Yes, my sister and my father seem to have an ingrained talent for continuing to try to hurt me or belittle me from afar. So deep to the point of being unconscious or habitual. I have long since moved away from them, but I have a desire for family, esp. now in my present situation (going through a really long season of solitude, a romantic love drought). So now and then I try to reach out to members of my family of origin, or let them in; always with emotionally disastrous results.
I contacted my sister ar. the holidays, and even via the internet she just seems to know the right thing to write to supposedly put me in my place--or to put the past back in its place (buried in the ground)--all mixed in with a lot of holier-than-thou, praise-God-I-have-been-set-free-from-my-... God-talk. Scary. She is in deep denial. I feel for her. I love her, go figure. But I will not let her hurt me anymore or control me. My father on the other hand is dangerously toxic for me. I still have nightmares. PTSD, as our cyber friend Bill and one of my spiritual counselors once put it. Bingo. I lived in a warzone as a child. I think that's why I get so triggered by bullies, control junkies, and trolls in Y/A, and on NYC trains. Without even trying they just take me back...I'm getting better, though. It does get better, with time and effort (and God).
Without going into the gory details here, like your father I am guessing, basically my sister and father have both buried the past without dealing with it, so the past issues and attitudes have a way of resurfacing like ghosts haunting us and even possessing us from the grave. Kinda like those scenes in the movie Poltergeist, where in the end they discover that they have been living in a beautiful housing complex built on top of a sacred Native American gravesite; or the movie Practical Magic, where the two sisters learn that burying the abusive boyfriend's body is not enough to keep his evil spirit in the grave. They also learn that they can't exorcise his spirit on their own. (This is what I have learned, too. To call on help when I need it.)
What do I do specificallly? I let myself have a good old-fashioned cry over them, every now and then. Christmas eve for example. I cry. Deep gut-wrenching tears, until there are no tears left. I let my anger and hurt out in my solitude by screaming into pillows or towels. I mourn the loss of a family, at least a conventional family. My friends are always reminding me that I am not alone. So, I discuss the situation with understanding friends, the ones who get this and have been through this. I also pray (which for me is a conversation w/ God--speaking, pouring out my heart, and then listening).
Lately, I have heard the very nurturing, motherly Voice of God telling me that I have to let go of the dream that they will ever change, that I must keep the focus on myself. I must let go, heal, survive, and thrive. They do not want to change or make amends for the past. They just want to forget all the abuse and wrongdoing. Sweep it all away. They put me down and put me in my place because I am a visible reminder of their unfinished business. And She (the Spirit of God) reminds me in prayer and meditation that it is not my place to try to change anyone, but that is my birthright to grow, heal, and change myself, to be all that God has intended for me to be.
I have also worked with two very good spiritual counselors on these family of origin issues, and on learning ways to empower and free myself.
I read good self-help books and web articles. I read good novels and poetry. I watch good movies. I write and perform poetry. I sing. I find show tunes esp. helpful in this regard--e.g. soundtracks from Rent, The Wiz, and, when I need to remember to forgive certain men in my life, Once on This Island. I am coming to terms with the fact that my current inability to find or attract an appropriate mate is tied in with my unresolved child abuse issues. I seem to have a knack for picking men who I must know deep down cannot last or do not stand a chance with me. Maybe I just want to be free (of being controlled or being played with). I don't know. I do know I have to come to terms with this issue with my father or I am in danger of dying alone in my pretty little NY apt. a lonely cat lady. I don't have a cat, but you get my drift, a la Bridget Jones' Diary.
Anyway, I stay on my spiritual path of inspirational reading, meditation, mindfulness (or staying in the moment), affirmations, support groups and meetup groups, enjoying life, putting my creativity and the things I (and my students) enjoy into my teaching so that my work is fulfilling for me and my students, remembering not to isolate myself, etc.. And when I feel my sister and my father's toxic presence I prayerfully go within and imagine releasing them, cutting the psychic cords, releasing my critical thoughts about them to the Spirit of God, and envisioning myself surrounded with angels and God's loving white light of healing protective energy.
This may seem like a lot, but as my former Course in Miracles teacher, who was also abused and emotionally abandoned as a child, once reminded me, we have to be vigilant. This is a process of undoing all that is false or untrue and learning, once again, to love, really love ourselves and others. Which does not include being anyone's punching bag, scapegoat, or doormat.
It's not like I do all these things at once; it's more like I have a number of practices in my "bag of tricks" (tools) I can use or call upon when needed. Each of us must find the practices that work for us. I hope you will do this, my cyber friend. I think I know what you are going through, or can at least come close. Find what works for you and be glad that you can do this. I know you can do this. You help so many people. You have certainly helped me whenever I have crashed (and burned). :) You deserve the best. I am here for you, too.
Wow, Karebear, great answer. Very wise. I wish I could KISS (keep it short and sweet) like that. Excellent.