I’m struggling to find the words right now. Finding out the result of the EU referendum last Friday was like a punch to the guts. I was already reeling in the climate of hate and vicious rhetoric and violent action that had built up over the preceding weeks, and had hoped against hope we would vote for togetherness and stability. That the lies of the leave campaign (which have emerged so clearly since the result was announced) would would be revealed in time. That hatred of the political elite (who, honestly, I can’t stand either) wouldn’t lead people to vote against membership of a union which affords us so much protection in so many areas and in so many ways.
But it happened. Britain voted leave. And I still can’t get my head round it. Despite my usual positive outlook, I’ve been struggling to say ‘never mind, move on, look to the future, think positive’ or any of that. Because the future is so uncertain and the repercussions are already scaring me. The racism that the vote has legitimised, the jeering ‘We won, so get out of our country!’ mentality that is bubbling up all over the place makes my blood run cold. And the leave camp is already going back on pledges like ‘We will give £350 million a week to the NHS’ and major campaign issues like putting an end to free movement of labour (which personally I have no issue with at all) that people based their votes on. Some leave voters are already disillusioned and angry. Many remain voters are distraught. What’s going to happen next? Where’s it going to lead? I worry for all of us, I really do.
Amidst all of this, you know what makes my heart sing? The wonderful, thoughtful, compassionate people that appear left, right and centre in my life. My family and my friends, the people I bump into in the playground, or at soft play parties or in muddy fields (well, I do live in rural Northumberland). The people who fill my social media feeds with understanding and love. All of them. All of you. That’s what gives me hope.
I said today on Facebook that I was stepping back from it for a bit – just to give myself some space. I am exceedingly lucky that – despite what I’ve heard about the bile that’s been spouted on social media – my personal feed is full of kind, empathetic people. But there’s so much information being shared and so much worry and so much pain – grief even, at this result. And I can’t face it all. I can’t take it all in. I’m like some kind of overused sponge – it’s exhausting me.
So, like I said, I updated my status with a little ‘I’m taking a break but I want you to know you’ve all provided me with so much solace these past few weeks’ kind of thing. And then something lovely started happening – I started getting direct messages and texts from friends. Little “I hope you’re ok’s” and “I know what you mean’s” and “I feel that way too’s”. Wonderful, warm, genuine messages of solidarity and hope. Man, they made me smile. I’d been sending some of my own over the past few weeks but after receiving these ones, I thought I’d up the pace and let more of the people I care about know that I care.
And it’s started to make me feel better. It might not be much, but it feels like something I can actually do. A way of looking to the future with something other than fear. Because it means something, doesn’t it? – to be loving. To be loved.