I've had other similar experiences. Becoming self-aware of who I am (manipulative, ruthless, unempathetic, etc.) was a watershed moment. I even used to be terrible at music, particularly jazz improvisation, until one day it just clicked and I can play solos over any sort of chord changes. Again, both of these changes were huge. It's as if one day I woke up being able to slam dunk a basketball or run a five minute mile. And I worked for all of it, but there was some sort of cognitive block keeping me from really internalizing the concepts until suddenly there wasn't.
In some ways I guess this is why I am so bullish on the possibility of living my life one way and then finally discovering a new way to live. It's one of the hidden benefits from having a weak sense of self -- there's not that much of an attachment to who I currently am. Maybe one day I will have changed so much that I no longer identify as a sociopath? Because even that identification did not really come from within, but from seeing the way people reacted to me -- their expectations of me and the way that I met, failed, or exceeded those expectations. I liked this quote from Annemarie Roeper about this from her book "The 'I' of the Beholder":
We don’t really understand our Selves or what life is. It is a mystery, and this fact is hard to accept. Humankind has developed many theories about you and believes they are facts, but in the end, all we can see is your behavior, your reactions to the world around you, and the world’s reaction to you.
So not only are we constantly changing (and have such an incredible ability to change), but our sense of self changes as the world changes, and consequently our reactions to the world and the world's reaction to us. I wonder what most sociopaths would look like if the world's reaction to us were more positive.