I waited with the dish towel while my mom washed the big skillet. She looked at it and said, “One day, I’m going to kill him with this.” I never doubted it—it was just a matter of when.
A Family Curse
My dad beat us down with a constant barrage: “You’re not good enough,” “You’re never going to make it,” and “Everybody’s better than you.”
When the sawmill gave my dad his annual time off, we never took a vacation. He spent that time binge drinking in a local bar. We hated to see him come home, even more than usual. He beat us all and broke everything in sight. He threw chairs, took off his belt and swung the buckle end at us. He would shout, “I’m the king of this house. Get in here and sing for me!” or “Get in here and cook me food!” Everyone jumped at his commands.
My dad convinced me the abuse was my fault. He told me, “You ruined my life. If I knew 20 years ago what I know now, you wouldn’t be standing here.”
Our family’s religious training consisted of Dad teaching, “God is holding a whip in his hand and he’s just waiting for you to step out of line.” He taught us scientific truths as well, “Where do you think lightning comes from? God is punishing someone for being bad.” For years, whenever I saw lightning, I wondered which bad person was receiving her due. He also enlightened us in the dynamics of interpersonal relationships, “Women need hit every once in a while.”
He was meaner to our mom than to us kids. I remember Mom as an angry, bitter bystander who ran and hid when he came around. I remember him telling her, “You’ll never make it to heaven, because God won’t have you. She believed him and, never having fulfilled her skillet plan, died very afraid.
I watched my dad beat all three of my brothers, knocking out the oldest one. All of them became alcoholics. Two are divorced and unhappy with life. My youngest brother beat the snot out of his wife.
Both of my sisters have hard family lives as well: abuse, drinking problems, divorce, kids on drugs.
Dad learned his behavior from his parents. I never met his dad, but people told me my dad was a saint compared to my grandpa, who was known for beating people senseless.
Grandma was meaner than my dad. I remember them fist-fighting each other.
It didn’t even occur to me I could have dreams. I’d never seen what a family should look like. My fate seemed settled.
Glimmer of Hope
I did receive a rare glimmer of hope when I was 5. At Vacation Bible School, a teacher told me, “If you were the only one on the planet, Jesus would have still died for you.” It amazed me that someone actually cared for me. I held onto that little seed of faith and I began praying regularly.
When I was 14, an older girl from church convinced my parents to let me go with the youth group on a trip. She assured them she would provide close supervision for me. It shocked me when they agreed to let me go, and I jumped at the opportunity. We visited San Jose Bible College. I’d never seen or even imagined such a place. People there impressed me as free and happy. They smiled and encouraged each other. I told myself, “That’s what I want,” and prayed in a dorm room for God to let me go to college there.
When I returned home, I shared my desire with my parents. My dad responded, “I’ll kill you before I let you go there.”
Hoping to avoid abuse at home, I spent considerable time at school, church and work.
During my high school years, a local business owner hired me to work in his sewing machine and vacuum cleaner shop. He hugged me, kissed me on the forehead and told me he loved me. Nobody in my house touched anyone else except for hitting, and it seemed weird and uncomfortable to me.
One day, I asked him why he did those things to me. He said, “I know about your dad. I know he doesn’t do these things for you. If you don’t have a father figure, you’ll fall for any lie any guy gives you. You’ll end up in a lot of trouble.”
I always honored and respected him for looking out for me. We still keep in contact.
When I was a straight-arrow, straight-A senior in high school, my dad confronted me. He said the men in the out-of-area sawmill where he worked told him I’d been coming to the mill on their breaks and performing sex acts with them in their cars.
I informed him I’d never been to his mill, didn’t know the men and didn’t even know what the sex acts were he referred to. I reminded him I spent all my time at school, work and church. It crushed me. He knew I didn’t do any of that: he just made up the whole story for an excuse to beat me.
When I graduated from high school, my dad handed me a one-way ticket to Ohio to live with my grandmother. He never trusted me and figured his meaner mother-in-law would make me behave. Figuring I was headed to Bible college, I told him, “I have other plans.”
He said, “Your plans just changed,” took me to the airport and loaded me on a plane.
Three months later, Grandma reported to my dad I’d been seeing a boy. He ordered her to put me on a plane and send me to him.
Back home, the abuse continued. Finally, I looked at him and said, “One day, I’m walking out of this house and no man will ever hit me again.”
He looked at me and said, “Maybe I ought to hit you on the way out. Once you cross my cattle guard, don’t ever come back. You’re not my kid—you’re not good enough to be my kid.” I knew he meant business. When my brother left home, Dad disowned him and forbade the family to even mention his name.
I found a ride with a woman headed to California and left that day. She dropped me off 500 miles later at on the doorsteps of San Jose Bible College. I walked in and said, “I’m here.” They weren’t sure what to do with me, but found one open bed in the dorm and let me stay there. I found work: mowing lawns, babysitting, cleaning houses and working in a restaurant. I paid for my room and board and saved for the next term of school. Not knowing how to open a bank account, I sent the my savings money home for my parents to keep for me.
On a break between terms, I returned home to find my dad had spent all my money and sold my belongings. The hardest part was going back and hoping it would be different. It never was. I’d always hoped to gain his approval, but never did.
When I experimented briefly with alcohol during college, I noticed I became mean. I understood I needed to leave it alone, and did so.
As a wife and young mother, a deep, chronic depression settled into me when I got to the place where I lost hope of my life ever getting better. We had moved back to my home town. I couldn’t please my mom or dad. I felt insignificant. My understanding of life was, “Life is a bitch and then you die.” I was up and down—my husband couldn’t deal with me.
When I took my son for a medical appointment, the new doctor noticed my demeanor. He asked, “Do ever consider suicide?”
I looked at my watch and replied, “What do you think? Doesn’t everyone?”
In truth, that’s mostly what I thought about—all day, every day. I mentally played out every suicide method in the book along with every twisted way I saw on television shows.
It stunned me when the doctor answered, “No. I don’t think about suicide”
He asked if I would undergo some testing. I agreed.
The results showed I was “the most severely depressed person” he ever met. He asked, “Why haven’t you killed yourself?”
I told him, “I’m not going to put up with all this and then go to hell.”
He wrote me a prescription for antidepressants. I didn’t fill it for a month. I really didn’t want to take them and my parents had taught me people go to hell for using them. My husband and my pastor advised me to follow the doctor’s advice so after 16 years of deep depression, I started the medication.
After a few days, my husband was stunned at the change. He called them my “happy pills.” However the positive effects of the drug wore off and I became more depressed than before. The doctor
adjusted doses and changed medications over the next 10 years. I was taking handfuls of pills at the maximum doses he would prescribe, but I was a mess.
A New Destiny
One day, a friend gave me a copy of Biblical Foundations of Freedom:Destroying Satan’s Lies With God’s Truths by Art Mathias. It literally changed my life. I leaned to discern the difference between good and evil as well as spiritual truth and lies. I understood the sovereignty of God and how he doesn’t deviate from his character. God doesn’t impose upon our free-choice decisions. God’s will doesn’t cause bad things to happen to us, but if we allow him, he fixes the damage and makes something good out of us.
Deuteronomy 28 tells us when we do what God tells us to do, his blessing will be upon us, but if we don’t, curses happen. God doesn’t put these curses upon us, but because we’ve opened the door to evil we’re not protected.
Another book, Breaking the Authority of the Bastard Curse: Restoring the Congregation of the Lord by Carl O. Fox and Paul M. Norcraft, helped me deal with the generational curses I’d inherited. I realized I’d been born into a family curse. I was physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually ill.
I learned when a generational curse is in one’s bloodline, it’s difficult to break. This book taught me a process to cut off, cancel my involvement in, and break the family curses. I’ve been able to break family curses of alcoholism, physical abuse, verbal abuse, anger, victimization, resentment, violence, dissension and fear.
The process involved journaling my memories and then confessing and forgiving myself along with those who hurt me. Here’s an example of the four-step prayer. STEP 1:“I repent of my anger at my dad for lying to my sister about me.” STEP 2: “I forgive and release him and forgive myself for not recognizing it sooner.” STEP 3: “I cancel Satan’s authority in that lie in the name of Jesus.” STEP 4: “Heal me.” I wait quietly for impressions from the Holy Spirit and then journal my prayers to record them as completed.
It is really important to recognize the “voice” of the Holy Spirit. We hear all kinds of “voices.” I would hear voices condemning me and telling me how stupid I was for not figuring this out sooner. I knew from reading the Bible, that God does not tear us down. God also gives us a gift of discernment to sort out his voice from other voices.
Whenever a problem I’ve already dealt with comes up again, I consult my journal to remind me of the date I already settled that issue.
When I was able to forgive my dad, it brought me freedom. For me, freedom meant walking away. I previously thought I was to forgive, forget and walk right back into the same situation time after time. We need to learn from our mistakes.
The Bible tells us we need to forgive in order for God to forgive us. I thought about that for a long time. I asked myself, “Why would I let another human being dictate whether I’m forgiven by God?” We get the power of Christ instead of the power of the dark side and it frees us from bondage.
This worked so well, I took classes from Wellspring Ministries, taught by Art Mathias. I learned effective prayers to deal with issues which keep people from spiritual, emotional, mental and physical wellness.
I went through the process of forgiving myself for my personal shortcomings. I asked forgiveness from God for blaming him. I used to question God because others had better-working lives than me: “Why did you give them a nice, healthy, happy family and look where I’m stuck?” I had this whole victimization thing going: “I’m not good enough,” and “I don’t deserve any better.” Then I’d get mad at myself.
It’s been like peeling an onion—going deeper, layer after layer. God is so gracious—he doesn’t overload us. For me, dealing with 40 years of anger and depression all at once would have been too much. It’s an ongoing process: we continue to grow as he heals us piece by piece. It’s easier to do this with another person—it’s hard to do by yourself.
Family Life Today
I got up this morning and a piece of my past came upon me. I felt dirty. I confessed it to God and asked forgiveness. He gave me a vision of a clear pool of water and then it was like “I’m all clean—it’s done!”
I seldom see my dad. I don’t go to his house, but occasionally he comes to visit me. I address him as Mr. Wall and treat him politely. I forgave myself and him and I’m at complete peace with him. That doesn’t mean I trust him for one second. I’ve established boundaries in my home and he knows not to cross them. He brought us up to respect the authority of a person to make rules for his/her own home. When he starts to mess with me, I tell him, “Excuse me. This is my house.” Several times, I’ve ordered him to leave.
My two boys know they are loved and I won’t shut the door on them. Both of them know whatever they go through, they can always count on me to be their mother and never to disown them. They know I want the best for them and I respect who they are as people. My husband and I attend church with our boys. They see me read my Bible daily.
Ruby’s Advice for Kids
●Covering up and letting things remain the way they are can only hide the problem. Begin dealing with the issue by forgiving those who hurt you.
●Part of “Honor your father and mother” means you need to forgive them. Not forgiving is like drinking a cup of acid and waiting for the other person to die.
●Make good choices when choosing friends. Hang out around positive people and find a church youth group where you can make friends.
●Find activities which will not lead to destructive behaviors.
●With Christ, there’s always hope.
Ruby’s Advice for Adults
●Forgive the ones who hurt you. It puts you in control instead of them.
●Find tools (people, books, internet info) to help you.
Ruby has worked as a prayer minister through Wellspring Ministries. Wellspring helps people find answers to deep issues such as bitterness, envy, jealousy, rejection, fear, the occult and unbelief. As Ruby’s clients apply repentance and forgiveness, emotional and most physical diseases are healed. Find answers to life’s challenges at akwellspring.com or (907)563-9033.
Ruby is a pseudonym as she wants to protect her family members from embarrassment.