silly and making funny noises at you through the bathroom door. In reality, I had overdosed and if she hadn't told on me when she did, the paramedics wouldn't have gotten to me in time. She saved my life. When I stop and think about that, guilt and shame mixed with gratitude overwhelm me and it brings me to tears. I no longer am on it."
>>> "My older two will never know their father violated me (it was actually not a crime back then because we were married). The younger of the two is a product of that abuse. It was fun when everyone was pressuring me to find out why I was having a baby 11 months after my first was born. Actually, no one but my current husband knows. Not even my parents."
>>> "How, when my three kids were small (I was just a Private in the Army), my wife and I would eat $0.69 bean burritos for lunch/dinner from Taco Bell so that we could afford the $25 bounced-check fee on the $100 grocery check we couldn't cover. We would write the check knowing we didn't have the money in the bank, but kids gotta eat. Don't get me started on the Payday Loans we only ever got out of with our tax refund. Whew! Things are great nowadays, and they are all three happy as can be. But for a couple of years there, life was tough. Builds character, I guess."
>>> "That I don't like being a parent. I love my kids, but I miss being able to be selfish once and a while without feeling like an enormous piece of crap."
Marcos Mesa Sam Wordley/Shutterstock
>>> "I hope she never finds out. I don't even like thinking about it now. I hope my daughter never finds out how much of an advocate I was for terminating the pregnancy. Or how much of a terrible guy I was to her mother in general. I could never envision a future where I'd grow up and be an adult, or that her mother would grow up and be an actual adult, and we could get along and be decent parents. We aren't together, but co-parenting has been effortless and I'm so grateful for my daughter's existence and how much it changed my life."
>>> "That my son's dad is/was (no clue where he's at if he's even alive) a horrible person. Or that my boy is a product of his father taking advantage of me and all the abuse he put me through. No child deserves that. I have no idea how I'm going to explain to him as he gets older as to why his father isn't around and chose not to see him. My boy is a bright, happy, enthusiastic boy, but my heart hurts for him."
>>> "The meals my wife and I skipped out on so he could have food. My wife and I aren't 'poor' or 'dumb' for having a child. My wife has a good steady job with decent income. I have a job that is either feast or famine, with no insight as to how my next week will be. This makes budgeting tough. We always make sure the utilities are paid, the mortgage is paid, and our child healthy and clean. We sometimes have to make food stretch as much as we can but sometimes it's not enough. We aren't going to bed or waking up starving every night of every week like some people have/do and my heart goes out to them. There are just some stretches that we don't get to eat. So no, we can't get government assistance and frankly it should go to those that really need it more than us."
>>> "My father was indicted for inappropriate child photos yesterday. I've known since the first charge but my older sister and her husband did not. They have a 4-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son. When my brother-in-law found out, he threw up. The worst part is we live in a medium-sized town and our last name is well-known and the only people who have it are related to me. I don't think I'll ever tell my children that when I have them, but for my niece and nephew..."
>>> "That I am alive. I got a girl pregnant in Afghanistan. Nice girl, US Army. Met her somewhere we were doing security and we just hooked up. She shipped back home and ended up telling everyone I died. She has a whole story about how we met, fell in love, and two days later I was dead. Something heroic diving on a grenade to save her mom or something. So my little girl is growing up thinking her dad was some kind of knight in shining armor hero. Truth is, I'm a monster. I will never get to meet her. I don't want to destroy her by telling her her daddy is not a hero and more like a villain. That on top of the 'Mommy's been lying to you' speech I think would mess her up for life.
>>> "That I was violated as a child. That my parents, those same grandparents that my kids love so much, betrayed me by not listening to me, by not believing my story, which resulted in prolonged abuse. My teenage years of petty crime, illegal substances, reckless behavior. That I have no idea who I am. This person I was before is gone. I am the picture perfect parent though, you'd have no idea if you saw me. I have created this persona and lifestyle, with family, career, activities, the whole nine yards. While I harbor the darkest thoughts. The contrast is borderline comical when I think of it."
>>> "That I wished he was 'normal' every now and then. He got his autism diagnosis two years ago (he's 5 now). It's taken a lot of hard work to get where we are now. He's in a mainstream school. He's started talking, even if it is mainly echolalic. He's started learning to read and write. He's getting lots of praise from his teachers. Family and friends have noticed great improvements in his progress. And I wouldn't change him for the world. He is who he is and I love him. But every so often I worry about the future he might have. Will he be able to live independently once I'm gone? Will he ever get a job? Find a girlfriend? Interact with his peers? Have an actual conversation with someone? Go out and order food in a restaurant? And when he's lashing out because his dinner is the wrong color, or that we skipped naming the color of one car down the street, I sometimes think 'Why can't you just be normal.' And I hate myself for it."
Skyward Kick Productions/Shutterstock
>>> "I was part of a gang during my time in prison which involved me in plenty of situations I am not proud of, including hurting a man very badly who had kidnapped and abused his girlfriend's 5-year-old niece before burning her body. I'm so sorry. Part of me wants forgiveness and the other part of me doesn't feel as bad as I should sometimes because some could say the man deserved what he got.
Sometimes I wonder if I took it too far or got involved in something I should have stayed away from and minded my own business, but then again there is a lot to the story. Variables and mixed emotions of a sad and violent place in which it's easy to get lost in the hardened persona you created for yourself. Numb to the daily acts of violence and lost blood on the sidewalk as you carefully step over it and keep moving forward without acknowledging the pure adrenaline and a heart that's beating straight out of your chest. It was none of your business. You happened to be walking in the wrong place at the wrong time and happened to be close enough to see the dull banger puncture the man's face and neck more than a couple times. You act like it doesn't phase you so no one thinks you care enough to go run and tell or get a C.O. to help. Nah... Because then you're a snitch. Then your whole bit turns into a big problem. Then YOUR life becomes the one that's in danger.
I decided right then and there I was going to make it out alive. Make it home to my son. I wasn't going to take crap from anyone for the next 4-12 years and people were going to respect me. Not because they were scared of me, but because of what I stood for. That was the first time I saw someone stabbed in prison. That was also only my second day on the compound. I decided after a very long, deep, and personal internal debate with every ounce of logic in my head that I would join a gang. Unfortunately, the only way in was to prove myself. Luckily, I had the choice to make it someone who deserved it. I would've done anything for the bros that had my back and made sure I made it out the other side and back to my son without so much as a scratch or a new scar that needed to be explained. Lord knows they did for me.
I've never told ANYONE this. Not even my girlfriend who I am extremely close with and could tell anything to. I'm so ashamed. I don't like violence. I didn't know what else to do! I don't know if I would still be sitting here in this new freedom I'm proud to be a part of if I had made any other choices than the ones I did. But it earned me the respect which would carry me through a five-year prison term in my state's (and one of the nation's) most violent prison."
>>> "My daughter was abused when she was an infant by her mother. Since then I have gained full custody and my daughter is 5. Probably never going to tell her."
>>> "I lost my job at 24 and I couldn't get any jobs. I didn't have a degree in anything so after a year of being 'poor' I decided to start doing professional 'intimate' work. After 2 years (always using protection) my rubber broke, I noticed it quickly and I decided to tell the girl I was having relations with directly that evening. I could have chosen the easy way and avoid all contact with her but I didn't.
After a few months of having contact, it was clear that she was pregnant. I could have chosen the easy way but I decided to be a father for my future child. Just because I think every child needs a father. Besides that I couldn't live knowing that I had a son where I didn't take any responsibility for. I quit that work, moved in with this girl, made sure everything was alright and 6 months later there he was: our beautiful son.
The first years we didn't tell him anything about our relationship because of obvious reasons. When he was 7 and he really started asking questions we told him we were boyfriend and girlfriend but broke up when he was 3. We stayed together because we still like each other but we don't love each other anymore. That's what we told him and we'll always keep it like that. Looking back on it, I don't have any regrets.
Our son just turned 10 years old and he is a happy kid growing up as any other kid with a father and a mother. Seeing his smile makes my day. Is it the easiest way? Definitely not. Is it the right way? Of course, people have different opinions on it, but I think I made the right choice and that's what matters."
>>> "How much I resent that they've ruined my body. Seriously my lady parts are wrecked, I hate looking at it. I hate doing it because it hurts and I just can't stand the thought of my partner seeing/touching it. I even hate going for a pee because when I wipe it just feels awful. This is AFTER corrective surgery by the way. Also, breastfeeding was so awful and I don't like my girls touched at all. Plus my dang feet are a size bigger and I had to get rid of my favorite shoes. I love my kids deeply and this is obviously not their fault. Some women have easier births, some have more difficult ones. At least I didn't die in childbirth! So yeah this is NOT something that affects my relationship with them, it's something I will keep to myself."
>>> "Many actually... That I was violated as a child. That I resent my parents. My history of petty crime and substance abuse. My depressive, borderline suicidal tendencies. Many many other things I am not proud of. If you see me, you'd think I'm a picture perfect happy dad, while really, I'm dancing in a circle of demons. I love my kids more than anything in the world and for their own sake, they cannot ever know any of it."
>>> "I was in a bad 5-year-long relationship. He introduced me to (hard) substances and before long we were basically addicts. Anything we could do we did everything - it had become a problem. I ended up in $15,000 in debt. A married co-worker of mine and I told each other we would leave our significant others and be together, we did just that. I quit everything cold turkey, he filed for divorce and 3 months later I was pregnant. Now we have a beautiful son and great relationship. But I will never tell our son that months before he was conceived I was an addict and his father was married to someone else."
>>> "My children have no idea that we are poor. We rent an okay-sized house for our family away from the poor, more dangerous part of town. We often are very low on food, but our kids think we haven't had time to get to the store yet. Our utilities, phone, etc are shut off nearly every month, but we blame outages. We also do not completely hold back their childhood. We still do things and go places that are fun, often free or obtained through connections. We are facing eviction now, and if/when we move, it will be harder to gloss over. But in the meantime, our children have almost no idea that we are very poor and scraping by day to day."
>>> "I spent two years in prison, got released, and had full custody of my 4-year-old (then 3) a couple of months later. I was a bad addict when he was born, and one of the things I had done caught up to me. When I got clean, I became a new man, spent every day of those two years planning my new life. At the same time, his mother fell down a black hole. She was the shy, quiet girl who I couldn't get to drink with me. When I got home she was a negligent dancer, with various older 'sugar daddies' supporting her while abusing my son both emotionally and physically. Before I even went home on my release date, I spent two hours in court filing papers just for visitation, as she wouldn't voluntarily allow me to see my son. Once I was approved by a judge and saw what was going on, it didn't take much to persuade that same judge to let him live with me, although I came ready with character statements from my parole officer, and employer.
This was a little over a year ago, and his mother is slowly coming back into the picture. She seems to be making positive progress, and I know as well as the next guy how important a second chance can be. It's honestly the hardest thing I've had to do, knowing what has happened in the past. But it's necessary in my mind. I won't be the reason my son doesn't have a mother. I've cried myself to sleep so many times because I simply don't know what's right.
I've even lost the respect of the judge after I went from demanding her not be around him while the judge gave her visitation, to then coming back a month later to tell him she was doing a fine job during the couple of hours each Saturday he gave her with our son. It seemed as if he believes I should either be all against her, or all for her, with a never changing opinion. The way I look at it, I walk into his courtroom and tell him the truth. If the truth is positive for my son's mother, absolutely great. If it's negative, so be it, I can take care of him myself (with family support of course).
I will never let my son know what his mother allowed happen to him, it's simply not my place. I'm here to keep him safe and as happy as possible, and I swear on my life I try every dang day to ensure this. I hope she does well, and I never have to answer why she isn't around. If I do, I honestly don't know what I'd say. One day, however, I will most likely tell him my story. If it can be of use to him, I will let him know how substances affected me. I'm not too eager for this, and will only tell him if it's relevant, but for now, those are my secrets. Life has been a crazy 23 years for me so far."
>>> "I don't tell many people this but, I never wanted children. When I found out I was pregnant, I was absolutely devastated. I made an appointment to end it, but never went through with it and throughout my pregnancy, I don't think I bonded with her. I almost tried to act as if it wasn't happening. And even when I gave birth, I was scared to death. It took a while for me to bond with her and when I finally did, she had a regression and a major personality change and was diagnosed with autism. I feel responsible because of my negative attitude during my pregnancy. Now, I love her more than life itself. Every day she gives me a reason to smile. And she has the such a beautiful soul. But my pregnancy is my most shameful time in my life."
>>> "Mommy and I were a one nighter, and that single night is all it took to conceive you as a result of us being messed up and my pull out game being weak. And sorry, mommy and daddy never loved each other. We tried for a long time but it just never had the chance of working out."
>>> "One thing I hope to hide from kids for as long as I can is that I used to self-harm. I haven't done it in years, and have learned not to use it as a coping method, but it's something that I don't look forward to explaining to them."
>>> "I overheard a 19-year-old bullying and threatening my 14-year-old in our front yard.
I found out who he was, grabbed a baseball bat, three of my dogs, and cornered him the next night. I talked to him until he peed his pants and told him if he ever mentioned this to anyone or even looked at my son again, I would be back to kill him and feed his corpse to my dogs.
In my defense, I had really bad PMS that day."
>>> "I am currently raising two boys, aged 7 and 5. I own my own business, have a house in the suburbs, I bring them to soccer on the weekends and take walks with my wife. I am a regular citizen.
I would never want any of them to know that from the age of around 14 to the time I was 26, I was an insane, violent, dealing/addicted animal. My father was physically abusive and drank all the time, and I grew to be the same way. He beat and took advantage of me, my little brother, and my mother for years. I started drinking at 12 and using illegal substances at 13. By 15, I was dealing and my life spiraled down from there.
By the time I was 17, I used to stalk the streets like a rabid dog. I packed heat and would pull it at the slightest (real or imagined) provocation. I have done horrific things. I used to beat the living crap out of my ex for fun, and I hospitalized her more than once. I liked doing it, I enjoyed it. Sometimes I used to get excited when I was smashing her face in with whatever object I had within reach. I jammed a loaded weapon up her private bits one time, finger wrapped around the trigger. I have committed home invasions, arson, kidnappings, torture, mutilation. I have hurt children. I have killed.
I lived that life for over a decade, a psychotic, vicious beast. One day I woke up and just stopped. I can remember it perfectly. I woke up at around 2 in the afternoon and just knew I was done. I was 26, no education, hadn't even finished high school, never worked a real job in my life, and had spent just over three years in lockup if you added all the short stints together. I had no idea how to do or be anything other than what I had been until that point. But I either had to stop or kill myself. I just literally walked out of my life, out of the city, out of the state. I'm sure everyone who knew me thinks I was murdered. I hope they do.
I'm 41 now. I have my GED, I and am now a successful small business owner with three employees and a family. I haven't touched a substance or drink in 13 years. The things I have done haunt me. I dream about it all the time and have horrific nightmares. I wake up sobbing and shaking and unable to breathe. My wife is used to it by now. Sometimes I pee in the bed. Every time I have a moment of happiness, it turns black. The taste of food turns to ash in my mouth. Every time I look at my boys, I remember. The shame of what I have done and the fear that someday it will come out are slowly destroying me. I feel like I'm committing suicide in slow motion.
I wonder if my brother is still alive sometimes. He was living the same way I did. I just disappeared on him without a word. I hope he is either out of that life, or I hope he's dead. Men like we were have no business being alive."