America, We’ve Been There with Brexit: Here's How to Cope Over the Next Few Days
America: you fucked it. But we have fucked it, too.
Donald Trump and Nigel Farage, the architects of all our pain. (Photo: Gerald Herbert AP / Press Association Images)
Hey, America! Well: you fucked up. "Oh, but you guys, with your Brex—"
Yes, we also fucked up. But we fucked up in a way that only hurts us. Here's an analogy: we're that neighbour of yours who used to live down the road, and your mum always warned you not to knock on our door at Halloween because "he's a very strange man", and we haven't left the house in six years, and when we die – we always die, in this analogy – we die crushed under a pile of newspapers that have been accumulating since 1968. That's us. Weird, but ultimately harmless. A danger only to ourselves. A laughable footnote. You're the neighbour who went all wrong and set fire to his own house and then all the other houses and then shot that car and then sent a nuke at himself. That's you. You fucked up so bad that an analogy doesn't even cover it any more.
Anyway, the point of all this is to offer you soothing words of salvation in this truly terrible time. Because we've done this already this year: we voted ourselves out of the EU for no discernible reason at all and woke up to this same choking, throttling sense of despair, of helplessness and fear, the one you're feeling now. But hey: we're more or less over it now! Sort of! More or less!
Another analogy to stretch taut to breaking point: we are like that wise, slightly older girl, who, despite being cooler than you, is still your friend, and you are going through your first break-up but we've been through loads, and so it is our job – we, remember, are the cool girl; we wear a leather jacket with panache and yet fuck-bois keep doing us over – we are the sisterly friend who comes over and gets you out of bed and combs your hair and fixes you a fake ID so she can take you to a bar and buy you a shot and go girl, he wasn't shit anyway. This is us, and that is you. You are feeling dread and we have survived that. We are here to get you over this. And you will get over this. The world – the world not so much. We have just done irreparable damage to the world. But you will get over this. So sit up.
THE SEVEN STAGES OF GRIEF, AND HOW YOU WILL EXPERIENCE THEM NOW, IN THE AFTERMATH OF THE MOST VITAL INCIDENCE OF WIDESPREAD LUNACY AND DERANGEMENT SINCE THE LAST ONE, I.E. THE ONE WE DID, TO OURSELVES, I.E. BREXIT.
SHOCK AND DENIAL
You've already gone through the denial bit of this – it was when you woke up on the sofa this morning, the TV still on, and saw the banner headline, white on red, "DONALD TRUMP ELECTED US PRESIDENT", and blinked twice and called softly to your housemate to confirm that, hold on, seriously, is this actually real? Am I reading this right or is this a fun joke?
But the shock is going to take you out for a day, maybe two. The shock is like— well, have you ever seen a bad thing? A car accident, or something? I saw a dead body in the aftermath of a car accident once – so still – and I was just a bit off all day. I was a bit like, "Huh: guess we're all just meat" about things. I just sort of realised everything we are can be snatched away from us in an instant – one errant lorry and we're gone – and essentially I wasn't too usable or viable a human being for a good 24 hours afterwards. Only now, that is everyone on earth, apart from the 58 million people who voted for Trump yesterday. But everyone else. That's the shock you're feeling.
PAIN AND GUILT
You're going to feel guilty because you assumed your side would win, and you're going to feel pain because they didn't, and these two emotions are going to blend into a compound feeling I like to call "guh-pain". This, too, will pass. Thankfully, we have Twitter now, so a good way to assuage yourself of guilt and pain is to go on there and blame literally everyone but yourself for what happened, and start conspiracy theories about how this is actually [insert straw man of your choice]'s fault. Look, try it. I'll try it:
I don't know how but this feels like it's Taylor Swift's fault
It feels better, right! Try it!
ANGER AND BARGAINING
Listen: you're going to want to start an e-petition. I know. I know this hurts to hear. Nobody wants to hear this about themselves. But you're not in your right mind. You're going to think this is a good idea. You're going to think this can change things. You're going to forget this can't change things. "But, surely, 100,000 signatur—" No. This is futile. Stop this. This is the bargaining stage, and it is embarrassing.
(The anger stage, by the way, will manifest itself with you texting the uncle you know voted for the thing you dislike – Trump, Brexit – and deliberately starting a fight with him. Know that you are doing this with both Thanksgiving and Christmas on the horizon and he is going to be there, in his big red cap, making it awkward for you if you do. Still do it, though. You have to hold dickheads to account, especially if their blood pumps with your own.)
DEPRESSION, REFLECTION, LONELINESS
In my experience, this manifests itself as you going straight home after an unbearable day at work to make a big spaghetti bolognese and just yell. No advice.
THE UPWARD TURN
This doesn't exist. There isn't an "upward turn", as in one of those neat, TV-friendly moments. There is no moment where you are hiking, alone up a hill, in the early dappled light of the morning, and as you crest the hill you come to a view of a perfect vista illuminated in orange glory by the rising sun, and you breathe a deep chest full of air in and then out, healthful, wholesome, and smile widely with your teeth, and go ah, and say, I'm over it. I've moved on. I forgot about The Bad Thing. No. That doesn't happen. Basically, the agony is just slowly ameliorated by distance, and that is all you can hope to hope for.
RECONSTRUCTION AND WORKING THROUGH
ACCEPTANCE AND HOPE
We had a good bit last week where we thought three judges had blocked Brexit, but then we realised they haven't a hope of Actually Blocking Brexit, so this is also a no.
OTHER THINGS THAT ARE GOING TO HAPPEN NOW, IN OUR EXPERIENCE:
– Overt in-the-streets racial harassment will be even more OK than it currently is!
– POC will suffer!
– Women will suffer!
– The poor will suffer!
– LGBTQ people will suffer!
– Wealthy, entitled white guys will more or less be alright still!
– Your money is worthless!
– That cloying sense of a dread that we are all going to die – that the motions have put in place for us all to eventually die, sooner than expected and more violently – will not go away!
– This rage will dissipate into the same old left-versus-right online discourse that ultimately achieves nothing!
Listen, I'm sorry. I was supposed to make it better but I can't. We fucked up and you fucked up too. We – humanity – keep fucking up. Fuck ups, as far as the eye can see. If we could farm fuck ups for energy, then we could power this planet for the next 100,000 years, based on yesterday alone. But we can't. The only thing we can do in the midst of a fuck up is endure it.
I found myself actively trying to be nicer post-Brexit. It felt necessary. Don't litter, hold doors for people, be considerate on public transport. Tiny kindnesses for a greater whole. I am, I admit, essentially useless. But it feels like in 2016 – The Year of the Fuck Up – being slightly more decent to each other is, at least, a start. That's all I can tell you, America. You're right to feel pain. You're right to feel mad. You're right to feel despair. We did it too and it's not got better yet. This is the only advice I have: try to do something – anything – to make the world feel less bad. Because it is all fucked up. Never has it been more so.
Here are some fun links rather than political links, because We All Need A Laugh Now Don't We:
- us election
- president trump
- Vice Blog
- coping strategies
- hold on there buddy
- hold on did
- hold on did you just
- just to clarify
- my coping strategy for the fact that Donald Actual Trump is US president is 'maybe don't litter'
- I'm locking that answer in
- fucking hell
- I deserve the comments section that's going to spin off from this one