By | October 30, 2013 12 Comments

Recovery From A Sociopath: Redefining Success

By Quinn Pierce


I was very proud to be sitting in the front row in my pretty new dress, listening to the speaker praise us for our accomplishments and hard work.  I had spent two years taking classes at night while running a business from home and taking care of my two children.  There were nights I would be so tired after a three hour class that I would have to pull over and rest my eyes for a few minutes during my hour long commute home late at night.

Balancing Act

Most nights, I would come home to a relatively calm house, the boys asleep, my husband watching tv.  But, some nights I would return to find invoices that need to be entered before the next day, or estimates that needed to be typed so my husband could deliver them to clients in the morning.

I remember thinking it would be a miracle if I didn’t fall sleep in front of the computer.  After a while, it was a routine my body was used to.  I woke up early to get the boys ready for school, tried to clean the house a little in order to clear a path to my office, spend the day alternating between business work and school work, then pick up the boys and get ready to head out for my classes once my husband got home and settled.

On the weekends, I usually had to complete school requirements that were assigned outside of class, or group projects, so I tried to schedule those around the boys’ sports and social schedules.  So, to say I was looking forward to completing my program is an understatement.

A Lonely Accomplishment

But, as proud and happy as I was to be sitting there waiting for my name to be called, I was weighed down by an immense sadness at the same time.

As I looked around at the families and friends gathered for the graduation ceremony, I felt an emptiness that was almost paralyzing.  I always pictured my boys at my graduation, excited and proud to see their mom finally complete this program that took her away from home so much in the past two years.  However, I knew I would not see their faces among the crowd.  I knew they were probably confused about not being there, or maybe they didn’t even realize I wasn’t just “at school” like every other night.

It all depends on what my husband said to them.  And I’m guessing he didn’t say anything positive, if he did mention it at all.

A Turn of Events

We had been arguing for months.  It had reached the point where I had been asking him to move out for several weeks.  He was so enraged by this show of independence and my utter rejection of him after 14 years of marriage, that he began his campaign of rage and paranoia.

So, here I was, sitting alone, trying to figure out how this man who started out with complete support of my continuing education, sending me flowers and bragging to everyone about my schooling, had changed into this monster who refused to take my children to see me graduate and closed the door with a menacing scowl as I left the house.

I didn’t want to argue with him before I left.  The boys had witnessed enough of that lately, and I didn’t want to be leaving the house after an argument;  I was afraid the boys would be scared that I was leaving them.  At the same time, I didn’t want to let him take this accomplishment away from me.  As difficult as it was attending my graduation alone, it was important to my sense of self-worth and dignity.

Confronting the Bully

My husband was on a campaign to hurt me as much as possible, and I was not about to let him use intimidation to prevent me from moving forward.  I had lived with a bully long enough.

About a year later, he finally moved out of our home, kicking and screaming all the way.  But, before he left, he made one last insult that still echoes in my head today.   Not because it hurt me as intended, but because it was so absurd that I was actually speechless.

We had been arguing about all the unfinished projects and broken promises that remained around my home.  He looked at me with his stone cold eyes (how could I ever have thought they were loving and beautiful?) and he said it was just like me to always want everything turn-key and never get my hands dirty.

Never get my hands dirty? I had just spent ten years running his two businesses from home while raising our children, and for two years, going to school at night and working on the weekends.  I took the boys to every doctor’s appointment, every soccer game, every birthday party. I took care of the house as best I could. All I did was get my hands dirty.

While he, on the other hand, criticized, blamed, accused, and insulted me.  He told me I was crazy, depressed, and the reason he didn’t come home much.  The reality was, I was finally healthy, and I was aware of his sociopathic behavior.  I could see him for what he was.  I was a threat-soon to become the enemy.

I remain the enemy to this day, and no doubt for the rest of my life, to my ex-husband.  He has no more control over important events in my life.  And that is unacceptable to him.  For me, it’s the greatest gift I ever gave myself.

Redefining Success

This past winter, I completed my master’s degree in education.  I was extremely proud of my accomplishment, and I felt very special as I received my degree while wearing my fancy robe and my advanced-degree hood.

But nothing will ever compare to looking out into the crowd and seeing my family- the love of my life, who encouraged me with continuous love and support from the application to the graduation, and my two precious boys, my treasures, cheering and smiling, right in the front of the crowd.

And in that moment, I will filled with more love and gratitude than I ever thought possible. In the past two and a half years, we had all gotten our hands dirty, and this degree belonged to all of us.  It represented more than just an education earned in the classroom.  To me, it was a symbol of healing after years of living with an abusive sociopath.

We have all worked hard on this journey toward strength, and we earned this accomplishment together. Our home is now safe, happy, and best of all, healthy.

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Quinn – Congratulations – not only for your degree. Congratulations for more than surviving – for thriving! For getting rid of the dead weight and allowing yourself to soar!


Congratulations, Quinn! I echo Donna’s sentiments!


Congratulations on realizing your dream!I had to chuckle when you mentioned the sociopath “kicking and screaming” as he left! 🙂 Their leaving or our leaving is like pulling teeth!My husband did the same thing when I left.Rather than accept it as something coming because of his behavior,he thought by scaring the neighbors,I’d give myself up!


Congrats Quinn!! So glad your family was there for you. 🙂

I can also relate to how hard it is to get them to leave. I forced mine out immediately because I was worried he’d rob me blind if I didn’t. He tried to convince me to let him keep the keys for my house and garage and I’m so glad I refused. I had both of my older boys there to make sure he ONLY left with what was his…and then he proceeded to tell everyone he knew that ‘she’s just bitter because I left her’. LOLOL Still to this day people relay that to me. I tell them to ask my sons about it..since all 3 of us were there when I kicked him out.



Congratulations on your accomplishment! I so admire what you have done and it is an inspiration to me. I have never had the opportunity to get a degree but have always wanted to. I graduated high school an honor student but married at 19, had 5 children and gave my family 200%. After marrying the spath after being a single mother for 11 years, I thought my life was over and I would never recover mentally, physically or financially. I have been seriously tossing around the idea of going to school and reading your story has ignited that desire again. Thanks and good luck!


Congratulations Quinn, this is a beautiful story that reminds me to stay strong in my struggles with the ongoing “nasty” divorce. You are absolutely right, my husband became my worst enemy the night he left. And did he continue on his “warrior path of destruction”. Like you said, his eyes became the coldest I have ever seen. The night he left I put my hand on his arm and he yelled and screamed “you crazy psycho bitch,don’t you touch me,I don’t love you anymore.” It was an unimaginable pain. All th while he was leaving for the young co worker. I am finding strength on this website and I know I will be ok. I am looking forward to the future, to getting stronger and most importantly to get this divorce finalized . Luckily my so is 19 and we never, ever have to talk to this monster again. Thank you, young co worker deputy, for being his new victim. I will never feel sorry for you because you knew he was married with a family. But I am sure thankful to you for taking my place.

Susie T

Through tears, I congratulate you AND thank you! We MUST push through the “voice” of the sociopath/narcissist in our heads, and remember who we are, and what we were created to do in life! Healthy days are here again!


Congratulations and the Best Wishes for you! I felt a special warmth as I read your story of completing your education. In 1996, I also completed a Master’s degree (MAT) and attended alone.
In retrospect, it was good we did do this all alone, I believe.
It seemed to be a moment of where no one of ill will should have “ungraced” us with their presence! May you have a special memory of the day you sat among others and received the degree that you earned with many pangs of doubt, fears, and uncertainties.
Your persistence and love for yourself did prevail. You claim this victory as yours! Kudos to you for being so brave. Donna T.


Congratulations, Quinn!

Not sure my parents ever showed up at my high school graduation. They never gave me a card or party (“party” was a foreign word to them anyway).

I received a Bachelor’s in English in 1979 and went on to earn a teaching certificate in 1980.

So proud of you…and your courage and strength.

You go, Girl!


Thank you for sharing the amazing success you have had in completing you education and life with a person with sociopathic issues.

I experienced a similar fate with a marriage to a man who for the first six years seemed normal until I was expecting my first child. I had told him I wanted a house before we had children. I had my son and then a second child so I had two boys 21 months apart in age. At this point my husband decided he had to be his own man and quit a very secure job. It took about a year for the full truth of what he had done. With two small children I had to find part time work and a care giver to have money to pay bills. He had no idea how to run a businesses or how cut throat it was and how little he would earn in his field. He did rebuild his career although their were many stretches of unemployment.

Then he was out of work for stretches of time and I became pregnant with my third child and had to work when she was a baby also. I ended up within two years of this working two jobs although both part time to keep us in a home and pay utility bills. When the boys where small I tried to return to University to get a degree however my husband told me he would not be around to help as I he had to think of his career.

I somewhat lucked out with one of the jobs and worked for psychology Professor in his private practice. Although at the time I didn’t learn about sociopath I did start to understand psychology and consider those years my university training. Eventually the work and relationship took its toll on my health and working nights with teenagers was not a good idea so I stopped work. I did support my children with their university educations.

After years of little holidays I decided to go to Australia to visit family and I did this twice. In 2010 the December issue of a magazine I read had an article about a sociopath and the site
I have never looked back and continue to learn about the effects of sociopathy. Not all of us make it to the podium of higher education as my daughter will this Monday to pick up her double degree but we can support our families to make it to their milestones of education and also teach them how to avoid sociopathy in other people.

I did stay with my husband as I realized his issues (an uneducated family and an abusive private school) had caused him to be emotionally blind and a narcissist. Basically he knew when my son told him that I thought the only person he had ever loved was himself the effect his behaviour had had on his family. I also accept the fact his has mental health issues. I put family first but paid the price. Thank you Donna for lighting the path of awareness that makes life liveable for the rest of us.


I love this happy ending. There have been many challenges and seemingly insurmountable obstacles, but hope is filling my heart. I will survive.

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