It is, perhaps, no surprise that the people who seem to be managing best out of the at-risk citizens I know are almost all survivors of some sort of sustained abuse—of domestic violence, child abuse, of the historic abuse enacted by grim and sordid definition on marginalized and minority groups, or all three. Some of the most vulnerable people I know are also the best in a crisis, because they kick immediately into survivor mode. One of my most fragile friends has spent the past few days making some of the fiercest political art of her life, another has put together quick, comprehensible reading lists for strategies of resistance, another is fundraising like mad for abortion rights charities and bringing networks together to keep up the momentum. This doesn’t mean they’re grieving any less, nor that those of us still pinned to our beds with panic are poor soldiers in this war to which we find ourselves conscripts. It means that the strategies that will sustain us all in the coming weeks and months are exactly the strategies that have always allowed [people] to survive abuse and intimate terrorism. They are strategies for practical survival that are also emotional armour.
[...] Normalization is psychic armour. But so is resistance. In the coming weeks and months and years we must navigate a course between the exhaustion of perpetual outrage and the numbness of normalization. That means taking care of ourselves and of one another. It means practicing a sort of emotional intelligence that the new power order lacks the capacity to imagine, an emotional intelligence that is all that stands between us and fascism with a cartoon face. It’s also called courage. If standing up to bullies was cost-free, we’d have a different world. If enough of us do it anyway, we can still make one.
-- Laurie Penny, Against Bargaining: On not taking leave of your senses
I noticed that in the immediate aftermath of the election, I was the only one in my circle of internet family and soon-to-be-family who was keeping it together. I went all-out reassuring everyone.
Now I'm trying to reassure myself, without also ignoring the realities of what are going to happen. Having grown up reading books about living through WWII Germany, and the Chinese Cultural Revolution, helped. Maybe having developed defences against an abusive family did too.
Those are all worst-case scenarios, of course. But preparing for those scenarios helped people survive the Holocaust.
Take care of yourselves. Be aggressively good to yourselves, and your vulnerable friends. Be well.
Then stand up to bullies, for me and for every one of their targets.