Claiming Peace: After the sociopath is gone

At 9:12 am on May 21, 2003, the only peace I knew was the unsettling desire to die, the constant throbbing of the voice screaming at me to let go, give in, give up, give over my life to the darkness that consumed me. I wanted to end it all. To have the turmoil and pain and fear of living with an abuser die with me.

At 9:13 am on May 21, 2003, everything changed. Everything shifted and my world as I knew it ended. A police car drove up and I stood watching as two officers stepped from the car.

At 9:14 am I followed the officers into the room where my abuser lay sleeping and watched them arrest him.

They took him away and I sat in a chair in a room I did not recognize, captive in a body I could not feel. I was catatonic. Frightened. Terrified. I had 72 cents in my pocket, a few clothes and my dog, Ellie, who had journeyed through that four year, nine month voyage through hell beside me. She was my ballast but with his arrest, I was cast adrift. I clung to her fur, cried into her shoulders but still fear eroded my being, clawed at my heart, tore my world apart.

In my fear that this horror that I was enduring would be the rest of my life, I didn’t know where I’d find myself. I didn’t know where I’d come ashore. I only knew, I had run out of options. Run out of running away, of hiding, of being frightened and alone.

I called my sister and she and her husband came to get me. We drove the hour from the small town where I had been hiding out with my abuser for 4 months, into Vancouver. They didn’t ask me questions. They didn’t prod and poke. They didn’t dig into where I’d been nor share their fear and anger. They let me sit in silence in the back seat of their car and I was grateful.

My abuser was gone but still I felt the tendrils of his control lapping at the shores of my consciousness. I felt the fear of his absence from my life ripping at the delicate thought of freedom seeping into my mind. The enticement of peace from his abuse and anger seepped quietly into a tiny corner of my heart and began to take up residence.

It was the first peace I had known for months, years even. The first sense of peace I’d let in since meeting the man who’d promised to love me ’til death do us part, and then set about making the death part come true, sooner rather than later.

And in that moment of peace, sitting in the back seat of my sister’s car, Ellie beside me, I watched the countryside roll by and wondered, where had I gone?

It would be many months before I found an answer I could live with, but in the intervening weeks, I would dig deep into my psyche to uncover the truth about what had happened to me. In my digging, I would discover there was one choice I could make, every moment of every day — to be or not to be filled with peace — peace of mind, a peaceful heart, to claim a piece of calmness within my day.

Peace didn’t come cheap. It came with great effort. With a constant reminder of the question, “What do I want to create? Harmony or discord?” “Is what I am doing creating more harmony in my life? Or less?”

And when the answer was, ‘less’, I would ask myself, “What can I do to restore peace of mind, right now, in this moment? What am I willing to do to have more of what I want in my life?”

He was arrested in May. By July I was working, rebuilding my life. I had one focus and that was to heal myself so that I could help my daughters heal. And constantly I reminded myself, my peace of mind comes when I know that what I am doing creates more of what I want in my life and less of what I don’t.

And peace came. It drifted into my being like fog rising from the ocean shores upon which I walked at night with Ellie. It came. Dressed up in a gossamer gown of morning dew resting upon the delicate petals of the flowers strewn across the garden in a joyful disarray of colour. It seeped in, shrouded in the night falling sweetly upon the end of day. Peace came and I became filled with peace of mind.

And then, the phone call arrived. It was a hot summer’s morning in August. I was getting ready to walk to the Seabus that would carry me across the bay to the downtown core. I was getting ready and peace of mind slept unaware of the moment about to arrive. The phone rang. I answered it and listened to the disturbing words of a police officer.

“Conrad has escaped from jail. We don’t know where he is but we assume he’ll come looking for you… Just thought we should warn you.”

And in one moment, my peace of mind evaporated. My sense of well-being vanished.

I started to shake. To cry. To be consumed with the fiery fringe of fear lapping at my heart, sending its beat into erratic rhythm.

My mind began to race. What if… no way… but then he could…

I shut the windows. Locked the door. And still I feared.

I wanted out. I didn’t want to let go of my peace of mind.

I took a breath. Refused to be scared. I got Ellie’s leash and called her to my side. “Let’s go for a walk,” I said.

The thought of the great outdoors enticed her. She didn’t care about my peace of mind. She just wanted to go for a walk.

And so we walked. Out the front door, through the gate, down the street. A left and then a right, across the avenue, along the trail leading into the woods. My sanctuary. My respite. My peaceful place.

I took a step into the forest’s tranquil embrace. A leaf rustled on the ground. A twig snapped.

Fear erupted. Peace escaped.

Suddenly, behind every branch, he lurked. Every rustle of leaf was his footstep. Every step took me closer to a deadly encounter.

I lasted less than two minutes in the woods before I bolted.

Peace was no longer possible. Terror reigned.

I raced down the street, back towards my sister’s home where I was living. I raced with Ellie loping beside me. It’s a game, her upturned face seemed to say. Can we play?

No, I cried. No time to play. We’ve got to get home. Home to the safety of a locked door, drawn blinds, darkness.

And in the comfort of my room, lying on my bed, Ellie watching me from the floor beside me, I cried and I cried.

How dare he steal my peace of mind. How dare he erode my tranquility.

“He doesn’t have to,” a voice somewhere in the darkness of my mind whispered. “You don’t have to let him in.”

“It’s not my choice,” I cried.

“You always have a choice,” the voice admonished.

I took a breath. A choice? A peaceful choice? The voice was right. I always have a choice.

To live in fear or peace?

Which would I choose?

There is a story of a First Nations elder who tells his grandson about the two wolves that live within each of us. One is black. One is white, he tells his grandson. And always, they are fighting to gain control of our being.

“Which one wins?” the grandson asks.

“Whichever one you feed,” replies the elder.

I fed the black wolf that day. I fed it my hard won peace of mind, my sense of well-being, my comfort. I fed what I had worked so hard to achieve and still it was hungry. It wanted more.

I had so little to give. I could not give it what I cherished most.

I took a breath and let my breath feed oxygen to the white wolf where it sat waiting at the doorway to my mind. With each breath I stoked the fires of my passion to live with peace of mind residing deep within me, a calm, clear lake of tranquility resting at my core.

I took a breath and chose to let go of fear and step into courage. I chose to let courage drive fear out, as I drove clear of the darkness.

I claimed my peace of mind and stepped out into the sunshine of the day, confident in my choice to live fearlessly in the rapture of now. I took a breath and slid effortlessly into the grace of being free to choose more of what I want of my life, letting go of what no longer serves me.

The question is: Which wolf will you feed?

Posted in: M.L. Gallagher

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259 Comments on "Claiming Peace: After the sociopath is gone"

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Thanks Rosa – it came out all in one go in about fifteen minutes 🙂 I was feeling pretty down on V day but then remembered I am the lucky one to be free of him 🙂 Hope you’re having a great day and not feeling down as I was!


Thank you for the encouragement. I needed that today. It’s Valentines Day … and all of the hearts and flowers are reminding me only of broken promises and betrayal.

I am going to work in the nursing home in a few minutes. I’ll put on my smiley face and put forward all the love and caring I have to brighten the day for the elderly. They’re a special bunch of people and I’m getting attached.

gotta run

Dear Midlife,

One of the things most of us old hands talked about long ago is that our friends “don’t get it” that this is not just a “normal break up.” It is a LOT MORE. And so in the end we quit talking about it to our friends that don’t get it.l That has been a common theme here for some tme. I think there are even some articles about that.

I suggest that you spend a lot of time going back and reading all the articles that are archived in LF. Not all the comments on themm maybe,, but just the articles themselves. Also, sometimes you are not YET ready to receive the information in an article yet, and so it never hurts once you have essentially read them all, that you go back and re-read some once in a while. I have pretty well read every article here (Knowledge=power) though I do find one occasionally that I have missed, but I find I get more information NOW out of some I have read in the past and wasn’t read then to take in all the information in that article.

Keep in mind too, for all the people who are on the road to healing here and have been for some time, there are plenty of people who READ and do not post at all.

We have had people on here who were in PHYSICAL DANGER and we advised them to leave or kick him out, and they were not ready to receive that advice, and many times they will come back later, sometimes will receive it then, but sometimes are still not ready and go back to him, over and over.

This “healing journey” starts out about them, but ends up being about US. We can’t do anything except get away from the Ps, and learn what the red flags are and to AVOID them in relationships in the future.

Also, sometimes we are “too close to the trees to see the forest” and someone here who has been on the road longer can say “that’s a FLAG” but we don’t recognize it as such, and may actually become angry that someone would say that. Later, though, we may realize what they are saying is true.

I remember one poster in particular who came here repeatedly with horror stories about her physically abusive and sexually perverted husband and how he abused the kids, etc. she kept going back to him even with all the support that we gave her.

It is up to each of us to educate ourselves, to then ACT on that education, and only I think, people who have been through the process can fully appreciate the trauma we have been through before we got out, and the grief we feel after we have gotten out, and all the other flip-flop emotions.

That’s why support here where we do get it is so important, maybe your other friends will get it, but my experience is only 1-2 ever will, if any. Hang in there and stay with us, even if what we say makes you angry, just realize it is meant with love and support! (((hugs))))


If you wrote that poem in 15 minutes, then I think you have a GIFT.
I hope you are getting paid for your brilliant writing skills.
If not, then you should be.


Thank you, ErinBrock.
I hope your date goes well tonight.

I’ve got 6 more hours……although I may require 6 hours of prep….HAHAHA…..I’m not going to do it.
I’m going to take a nappypoo, I did my nails last night… the outfit ready……I should probably wash my car…..but we’ll see about that…..I’m going to make some late breakfast…
pancakes, bacon and eggs… i’m not starving when I meet mr. armed marshall……plus….it sounds good to me….for some reason….???

Maybe I’ll take a bath too…..

I stayed up way too late last night….when Iwas signing off….I did a google search on Soc #2 & 3….and found something on him….so it totally redirected me and I went into EB attack mode……whenever these things come up….it gives me such a rush…..and I laugh, and laugh at how I can turn the tables on a con!
It offers me ‘pleasure’…just thinking about it…..

Thanks darlen….I hope it goes well too!


They do wrongs and we suffer and suffer. It creates so much outrage and how the hell can you vent outrage on a person devoid of any emotions that actually give a damn…………..learning that my outrage is a pointless emotion with him but when it is a natural reaction where does all this emotion get its outlet? Has anyone any suggestions please?


Good question! You are justifiably outraged with all the stuff that’s happened and you have to find ways to deal with it. I’ve tried to vent to the h-spath in the past, attempting to have him hear how his actions have affected me – the h-spath wants to get away fast, not wanting to hear any of my complaints. Everything that I’ve read about these people, I have pretty much learned first-hand. Anyway, posters have come up with ways to vent, getting the anger out (eg. punching a pillow, journaling, etc.). You are good at expressing yourself, articulating what many people go through as a result of a spath encounter.

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