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By February 19, 2014 14 Comments Read More →

Divorcing a Sociopath: Redefining Possessions

by Quinn Piercequinn pierce blog

What’s Yours Is Mine…

When teaching preschoolers, it can be very entertaining to watch the children interact according to the inherent set of rules set forth by this age group.

This list of rules may be long, but the rules themselves are very simple:

  • If it’s mine, it’s mine
  • If it’s yours, it’s mine
  • If I like it, it’s mine
  • If I think it’s mine, it’s mine
  • If I can take it from you, it’s mine
  • If it’s broken, it’s your fault…and so on.

 Everything Is His Possession

Interestingly, this is the same set of rules that my ex-husband applied to our divorce.  It became very clear that he considered every object in his life a possession, including people, and he was entitled to each and every one.  It was as if he believed I was trying to steal everything that belonged to him, and I was not deserving of any of it.

All of a sudden, the business I helped create and run for over ten years was his, and I was out to ruin him.  The house that was bought in my name was something I didn’t deserve to live in.  He claimed all the furniture, including every bed, couch, and all artwork, unless it wasn’t up to his standard.  He actually took our bed- which I was happy to get rid of, and our children’s beds- not caring if they had to sleep on the floor.  According to him, I could ‘keep’ the boys and the other things he left behind, as long as his lifestyle didn’t change.

As Long as Nothing Changes

That was his concession.  He didn’t want anything in his life to change.  I’m not sure, exactly, how he intended to keep everything status-quo, but it was just one of many incomprehensible statements he made during our divorce.  All I wanted was my boys, and the guarantee that they could remain in their independent school.

The other items on the divorce decree that my lawyer suggested included my ex-husband maintaining his life insurance with the boys as beneficiaries, continuing to pay all three of our health insurance, since I was fired from the business, and thus had no access to health care, putting any shares that were mine into trust for the boys, and to keep the family home if I gave up the rental properties and took his name off the debt.

 If He Thinks It’s His…

My ex was enraged by the offer.  He insisted that I was trying to destroy him, and he threatened to close the business before giving in to such demands.  He seemed to forget that I, personally, invested more in the business than he did and I was walking away from all of it, including future earnings.  His response was: He owned 50% and his partner owned 50%, I owned nothing.

I was stunned by that at first.  Not only did I start this business with him, but I ran the entire office and did every scrap of paperwork, taxes, and banking for twelve years.  I even designed the logo.  But, it follows the predictable toddler mentality of ‘If I think it’s mine, it’s mine.”

This carried through every aspect of the divorce.  He was constantly referring to things in the house as ‘his’, even though I had been granted all things remaining in the home.  He even began arguments about certain things I was ‘holding hostage’ or had manipulated the courts to give me that should have gone to him. I didn’t even know what items he was referring to half the time, they were so trivial.

Bully Tactics

In keeping with his sense of entitlement, he followed a very predictable path after an agreement was made for the final divorce decree.  The first thing he did was find a replacement family complete with children the same ages and gender as ours.  The second was to claim financial hardship so that he could eliminate the school payment proclaiming the children could go to public school and I could explain that it was my fault.  (Ok, should I also explain his Caribbean vacation, new car, and his step-children’s private school?)

And the last thing he did was not follow through on any of the other items on the list, forcing me to either take him back to court or cut my losses.  This is a recurring theme, and something I am faced with regularly.  I have learned that there is little use in trying to hold him accountable, but sometimes, it’s a matter of principle and standing strong against a bully who will continue to harass me, the one who betrayed him, at any cost.

The Blame Game

The last rule on the toddler list that I mentioned, If it’s broken, it’s your fault, is his favorite all-encompassing explanation these days.  Anything that goes wrong with my children, his business, or his life in general, for that matter, is my fault.  He is incapable of taking responsibility for his own actions, they are always the result of someone else who wronged him in some way.

It’s almost comforting, I have to admit, that he remains so despicably unchanged.  It reinforces that my decision to end the destructive marriage was the right one.  It also makes his behavior very predictable.

Unfortunately, just like raising a toddler, or teaching a class full of preschoolers, it is exhausting.  Maybe that’s why I prefer teaching the upper elementary school grades, I’ve been dealing with an adult size toddler for twenty years.  I think it’s time to retire.



14 Comments on "Divorcing a Sociopath: Redefining Possessions"

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  1. Quinn – you are so right – they have the mentality of a preschooler. I wish we could put them in permanent time out.



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    • Barb says:

      I read in “Lighthouse” (everything to know about narcissism) that having a narcissist for a parent is akin to being raised by a 2-year-old.



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      • aintgonnatakeitnomore says:

        oh i can SOOOO imagine. that is how the NPD related to my kids. like a 2yo!!!
        “im not going to talk to u anymore then!”
        “well then u cant use mine”
        “well then i’ll do it to you!”
        can u imagine being under the authority of such an adult?? trying to model their behavior when ur trying to grow UP??
        my one chuckle is that the NPDs son is JUST Like Him. A User. An ass. And mostly ignores dad. HAHAHAHAHA, sucks to be the NPD sometimes :p



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        • Dave says:

          wow this story sounds kinda like mine she gets the business, the house, the kids, and everything I helped pay for in the house, of course that’s cause we were never legally married.

          aint, lol I remember with alcohol, if I ever drank hers she would get so pissed off, even if I asked first, yet she would ask me and I would gladly pour her a drink or let her have a beer. One time she had nothing for a week and didn’t feel like going to the store, so 3 different times I let her have a shot of my vodka, then she got a 6 pack one night and while I was cooking dinner I wanted a beer and asked her and she gave me this nasty look and shook her head no. I complained to no avail about how I offered her some of mine 3 times last week yet I couldn’t have one beer of hers and how that was selfish. To take this even further when she would buy beer she would many times buy nasty beer that she knew I would never touch, yet if I had some in there and she didn’t sometimes she would say “how much beer do you have left, can I have a glass?”

          I remember once I had her on my car insurance policy and she kicked me out, couple days later I removed her and she called me flipping out, well what did you think that I was gonna pay your insurance still?



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  2. thetenthchair says:

    Quinn,
    I was a little bit lucky on that front. In March of 2010, after doing a lot of reading thru psych books i realized that my ex was a spath. I had divorced him the year before and moved into a small one bedroom house, close by the 10,000 sq ft house I built,so I could stay close to the kids. He stayed in the big house with the kids and his gay lover. I also gave him the business I had started and made him CEO of in order to give him something to be proud of in himself. I handed over everything just to get out. I did get a hefty alimony check. Even after the split and divorce, he never left me alone – always coming around crying blah blah blah – you all know the routine. Soon we were dating again and soon I was living in the big house again. Within the yr I realized what he was and I needed a plan to set things right so I bought him a beautiful condo and moved him out. Then I remarried him. Why? to get my house and my company back. I got my company back and he continued to drag his feet about the house even though he now lived in a condo nearby. Still he kept coming round, now with a new lover wanting us to be together. Once I found the right diagnosis for him, it was weird – it was like the plug was pulled and nothing he could do would re-engage me. I made him a nice offer to divorce at the 6 month mark of out remarriage and he agreed. We had a written agreement. The month I was to file the paper, my daughter told me about the decade of sexual abuse and torture. It wasn’t long that my behavior made it clear that something drastic had changed and he confronted my daughter about snitching. Once he knew I knew, I knew that he would try and claim that this was a tactic for the divorce to get (HAHAHA I have to laugh) more of HIS assets. So lets look back on his history, when we meet 9he worked for me) and he came to my home with a garbage bag of clothes, a tool box a 3 yr old son and a car with a debt on it. I owned the house and the business. Through the years I paid for schools (he always dropped out) aviation school, nursing school, college – he never could finish anything – -but I wanted more of HIS stuff. At the time of the divorce, I had made him CEO and he was making about 600k (30k/month of which was being spent on drugs)But it was all HIS stuff. He started stealing from the house (along with the drugged up teens he kept loyal through an unending supply of free drugs) he stole trucks and farm equipment, guns, hunting gear and even tried to have his flunkies take apart a barn from the property in the dead of night. I got a tip and threatened to call the police. The coup de grace came when he filed a motion in court to have me declared incompetent and have me committed so he could move back into the house. Here he was with no job, no education, nothing of substance. I had a thriving business, and was in a small medical practice working part-time as a provider. Yet I was incompetent. What he wanted was HIS big house. The judge mused the he usually has to decide who can stay in the only house the divorcing couple owns and here we had 3 properties and he wanted them all!! needless to say he got nowhere. Fast forward nearly 4 yrs. I moved from a nearly 10,000 sq ft house into a 1200 sqft house and had to put up a huge barn just to store all the furniture and appliances and vehicles etc and that was only what was left after he and his friends pillaged the property. Still it was an albatross that I had to pay to store, worry about damaging and move repeatedly until I got it all home. Thank god there wasn’t more of it. In the last few months I have started taking a realistic look at this items and giving away or selling them. The belong to another life, a life I don;t want back. But I know that I was lucky, although the divorce dragged on for 12 months, after 4 months I realized the lawyers were getting no where so I let them go and did the rest myself. he got exactly what I offered him from the beginning, but ended up owing his attorney $80k. I can live with that.



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  3. eggshellsnomore says:

    Quinn,
    Once again you nailed it! When I left my ex, we were at the time living in a house that I owned prior to our marriage. I left the area and allowed him to stay in the house. Before I moved out, I had packed up all of “my” belongings and left the boxes at the house. I was careful to only take things which I owned prior to the marriage or that I had purchased after. And only things that were of benefit to me or my child, since the child was moving with me. My Ex insisted on keeping all of the child’s furniture,which he claimed that he bought. I had left the house a few days before actually having the movers arrive, and left my sealed boxes behind. It wasn’t until after I had relocated and began unpacking my boxes that I realized he had gone into them, taken what he wanted, filled boxes with useless items to make them appear full and re-taped them!! He took things totally useless to him, like cookware, and bathroom items, as well as my personal computers and baby items. I was so careful to not pack anything, not even cooking utensils, that were not personally something I had brought into the marriage! At our mediation, I agreed that he would not pay child support, not pay healthcare, and I even paid him money to just get away! When the agreement was met, the mediator looked at me and said “congratulations, you just bought your child!” Honestly, I bought my freedom and a better life for my child. Every dime I ever made while married went into the family, the marital home , the cars, the groceries, the utilities etc. “His income,” when he had one, was spent on himself! Eating out every day while I was at work, toys, sporting equipment, personal things for himself, or extravigant and unnecessary household items or “improvements.” He even received a large sum of money and blew it entirely on himself in less than a year, never once putting anything aside for our child’s care or the child’s future. Ultimately, I know that it is up to me to provide for my child,and I can and will do so without the support of my ex. But it just galls me that I am accused of being the selfish one, the “broke” one, and the one that “he supported” when in fact I was the only one with a consistent income supporting the household and our child, and the only one continuing to do so today.



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  4. HanaleiMoon says:

    There is no fair with these people. I wasn’t married to mine and we had never lived together, but we had some stuff at each others homes (including things I loaned him from my home to stage his home for sale). He got everything back, including things he had given me as gifts and now claimed were his, and I got nothing back. Not one thing. Because we had bought a house in another state together, his things were with me there, and he had the nerve to direct me to accumulate “his” things in the garage, obtain three quotes from movers for his review and he would direct me from there as to how to return his things. My attorney ended up getting him to agree to me putting his things into a storage unit and him arranging to get them. There wasn’t much of any real value but I made sure to photograph everything. He drove here to pick the stuff up and could easily have brought and dropped my stuff off but of course not. Meanwhile, his new wife is enjoying using my stuff now. I’ll say it again – there is no fair with these people. I have become an expert at letting things go because outside of my very life, there is not much worth having to deal with this monster over.



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  5. aintgonnatakeitnomore says:

    both the spath and the NPD acted like toddlers well b4 the splits lol. to think they would act like any thing else would be illogical. esp wen it comes to children, its insidiously evil to be in contact w/the implications of and w/their thinking. what urs, whats mine, what i have decided, all are MINE. and what breaks is URS.
    nice way to live, trapped in the mind of a 2-5yo.
    then we are forced by the legal system to continue contact. justice is often a myth.



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  6. 1day@atime says:

    What I noticed during my 30-year marriage was that I felt everything was “ours.” I was always willing to share whatever resources, personal items, whatever, with him and our kids. It’s just how a family operates, I thought. But he always had certain things he wanted off-limits to everyone else. Petty things – his jar of pocket change – if the kids needed lunch money, that was not his problem. He had a frying pan he specifically kept up on a high shelf only he could reach to use for cooking eggs. I was not allowed to touch it because he didn’t like how I washed such pans. Little things like this always puzzled me, but of course, these were just the beginning.



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  7. Divorced from Gaslighter says:

    If you know that you are leaving, try to gradually move out some of your possessions, especially family heirlooms, before the final breakup. In a divorce, the furniture and appliances are generally valued at what they would bring at a garage sale, which is about 10% or so. Most of the time, the stuff just isn’t worth fighting over, and if the marriage was awful, you aren’t going to want to create a “shrine” to the relationship with a new house or apartment filled with all of the stuff you owned as a couple.

    Make a list of things that you want to take ahead of time, add to it as you think of additional things, and really only take the things that have real meaning for you. The Christmas ornaments & china may be important to you, but do you really want to hang onto the sofa that he always sat on, on the bed that he always slept in?

    Go with a new color scheme, and make furniture out of orange crates if necessary until you can afford to buy something else. A few estate sales or a trip to the local consignment shop can furnish you with the relatively few items that you actually need to set up housekeeping.

    Old books intended for brides from the 60s/70s often have lists of basic items that you need, as well as a list of foods that you need to stock a pantry from scratch. Instead of fighting over the TV set, you might be better off to make a list and buy a few items brand new each month for a few months before you leave.

    I left nearly all of the furniture behind when I moved out (I moved out by myself, and only took boxed up items, no furniture or appliances) and my ex and his attorney STILL complained at every hearing that I had “stripped” the family home and left him with nothing. When you leave, ask the apartment manager to come over and take photos of all the rooms with all the furniture you left behind (take photos of the closets full of stuff, too) and give her your keys and get your name off the lease.



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  8. NoMoreWool says:

    Listening to my sociopathic spouse talk, the divorce is all about possessions and money. I speak of giving the children a healthy lifestyle as free from the sociopath’s influence as possible, regardless of how I walk away in terms of money or possessions. This article hits the nail on the head in likening sociopaths to two year olds!



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  9. Sociosugar says:

    When I met my husband his sociopathic ex wife had already moved on and remarried her 5th victim. She was infuriated that her ex husband had “moved on”. She expected him to stay single and cater to her every whim for the rest of his life. Just so she could make sure he was miserable. She had taken all the things she wanted out of the house. But left some tacky furniture and other home decor that my husband had in garage. When we married she began harassing my husband about getting her stuff. She even was calling him on mothers days saying she was going to be at our home with a uhaul truck to get it. We said ok, come get it. She didn’t show up ever. I got so tired of her threats we moved her junk to a storage building and agreed to pay for the building for 3 months. So she could get it anytime she wanted. She of course never got it. And never paid for storage building after 3 months were up. She never really complained about the junk furniture stuff after.

    She never wanted any of that tacky stuff. She just likes having something that she could harass and bother my husband about. So as soon as got the crap out of our home. And put it in storage room for her to get out within 3 months. She didn’t bring it up. Yet she never got the stuff, as the storage unit people called after 4 months and ask my husband what he wanted to do with stuff. He said nothing. That if his ex wife wanted to take over payments or get stuff she could. He let his ex know that the stuff had been there And she could get. But she never did. She still tries to find material things to use against him. But she has realized that the children are always going to be her best way to harass and make his life miserable. Even though one of them will be 18 soon. We realize it won’t matter of the kids are 25, she will still bother and harass him, she will always find something.

    My husband currently found out he has cancer. So he has changed his number and has NO CONTACT with her. Because the cancer is so stressful. And he is so exhausted, he just cannot deal with her nonsense anymore. She knew he was sick, but that didnt stop her from making the most outrageous demands from him. She is the most selfish, hateful and just mean spirited person I have ever seen. The no contact has really been good tho. She of course always finds a way. Rather sending notes with the kids or whatever. My husband is just fighting for his life now and he can’t fight a sociopath too…



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    • NoMoreWool says:

      I hope your husband has the kids drop the notes directly into the trash can unread. It sounds like they are old enough to understand the concept of no contact and that your husband is not interested in any messages she may send through them.



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