Van Gogh’s time in the asylum started with much hope and optimism. He was 36 and spent his life indirectly fighting insanity. Now, he was facing his specter head-on. He wrote to his brother Theo – “I well knew that one could break one’s arms and legs before, and that then afterwards that could get better but I didn’t know that one could break one’s brain and that afterwards that got better too.“
This was the story of my life with my ex. I was always looking for some way the insanity could end. Usually, even during the darkest fights, I felt a glimmer of hope. In that mania, the madness was at the surface, and maybe we could solve it. While I believe mental illness can be treated, I would recommend a different course of action when you find yourself in love with a narcissist. Run fast. Run far. And, when you’re safe, stay safe until you heal that part of yourself that chose that relationship in the first place.
When you find yourself in a trauma loop, notice how your attention narrows — practice horizon gazing to expand your perception beyond the narrow flight or flight. I recognized this coping technique in Van Gogh’s works from the asylum. His painting of cypress trees and wheat fields stretched out to the horizon. However, it was Starry Night that transcended the horizon and reached the infinite. That canvas brings you into the world of night, stars, and dreams.