Kim Vodicka on reckoning with darkness
How have you used writing as a healing or trauma recovery tool? How does it give you autonomy and self-understanding?
I think trauma always wants to consume us and lead us to some very dark places in our real lives, which is why it’s so important to confront it and reckon with it in our creative lives. If pain and grief and bad thoughts and ugly feelings have no place to go, they manifest in destructive ways that risk hurting others and ourselves, and badly. I don’t think it’s possible for art to be destructive, at least not in anywhere remotely close to the same way as real-life destruction, which is why all of our most fucked up thoughts and feelings belong in it. And I mean all of them.
I recently heard someone say that trauma is elastic…like a rubber band that you can stretch and expand almost to the point of breaking but eventually snaps back to its original position. I do think it’s possible to break the rubber band, which is what I try to do in my work...stretching fear and anger and anxiety and sadness to the limit, beyond the limit, in an effort to break through. It makes me feel empowered, whether or not the pursuit is futile.
Do you integrate writing into your ritual/spiritual/magical life?
For me, it’s sort of the opposite…like integrating spirituality into my writing life. I view the act of writing as ritualistic in itself and don’t really include a lot of bells and whistles. I might use mantras and affirmations to get in the right headspace or do rituals for anything I may particularly need in the moment (i.e. strength, stamina, creativity, etc.)
I also tend to hold certain tarot cards in mind for extended periods of time, especially when they have an energy I am lacking. Lately, I’ve been keeping images of The Emperor around me (and gemstones/oils that correspond to him, like red jasper, carnelian, and rosemary) because he has this really authoritative and self-assured and fearless energy that is very much the opposite of me in my natural state. He seems to help me find balance and feel more confident in all areas of life but, yes, particularly in writing/creativity.
If we put three writers or books into a circle to summon you, who/what would they be?
Anais Nin, Gertrude Stein, and Kathy Acker
Is there a single piece/book of writing that has helped to heal you? How has it helped?
The Pisces by Melissa Broder. Reading it helped me diagnose myself with love addiction and prompted me to basically invent my own recovery path, since love addiction counselors are not exactly a dime a dozen, which involves learning to find fulfillment, validation, and purpose outside of romantic partnerships. I get the impression that a lot of people struggle with love and intimacy addictions…it’s kind of this surprisingly pervasive yet under-recognized thing that can lead to serious danger, even death, like so many other addictions.
For me, love is a crack rock. Writing or at least attempting to give voice to my personal struggle with this has felt hugely beneficial and transformative. The book I’ve been working on most of this year, which includes the seven of cups piece here, explores some of the darkest possible sides of it—specifically, how love addiction, which has roots in codependency, low self esteem, and trauma, might cause the love addict to fall in love with Ted Bundy, or someone like him.
Love addiction has this insidious way of making bad people, sometimes actually evil, seem attractive and desirable. My healing process has been dark and messy and is still very much in progress and honestly may never end. The writing reflects all of that but hopefully in a way that is illuminating and gives voice to victims and puts power into the right hands.
FOLLOW KIM VODICKA.