Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a movie, not even CLOSE to reality: An estranged couple get their minds wiped clean of all memories of each other.

How absolutely wonderful that would be, don’t you think?! On the surface, the idea of erasing all remembrances of an intimate relationship with a narcissistic sociopath seems like a beautiful solution. But not really. After all, how would we learn from the mistakes we made with the narcissistic sociopath if we can’t remember our mistakes?

Mistakes YOU made you ask? Yes. Regardless of the ambush of abuse and his over-the-top and shitty behavior, we must be accountable for our part in the toxic relationship.

Where do you begin?

The first step is to stop asking all of the “why” questions related to HIS behavior:

Why did he do that?
Why did he say those things?
Why was he so jealous?
Why did he claim I was just like him?
Why did he belittle me and my son?
Why did he hate my sisters?
Why, why, why? And on and on.

Instead, ask yourself some “why” questions related to your own behavior:

Why didn’t I speak up for myself sooner?
Why did I let him make me so angry when he said things I knew were false?
Why did I tolerate things for as long as I did?
Why did I let his harsh and vile words hurt me?
Why didn’t I listen to family and friends?
Why was I so stubborn?

Ah-ha! See the difference this makes? All of a sudden it’s no longer about him and trying to figure him out. (You couldn’t do that INSIDE of the relationship; what makes you think you can do it OUTSIDE of the relationship, silly!?)

It’s now about YOU! All eyes are on YOU!

If you want to change your behavior, you must understand your current and past behavior first. In literature, the breaking down of characters and plot and action based on the reader’s personal understanding of the words is called deconstructionism. Through the deconstruction process, the reader gets a more meaningful understanding of all of the parts and pieces that make the story happen the way it happens. Like deconstructing a story, deconstructing your own mind, thoughts, actions, reactions, and feelings, will help you understand yourself more clearly, which can lead to healthy change and growth.

During the deconstruction process, you’ll be taken to places in your past you may not want to visit: your parent’s fights, their divorce, an argument on the playground with a childhood friend, an argument with your beloved sister. But you’ll also be taken to places that you enjoy and embrace: your first kiss, your first day of college, meeting someone special, riding a rollercoaster. With each visit to the past, you’ll ask yourself more and more questions about what you felt and why you felt that way. Amazingly, you’ll find the answers but only if you stay focused on YOU, not on other “characters” in your memory. (If there is one time in your life you need to be selfish, it’s now!)

Deconstructing yourself is intimidating but such a simple thing. You will never REALLY know why someone hurt you or treated you poorly. But you will learn why you reacted the way you did and how you can keep from reacting negatively in the future. You will also become more empowered to take action and control of your life when faced with toxic people in the future.

Taking that first step outside of your current self and asking “why” can lead you to redefining yourself and living the life you were born to live.


abuse, Cluster B disorders, domestic violence, Emotional Abuse, Family, Forgiveness, Friends, Health, Journaling, Mental Health, Narcissist, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, NPD, Peace, Poetry, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Psychopaths, PTSD, Relationships, Self Improvement, Sociopaths, Spirituality, Writing
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Join the conversation! 15 Comments

  1. yes deconstruction is hard but must be done in order for all of us to grow and prosper. A sociopath/narcissist never deconstructs, they just quickly move on to their next target. That is why they will always be in dysfunctional relationships. On the other hand, we can all move on to have better lives whereas the sociopath will always be miserable (after the short honey-money period that is).


  2. Paula, your posts are so beneficial to couples in relationships that are abusive. Thank you for sharing your experience.


  3. Great post and definitely a better way of looking at things. You can’t change others but you can change yourself. Understanding why or how you allowed any of this garbage into your life is certainly the better approach as you will drive yourself less crazy! While I still question certain things about my abuser, I no longer seek or expect an answer, nor do I obsess over wondering. I think it is just a head-scratcher best left to the professionals. The only thing that matters at this point is he isn’t abusing me and my children anymore and how I plan to keep it that way.


  4. This is so perfect now! This is exactly the process that enabled me to walk out the front door with grace and strength knowing I will never allow myself to be prey again. I am actually grateful for the sociopath – it takes what it takes – for forcing me to have to start setting clear boundaries and disallow the ridiculous unbelievable comments, and emotional abuse by letting his words dissipate with no reactions.

    I started deconstructing over a year ago while still in the relationship, little by little seeing how I was providing the bait. That bait was shame and guilt and feeling not good enough. Exactly what a sociopathic predator is craving! Even a breath of it would initiate an “episode” (as I came to call the insanity of his reactions.) I’m so grateful for the counselor I employed (secretly, of course!) who dissected this insanity and worked with me to shed my guilt and shame.

    We are good good people, and we are more than good enough exactly as we are. I have an opportunity now to create a whole new life based on dignity, honor and respect for who I actually am. What a gift! Thank you, Paula for giving this very necessary information here and for every one who responded with such beautiful comments.


  5. I have to give myself credit on this one, I have always been very introspective and far more prone to analyzing myself than others. The thing that I missed completely was that abuse was the only life I knew, I never realized that my parents were so very abusive (now, in retrospect, I can’t believe I didn’t see it, of course.) So while I agree with the idea that we should look inwardly to better understand how we ended up in those situations to begin with, sometimes you need to look outwardly in order to do it. At least I did.


  6. I love this, Paula! I have had to do a lot of deconstructing in order to reconstruct my life in such a way that I will always be aware, protect myself, and love myself enough to never settle for anything less that I deserve in any relationship. I spent more man hours that I can calculating trying to figure him out, understand him. Yes, now it is all about me, and that a good thing. 😉


  7. Ahh yes, Paula!
    self inquiry is a very difficult thing! to stop kidding one’s self and owning up to your own part in a/the mess is not an easy thing to do…and it goes on all of your life!

    self-reflection, seeing personal flaws, owning them, creates an awareness, that eventually will change some aspect that you may not be comfortable with…oh did I just say uncomfortable with? Sure I’m uncomfortable with certain aspects of my behavior or thinking and I’m working on it…that’s the key…the work

    If one is working it shows up!


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