Since June 2016, I have marched down the streets of London four times, Cambridge twice and Ipswich once. I’ve attended countless rallies and delivered thousands of leaflets. All in the hope of bringing an end to this lunacy called Brexit. Over the past three and a half years I have shifted in my goals from fighting to overturn the freak election results of the referendum to accepting defeat following the last general election to where I am today with a new goal – I’m trying to stifle the feeling of ungroundedness and the anxiety that eventually comes with it.
Leaving the EU is stripping me of my EU citizenship and that seems remarkably unfair. The rug that has been pulled out from under me was more like a magic carpet. Now there is only air between me and the ground and I can’t seem to land.
I have to visualise and remind myself that a sense of groundedness exists with my David, his family, our friends and with some of the things I do – writing, jogging, walking and of course meditating. Not to underestimate these attachments and therapeutic activities, but these last few years make me aware that outside of these inner concentric circles, I’m no longer living in a place where I feel I belong. This isn’t the first time. I left the United States in 1984 to live in Scotland, among other practical reasons, as an act of self-imposed political exile against Ronald Reagan and the many – even Democrats – who were prepared to re-elect him. Instead of wondering if the world had gone mad, I turned it on myself and thought there was something wrong with me.
Older, more confident, this time, it’s not me. The cult of pro-Brexitism has brought hate and isolationism to the foreground. Brexit has never really been about leaving the EU, or to ‘gain back control’ as the slogan claimed. In order to justify those sentiments, people had to believe a lot of lies about what the EU does and Britain’s place in it. I’ve toyed with the idea that millions of people were lazy when it came to researching and discovering the truths (it’s in another blog). While laziness might be a factor, I also suspect that those who voted to leave to varying degrees pretended to believe the lies in order to find a cause of, or someone to blame for, their own unhappiness. For some this unhappiness has been economic, for others it festers in feelings that our more tolerant, liberal society has been foisted upon them.
Perhaps this is just a coping strategy – an attempt to get my dangling feet back on the ground – but I will only permit myself to say goodbye to the EU as a British citizen. In a year’s time, this will be enforced by laws and regulations. What the Brexit elite at the helm of this operation cannot take away from me is my Italian heritage, my second home in France, my abilities in romance languages or my spiritual connection to some European countries and their peoples. This time, I won’t flee into self-imposed political exile.