Seeing the Light

It’s Narcissist Friday!     


How long did it take you to see the light? Some have lamented that it took 40 years for them to see the truth and do something about it. So many wish they had separated from their narcissist before they had kids, signed that contract, moved their family for the new job. They kick themselves for not seeing the light sooner.

“Wasted time.” That’s what they call it. Time in which they could have been happy. Time in which they could have accomplished some of their dreams. Time that was lost to fear and sadness and turmoil.

Listen: I don’t believe that was wasted time! Every moment of my life has been used to bring me to where I am today. Maybe I didn’t accomplish all I wanted when I wanted, but I am here now and glad of it. I didn’t like all the things that have happened. I certainly didn’t choose some of those things. I wish some of those things hadn’t happened. The journey has not taken me where I thought it would, not even where I wanted to go, but it has brought me here. And it is still going.

I remember an old conversation where one person was encouraging the other to go back to school. The other said it would take four years to get a degree. “Do you know how old I will be in four years?” The first person responded: “How old will you be in four years if you don’t go back to school?”

Learning the truth, seeing the light, is good no matter how long it takes. You have accomplished so much more than most people. You have looked at your circumstances and have made a decision. Maybe you decided to make some drastic changes. Maybe you decided to stay in those circumstances with the new understanding you have. Whatever you decided, you did it. You made the decision. That alone says you are free.

We often hear of people who were imprisoned for a crime they didn’t commit. When the real perpetrator is discovered, the innocent person is set free. Sometimes they get a settlement for the time they wrongly spent in prison. I suppose some are angry, perhaps bitter, for the wasted time. But I am always impressed by those who say they are just grateful that the truth was finally discovered. Those are the ones who will continue their lives. Those are the winners.

I put many years of service into an organization, sacrificing time and energy, only to find that the organization cared little about me. They took the contribution I gave, then wrote me off. I have been through my anger, even with hints of bitterness, but the truth is that I grew and learned during those years. Yes, I was hurt. Yes, at times I wonder if the sacrifice was worthwhile. I can still feel the anger, if I want. (They still send me requests for money.) But I have moved on.

Whatever I went through was nothing compared to the pain some of you have felt in the years of marriage and family struggles. Your injuries are deep and the scars severe. But you are moving on. You have become free, either in or out of the relationship. I am humbled by your strength and determination. You have seen the light.

It’s always surprising how senseless regret can be. It’s not like you can go back to change anything. Nor should you regret what others have done to you. You didn’t do those things. You might mourn the losses you have experienced. You might grieve over what might have been. But those feelings eventually lessen and go away. Grief is a process of finding yourself after loss. It may take time, but it does happen. Keep moving on.

Regret is telling yourself that you should not have done certain things. Even if you are partially responsible for the troubles you have suffered, so what? You can’t undo them. Forgive yourself and find the way to health and better decisions. There is no reason to punish yourself, and you are not given the freedom to punish anyone else. Regret is a way of bringing up uncomfortable things of the past and feeling bad about them over and over. It is a form of self-punishment. Move on.

Are there things you wish hadn’t happened? Of course. Some of them were serious. Some hurt others. Most hurt you. But now you see the truth. Now the truth has set you free. So give yourself permission to move on.

Do you need permission from someone else? I hereby give you permission, in the name of the Lord, to move forward with your life. I am not going to tell you what that should look like, what you should do with your life. Let the Lord lead you. I simply say that you can move on.

Maybe it comes back again to the old Serenity Prayer:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, 
The courage to change the things I can, 
And wisdom to know the difference. 

And let me add one more line:

And the strength to move on with my life, leaving the regrets behind.


Filed under Narcissism

17 responses to “Seeing the Light

  1. charlene kevin

    Wow, very timely article. Seeing the light was actually the “aha” moment where I can literally see what was going on in front of me as it was happening! I think regret, wish-fullness, and not giving oneself permission to move on keeps one stuck. I am so thankful that I am not stuck in confusion and self doubt. I am already stronger and not afraid of my bully. I see my next step is to not worry about if others are being fooled. God has got that too!
    Thank you for your Friday’s Grace For My Heart posts.

  2. grace551

    Thank you, Pastor Dave. I love Grace for my Heart.

  3. TL

    As usual, very well said Pastor Dave! It’s not about what happens in our lives, but how we respond, and grow in Christ through those experiences. Thank you so much for giving of yourself, to play a part in our healing. God bless you and your loved ones.


    Pastor Dave, the pain and shock of hearing the word “narcissist” was nearly as hard as the adultery and verbal abuse. Your thoughts today are exactly what I’m struggling with! Why didn’t I see the warning signs? Was it wasted time before it all fell apart? Thank you for truly giving grace to my heart; so badly needed. From K.

    • Lynn

      K: I get it. I chose to stay married for nearly 25 years to a man who abused me (mainly emotional and verbal abuse) and then had an affair with my best friend. That slayed me; ripped my heart into a million pieces. I want to encourage you. Pastor Dave’s writings are so healing and insightful. They give words to our experience. God is a healer. I’d highly recommend the book “Moving On: Dump Your Relationship Baggage and Make Room for the Love of Your Life” Aug 25, 2006 by Russell Friedman and John W. James. This book helped me process my years with my ex-husband and move on, along with counseling, learning to feel again (my emotions had gone numb), forgive (this was a many year, layer upon layer process of forgiveness), and find myself again and love/like myself. I am free. You will be too. Hang in there. Sending a hug. Lynn

  5. Rebecca

    Thank you Pastor Dave! It took 40 years, but I’m thankful I have the rest of my life to live in the truth of what was really going on. Thankful that even though I might not have realized it then, God graciously protected me from much worse. Thankful that I learned during those painful years to turn to God for clarity and direction. Regrets? No, none. I trust that God was directing my steps through dark and light days.

  6. Anne

    Thanks you, Pastor Dave, for your insightful and moving words.

    I, too, like Rebecca, was one who took over 40 years to figure out what was wrong with my marriage. Those last few years were a gradual awakening as I took a hard look at the dynamics of our relationship and began the research that led me to narcissism. I have been divorced for just over a year and am still in therapy but doing so much better.

    As I look back at my life I remember the good times, the happy times with our children and know that most of it was good. And I pray for the soul of my ex-husband who still cannot admit that he’s gay and is still lying about everything. How can he ever be happy? He used to roll his eyes when I exclaimed at the beautiful fall trees and I would feel diminished, as if there was something wrong with me for being so moved by such things. Yet, now it is fall again and I can revel in its beauty without being criticized. Thank God.

  7. Debbie

    I can’t believe I got this post today… 10 days ago I told my narcissist husband of 38 years that I want him to move out and have a 5-month trial separation. I have thought about this thousands of times over the years and even left him a few times. But this time, in those 10 days since, we have already got him an apartment, set up the utilities, and I have planned our finances so we can afford it. We are not giving up on reconciliation, but I truly am not sure I ever want to live with him again, even if we can stay friends. I am exhausted. He is a screamer, and even though I had a heart attack a year and a half ago at age 59, he still periodically goes off on me with no warning, and usually for no good reason. This time my blood pressure went up over 200. So I finally said, I’m not ready to die of another heart attack, so I want you to leave. And he agreed, although he’s hoping to come back. We’ll see. He is a Christian.. But that doesn’t change his violent temper. So is he really a Christian? I don’t know. That’s between him and God. So his test is to try to make me believe that he can change and will change, and show it. He has improved over the years, but then… there’s still that temper. Well, I just wanted to tell you what a GREAT encouragement this was to me today. Wow! Did you write this just for me?

    Thank you Debbie

    Sent from my iPad


    • Debbie, I took the liberty to remove some of your identifying information. I usually do this when I see it in a comment to try to offer a little protection. If you would like it back in, I can restore it. And, yes, this was written just for you! (But what your heart received was from the Lord, not from me.) 🙂 Blessings, Dave

  8. Lynn Sonia

    I faithfully read your weekly Friday writings. Your writings have helped me understand the ex-husband I was with for nearly 25 years. He is a textbook narcissist. Everything you write resonates with my experience. I now have words to put to my experience because of you. Today’s writing is SO right on. I have moved on. Just this morning I told a friend that even though I suffered greatly in a dysfunctional, abusive marriage for years, I have understanding, knowledge and experience that I use when I work with people in an inner healing ministry at my church. I GET it – oh, so deeply GET it. I have processed the LAYERS of my onion of hurt and pain. It’s taken me years but I am now free. I thank the Lord for this freedom and, ironically, my past. Not that I’d wish it on anyone or want to go back to repeat it but because in God’s hands, my past is redeemed and now I am helping others become free and whole. Beauty has come from the ashes of my life. THANK YOU for these writings. Blessings to you.

  9. Katharine

    Brilliant! I so enjoy your messages so please don’t ever take me off your mailing list. You are a true blessing to many of us. God’s richest blessings to you.

  10. Savedbygrace

    Do you need permission from someone else? I hereby give you permission, in the name of the Lord, to move forward with your life.

    Dave thankyou for understanding that some times a person who has been a victim and not had a voice for so long can need another to give their blessing on their lives and their actions- especially a pastor, when sometimes their has been little solace or support from Christian leaders, -thankyou for gifting us with that. It is precious.

  11. I especially like your paragraph on regret and forgiving oneself. Jesus took care of all of it, thank The Lord!

  12. Quoting Dave: “But I am always impressed by those who say they are just grateful that the truth was finally discovered. Those are the ones who will continue their lives. Those are the winners.”
    I have found myself repeating that very thought for many years. After 38 yrs of a relationship deemed so by a marriage certificate we have come to a point of living here but separately. No talking for almost four years and the adult children condone this. They have become manipulators in a polite fashion for the public eye just like their father and relatives; including my siblings.
    There were years of desiring sound Biblical counsel only to discover wolves in sheep’s clothing and then questionable secular counsel – all in the attempts to see if I was wrong or what do you do in a situation as mine?
    I have discovered a select remnant who ‘get it’ … who fear God and His Word and have allowed me to realize that all I can stand on is my integrity before a very holy and awesome God. He has been a witness to my whole life and those involved.
    My prayer is to please Him in whatever circumstance He allows. I seek wisdom as the enemy of our souls is so very cunning. May the Lord protect those who stand in truth before Him.

  13. Reblogged this on A Blog About Healing From PTSD and commented:
    This “Narcissist Friday” post by Pastor Dave Orrison contains some powerful truth on the futility of regrets.

    Comments are closed here, please visit the original blog. Thank you for stopping by and God bless. ❤

  14. SAM

    Thank you so much for this encouraging message today–a delight to read and ponder. Thank you, dear Jesus, for our friend and counselor, pastor Dave, who shares with such wisdom and clarity Your words of truth to us.

  15. Reblogged this on Marie Abanga's Blog and commented:
    It took me 37 years but I have no regrets. I am glad I have finally seen the light, Amen

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