Eternal Sunshine of the Narcissist’s Mind

eternal sunshine
image by artist Peter Strain

In the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, the main character decides to have his memories of his ex erased. These included ALL memories, good and bad. Did he once love her? Absolutely. When she broke it off with him though, the pain was too great to bear and he decides to erase her altogether.  (That was after he found out she had done it first)

The narc has some of that ability without the freaky procedure we saw administered in the film. Just to be clear, this film is not about narcissism. It’s a quirky, bizarre love story. It’s the spotless mind reference that has a likeness to what little can be understood of the narcissist’s brain function.

The narcissist will erase memories of you if they can’t use you anymore.  I say ‘if they can’t use you…’ not ‘if they stop using you…’.  Because they will never stop using you until you change the terms of the relationship.

Specifically, a narc is not capable of making the decision to end their supply. Rather, the only way they lose supply is when the supply (victim) ends the relationship.

What does this mean?

The Victim Has the Power

The victim has the ultimate power. If you’ve been used by the narc and if you’re a victim of their antics, you have the power to end it.

But be ready to be dropped like a hot potato, if you cease to satisfy their needs. Be ready to mean ‘nothing’ to them. As I say, the eternal sunshine of the narcissists mind—it’s a thing. They select the memories of you that serve them. If you are no longer their supply, any positive memories of you will ‘disappear’. It’s like you never happened. Forget all the things you did for the narcissist because they have already dismissed all of your goodness as being maligned.

What this means is, for the amount of use the narc extracted from you (at a high personal cost to you) it will be forgotten and meaningless in the narc’s mind. If you were to remind them of those things you did (sacrificed or gave), they will have zero recollection. It’s as though it and you never happened.

Makes you think twice about the next time the narc asks you to do something, doesn’t it? Why risk everything, including your heart when it will be meaningless later?

Eternal sunshine…

Also, be ready for the narc to take it a step further. You will be the subject of a smear campaign. How so? If you are no longer serving their purpose, and if they have dropped you, they will explain your absence by way of the following;

You’re “mentally unstable”, “need professional help”, “have problems”, “make up lies”, “crazy”, “bi-polar”, “brainwashed by a toxic person”, “dishonest”, or “trying to make me look bad”…etc.

It may not end there. The narcissist is not above interfering with confidential relationships you may have with professionals. Doctors and therapists will be vulnerable to a narcissist breach. Why? To ensure the smear campaign is complete.

Cease to Supply

At this point you may be wondering, is it worth it? Is it worth ceasing to supply the narc in my life?  After all, who wants to be smeared and dropped like a valueless piece of rubbish, kicked to the curb for garbage pick-up? No one. However, considering the price you likely paid as a source of supply that alternative is still, better.  It will not feel satisfying to begin with but in time you will reap the benefits.

Hold on, though because you didn’t become a source of supply overnight. The narc was using you all along, and you had’t even realized it. They managed to make you feel secure, wanted and important—until they went too far. Something may have happened that made you question their motives, or made you feel vulnerable and doubtful. Perhaps the result was financial loss, or romantic devastation. The point is, whatever the event, the narc has succeeded in pushing you too far.

Take Control

What now? Often I recommend setting boundaries with this person in your life. But not just setting them, actually implementing them and ensuring they remain strong and steadfast. No one is getting through your protective boundaries. This takes a little practice to ensure an effective, protective measure.

Sometimes our boundaries aren’t enough though. So, we have to finally cut contact with the narc. It’s the only way to protect yourself from further damage (again, that could be financial or romantic). But it’s important to be prepared for the repercussions and find ways to mitigate them.

Eternal Sunshine for You

Don’t underestimate the eternal sunshine of the narcissist’s mind. You will no longer be relevant when you cease to supply the narc. Along with this? Memories of you, both good and bad will be erased and your earlier contributions, and anything you gave to the narcissist will also be deleted from their memory. With this in mind, the victim must consider ending the supply and protecting themselves from further damage. Knowing that your past sacrifices meant nothing, should spur you forward to a new life sans narcissist.

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33 Replies to “Eternal Sunshine of the Narcissist’s Mind”

    1. Hi Beth, thank you and yes, indeed a friendship can entail a narcissistic personality. It’s hard to recognize the signs but they are revealed over time.

  1. Very interesting topic, Lisa. I haven’t seen that movie in ages, but I remember it being spellbinding and so different from anything else I had seen before when it came out. Maybe because a lot of it felt like a giant dream sequence? It’s been too long. I’ll have to see again.

    I have a terrible recollection problem. But forgetting details about relationships? I don’t think I could erase those memories forever. Nor would I want to. I think I’ve learned from something from each one, whether good or bad, and regardless of whether or not I was dating a narcissist. That happened at least once. Anyway, it’s sad to think a relationship could end and then POOF! It’s like you never happened.
    Charlotte recently posted…How to save with Groupon CouponsMy Profile

    1. Hey Charlotte, yes the movie is quite intriguing. It’s weird, for sure. It was released in 2004, I believe. It really was like a long dream sequence. Absolutely true that we learn from everyone in our life past and present. It’s an incredible ability that extreme narcissistic personalities have. Very unique.

  2. Ohhh, so painfully familiar. I know everyone thinks their family is “crazy” but the narcissists in my family are the reason I can laugh at other families’ crazy and roll with it. I was forged in hotter fires; your amateur guilt trips have no effect on me!
    ActualConversationsWithMyHusband recently posted…What?My Profile

  3. You should write a book…How to Beat the Narc. lol

    “…you have the power to end it.” What a powerful statement. And so true. If only more people can realize that, then more narcs would be put in their place.

    1. Haha, well I’m not qualified for that LOL but I have so many people writing to me regarding narcissistic exes. The stories are all very similar (with varying details) and from all the research I have done, there are patterns. YES, the victim recognizing that they have power is so important. Thanks, Chrys!

  4. Wow. This is a lot to think about. I remember watching the movie, and also thinking about it for a long time afterwards. Relationships are so complicated.

    1. Hi Shann, Yes relationships each have their own quirks and painful memories along with good ones. The film really explores this interesting concept of ‘erasing’ someone from your life. Ultimately, the person is erasing all the lessons from that relationship. Interestingly, in the film, he regrets and wants to reverse the procedure. Ironically, they meet again…I’m letting out spoilers but the film is so old…I’m sure everyone has seen it.

  5. Lisa, this is just such a valuable message- full of important wisdom and insight for the many women (and men!) who experience all these dynamics with a narc. I’m so grateful you are offering such useful and life altering advice for those bound in relationships that are futile, dysfunctional, and destructive. SO many people need to learn and gain strength from knowledge- to move forward and out of this type of captivity.

    I need to watch this movie.
    Christine Carter recently posted…How To Support The Writer In Your Life- A Step By Step GuideMy Profile

    1. Thank you, Chris. It’s scary how many people deal with these type of personalities—either through co-parenting or a co-worker etc. Sometimes, it’s a situation where they can’t just walk away but must continue to deal. That’s where I hope my tips come in handy. Indeed, victims can take back their power!
      The movie is very unique!

  6. Interesting! I would like to watch this movie. I wish there could be some such possibility of erasing the memories…life would be so much smoother!
    On a saner note, I would like to add that a narcissistic would never let his/her victim go…freedom of thought and expression doesn’t exist in their vocabulary. They cripple the mind of their victim with their tactics.
    A wonderful take on Narcs Lisa!
    Balroop Singh recently posted…Conflicts In Relationships – The Untold Story Of EmotionsMy Profile

    1. The movie is interesting. I wouldn’t want to erase memories. Maybe life would be smoother but it would be boring haha. Yes, a narcissist doesn’t like to let go of their supply. It’s a decision that is made by the victim for sure. They can be extremely mind bending (gaslighting). Often a victim doesn’t realize what’s happening until some time has passed or as I say, an event occurs that makes them think twice and make a change. Thanks for sharing, Balroop!

    1. Yes and I bet you didn’t even realize what he was doing until some time had passed. Good for you for getting out early on.

  7. Very, very interesting topic, Lisa. I’ve never seen the movie but what it’s suggesting – that we forget about someone – is something we’ll probably never forgot. Or…maybe we can forget, but we will never forget how someone made us feel. Hmmm. On one hand a narcissist has a certain confidence within them. But sometimes that confidence rubs off on the introvert in me. Maybe we’re all narcissists in some way, or we have to be at least in our mind sometimes when we are trying to encourage ourselves.

    1. It’s interesting in the movie, because they meet again and of course, there’s a familiar pull…so probably they never truly forgot one another. The narc’s confidence is always a false front. But yes, as humans we all have a degree of narcissism. It’s when it becomes extreme that it is destructive.

  8. Fantastic post with accurate description of a narc, Lisa. I’ll vouch because I lived with one – my mother. And so I write! But absolutely, there is no winning, EVER! And truly, all the million things you’ve done for that person mysteriously vanish from their memory once you dare to say no to another. It took me almost 50 years, wayyyyyyyyyyy too long. But I learned to walk away. 🙂
    dgkaye recently posted…Sunday Book Review – The Plot WhispererMy Profile

    1. So sorry you’ve gone through that, DG. Devastating. At least you got it figured out and did what you needed to make your life better. It’s not easy! But you have lots of writing material no doubt.

    1. Yes, that movie was pretty emotional or was it disturbing? Hm, what is it about divorce that brings out the narc in us.

  9. Lisa,
    So much truth here–thank you so much for sharing. I hope it reaches wide and far to help people who may be struggling with ending their relationship with a narcissist (not just with intimate partners, but also with family members). <3 <3 <3

    Love and hugs, to you!

  10. It’s been disheartening to realize what a narcissist my ex is via the various rounds of email exchanges we’ve had since he disappeared. At least I can now recognize such traits more readily in the people I meet.

    1. Ah, his true character was revealed to you slowly. It’s important to recognize those red flags. you’ll be aware now, Jeri.

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