We’ve all heard the saying that “the devil is in the details”, but do we ever really take that to heart? What does that exactly mean and how can we learn from that little “proverb” or saying that has been passed down throughout generations? That is the million-dollar question…let’s see how this correlates with the past few years of my life.
I think by now, we can all agree that I was starting to realize that I had been dealing with a narcissist, so going forward I will refer to him as “my narc” or “the narc”. The more I have learned about this type of personality within relationships, I am learning that more than 50% of all relationships have at least one narcissist in them. We all have a little narcissism in us, which is in the normal and healthy range, but there are more people than we think that fall right outside the normal range and stay right below the pathological range. And that is a scary thought, but it is also a sign of the times we are currently living in.
*You can find out more from the Mayo Clinic, Help Guide, and Applied Behavior Analysis Programs.
When I first met my narc, I knew something was “off”; something was different about this man but I could not put my finger on it, and it was a red flag that I ignored. He was not like other men who would pursue you with intent, at least not at the very beginning. Looking back, I feel like he was wading in the water so to speak, to see if I would be a viable candidate. Someone that he could manipulate but also someone that would be “acceptable” to his friends. I only know that’s what he wanted because he talked about having a wife like his friends had. For decades he was part of a group of guys and it seemed that he wanted to impress them or at least be equal to them in their lives. Looking back, I can see where he may have felt inadequate and compared himself to the successes in their lives and relationships (but that’s just a theory). Let’s move forward to January of 2022.
Christmas is my favorite holiday, I love everything about it and I can’t wait to get my home decorated and start celebrating. For years prior to December 2021, Christmas had become a holiday that I came to dread. The atmosphere in the home had become weird, oppressed, and it seemed like there was no family unity. It wasn’t joyful like it used to be and nothing flowed normally anymore. This oppressed feeling had become worse over the years; at the beginning, it was just on Christmas Day, but then that heavy feeling started in early December, then it started in November until it ultimately began in October. It felt so heavy at times and so overbearing; it was as if I could literally cut the air with a knife. In December 2021, I decided that was going to be my last of the bad Christmases.
In January 2022, one of my brothers (who lives quite a distance away) showed up at my house because he was worried about me. He sat me down and told me he loved me, then he proceeded to tell me just how much I had changed over the past 12 years. He told me that he had watched me go from being the life of the party, always joking, laughing, young at heart, and smiling to a withered soul who was an empty shell of a person. He said, “I’m going to tell you exactly what our Dad would say if he were living…Get That Man Out Of Your Life, and do it NOW!” He told me that it was obvious to our entire family that the light that used to shine in me was getting dimmer with each passing day. He said it’s almost like you’re slowly dying from a thousand cuts that had been given each day intentionally to suck the life out of you. All I could do was cry and say “I know it”. But I still loved him, even though I was waking up from this so-called fog. All of this was shaking loose the survivor in me, trying to break free. Then he posed the question, “Why do you love him? He certainly doesn’t love you, he offers you nothing but turmoil, he’s no helpmate to you, he only thinks of himself, and you’re always the villain. Is he really worth your sanity?” And at that moment, I could feel that strong, independent young girl push up and push out and all survivor instincts kicked in while he talked.
That afternoon I was sitting in the living room when my narc came home and I told him then that I wanted us to take a break. I asked him to stay with his sister on his days off so I could get clarity on what I wanted in the relationship. As time went by, the heaviness in the house started to lift, and I started to catch a new vibe and a more jovial stride. I could start to see that one person really can set the mood in a home. Within a month of living in two places, he was asking to come back home full-time. When he first asked that question…my head whipped towards him and before I knew it, the words…”I don’t think so, I want more time” had come out of my mouth. He didn’t like that at all and that was when he started his “discard” of me.
Before I go further I need to explain that a narcissist is always the victim. They will start a smear campaign against you long before you ever start having problems in the relationship. They have to show that you are hard to handle, unhappy, argumentative, and hard to live with. They do this so when they make their exit, they are the victim and you are the problem. They do not see the true reality but only the reality they have told themselves over and over to avoid any accountability for their actions.
On numerous occasions, I had told my narc that I had never seen anyone tell a story or an event like he could. I used the analogy that his storytelling of an event was like someone holding a piece of lint. The lint would be the truth, and by the time he had finished his view of the event, the lint had miraculously become a queen-size quilt. In other words, the story told only had a small speck of truth.
Another example would be if he was a few hours late getting in from work, and I would ask where have you been, his response could be something like – he was held up at work or he had errands to run, etc..and that would be the end of the conversation. He could be on the phone later that night talking to a friend and his version would be something similar to…”Oh my God, I got the 3rd degree when I got home. As soon as I walked through the door, she started in on me and was relentless”. That is how narcissists play the victim and start making you the bad guy. They truly see an altered reality that fits their narrative and they honestly believe it is the truth.
Between February and the end of March, things were at a fever pitch. There were barely any civil conversations at this point, only finger-pointing and sarcastic remarks, and the only way to get through the time together was to shut down all communication. Narcissists do not like to talk about problems; they like to sweep everything under the rug and tell you what you have done wrong, twist your words or events, and gaslight you into thinking you are the problem. Remember when I said that I had become an expert at apologizing for any and everything whether I was at fault or not? I learned to accept all responsibility for any and all problems, but that had come to a complete halt. During these two months, I knew separation was inevitable, but he was sticking it out until he had secured someone to take my place. (*keep in mind that narcs will jump straight into another relationship when one starts to dissolve, you start holding them accountable or they begin the discard of you. And more than likely, they have been grooming their “new” or “backup” supply for months.)
It seemed I was on my knees daily for well over a year. In fact, in the summer of 2021, I was seeing how much the world was changing and my only desire was to get back on track with my faith, no matter the cost. And that is when I began praying that the Lord would remove anything from my life that was hindering me from reaching my full potential with Him. I was realizing something was hindering me; something in my life was pulling me one way while my true desire was to walk on a different path. I didn’t realize it then, but I was reaping a harvest that I had sowed. I skipped the red flags, the inner feelings that something wasn’t right with this new relationship and I had aligned myself and walked in agreement with this man because he checked all the boxes and I was smitten. That relationship was slowly changing who I was and had slowly shifted me from the path I was originally on to a path I knew I didn’t belong on.
The Fever Pitch Moment…
Although we had been talking on the phone for days and months, it was more like a bickering fest between two high school lovers. There was always something deep inside me that made me think we would end up ok and the marriage restored. The ups and downs had become so normal in our relationship that this time seemed like it was just another low…just a little more intense than normal. Internally that was how I felt most days, but on other days there was a nagging feeling this was a little deeper than I was willing to admit.
He was on a trip with a bunch of guys and I normally did not bother him when he was on these trips. This time I did call and the immediate response when he answered the call was this, ” I am on my trip, you are not going to ruin it, so unless it is a 911 situation, do not contact me again. Are we clear?”. There was at least a 30-second pause of silence. Then I said, “Oh yeah…we are clear”, then I hung up. Throughout all the years, he had been sarcastic and harsh at times, but this particular time was the harshest, and it ignited a fire in me like I had never felt. I sat in my house thinking about those words for hours. I was not upset, and I was not shocked at his tone or behavior…but I had hit the high water mark with him at that moment. That was the final “cut” I was going to take.
As I sat there, all of a sudden I was up on my feet, and before I knew it, I had started packing the rest of his belongings up. I pulled one of his vehicles under the garage and packed everything that was left in his vehicle. It was kinda like that scene from Waiting To Exhale…without fire and definitely much calmer, LOL. For two days I walked through my house making sure I had every book, fingernail clipper, hat, or tool that belonged to him. Since he had been staying with his sister part-time, there was not a lot of belongings in the home; in fact, I think he had slowly been taking things out here and there. You have to remember that he only stayed at my home the days he worked, there was little communication and that was becoming more argumentative each passing month it seemed. Plus there was a nagging feeling that there was another person involved that I had not completely found out about yet. That information was to come…sooner than later.
Once I was sure that I had removed everything, I sat down and gave him a call. To my surprise, he answered the phone, and the only words that I said were these – “I have packed what you have left here and placed it in your truck, and I do not want you to come back inside my home. We’ve been talking about this for months, and today is the day it’s going to happen. Are we clear?” Then I hung up. I never waited for a response and continued on with my day.
What would unfold in the coming months would cause me to stand in a daze of disbelief. I would learn things that I could not fathom, and though I didn’t realize it at the time, I would soon be thankful for how things had been and were shifting in my life. How I would start to see this was more spiritual than physical. It would take time, but I would soon see that I was one of many who were dealing with things similar to this. I would see that shift in myself and my children; I would see joy start to re-enter our lives, happiness and blessings that would start to come.
When I titled this post, The Devil Is In The Details, what I was saying is that he really was in the details from start to end. I overlooked the details no matter how many times it slapped me in the face. As I tell more in future posts, you will see how things were revealed to me like an open book. You will see how something nefarious had been happening from the very start, but you will also see how something that was intended to destroy ultimately became what empowered me.
*Disclaimer: I am sharing this story from my viewpoint only and I have been given permission by the other person in this relationship to share the story in hopes that it will help others.
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