I Woke Up In This World

I’ve woken up with this pain before–the heavy ache in every muscle from carrying around a racing mind, a broken heart, and all on no sleep. I know this feeling.


I felt this way the day after my first husband came home with lipstick on his collar. I felt this way the morning after we found out Richard had leukemia. I felt this way in 2000, when no one knew who the president was, even the next morning or the day after that. I felt this way on 9/12/01, stumbling through that day wondering what would come next. And today I woke up feeling this way again–this tired, this heartbroken, this confused. This surprised.

I always feel this way when I wake up to the reality that I am not living in the world I thought I had been. Where nothing adds up. Where being smart and working hard don’t lead to the job. Where being faithful and keeping your vows doesn’t matter anymore. Where facts don’t matter.

These aren’t the sleepless nights of tending to an infant or hot flashes or worrying about bills. This is the groggy feeling of being afraid to sleep because you never saw it coming. Think back to the last time the veil was ripped away, where the truth turned your world on its head.

I woke up in that world today. Shocked.

When I took Carlos to school, the teachers–all women of color–didn’t looked shocked. They looked tired and sad and angry, but not surprised. My darling friend, who just married his husband on the 20th anniversary of their first date, had encouraging and inspiring words to share about getting up and getting back to work. He was disappointed this morning, but not surprised. A college sister who wears the hijab was petrified to leave her home…but not surprised. Another friend wondered if she would be able to adopt her own children now, but she worked through her terror in that “been there done that” way of people who have had to fight for every step.

Clutching my pearls.

Clutching my pearls.

Only the white women were shocked. Surprised. Clutching our pearls. Aghast.

That’s when I realized–I woke up in their world. That teacher can’t walk to the grocery store without being called a n*gger bitch. I hear her. That man can’t kiss his husband on the sidewalk after a movie because they could be beaten, even though they pay their taxes and follow the laws, like good citizens do. My college sister knows that every time she wears her headscarf to graduate school, someone’s going to say something. I hear her. Their lives are up for comment and debate and remarks. Every day.

On Tuesday, I was so delighted with the high spirits of celebration, the GLADNESS and pride I felt in my candidate. I was running errands with the kids and decided to wear my Hillary hat and sticker. As vocal as I am on social media, in person, and with my yard signs, I hadn’t marked myself as “With Her” with clothing before. Within 15 minutes, I was literally shaking with fear from the snarling looks I got from angry white men. I’m sure they would have said things to me if I hadn’t had my children. For an instant, I thought, “This is what it feels like to be a minority–having to walk through a miasma of anger to get a sandwich.”

In the next instant, I realized how trivial and stupid it was to compare my brief experience to the experiences of those who live as Other in their own country. After all, I can take off my hat and slip right back into the invisibility of white womanhood.

My whiteness gives me the power to blend in when I don’t want to be bothered while also giving me the power to be noticed when I want to be seen or heard on issues. I can shift between visibility and invisibility as it serves me best.

I saw an explanation that said, “If you have never understood privilege consider this: if you don’t feel threatened today, you have it.” I live in many bubbles of privilege: a county that votes like me, a skin that’s white, a family that usually had enough when we needed it, an economic class that enjoys a cushion to weather storms. Even my accent projects that I am an educated Southern woman. I am connected and respected. Sure, I’m a woman in a sexist society–but I’m a white woman. I’m more powerful because of my whiteness in a racist society even as I am less powerful as a woman in a sexist society. In the big picture, it works to my favor and I can decide when to engage in changing these structures.

I cannot imagine how it felt to wake up today without my bubbles of privilege in an America that elected that person to be our First Citizen. To represent us on the world stage. To serve as the face on the coins or the voice of the Union. To know that 58,000,000 of my fellow citizens decided that whatever collateral damage he may wreak will be worth it in exchange for getting whatever it is they need to feel safe again. To “take back” the country from….inclusion? optimism? equal rights? complete sentences?

We all woke up to that America today. Now we have to decide whether to close our eyes again or stay awake.


20 thoughts on “I Woke Up In This World

  1. Nita B

    My 64 year old white republican godmother told me that the world wasn’t as racist as I was making it…so I had no reason to fear. I’m a minority, a female and a survivor of sexual assault, I’m scared shitless. I have never been more terrified than I am at this point. I stayed in bed until Bible Study because I was afraid of the post Trump Valdosta I would walk into.

    1. Baddest Mother Ever Post author

      She’s deep inside the bubble. Bubbles pop eventually. I know it took courage for you to walk out into the world. I’m glad you did.

  2. Mike the Spike

    See? You found your voice tucked away under all that despair after all. And you made something beautifully thought-provoking with it. THAT is getting up, getting out there, and getting The Good Work going again. Good on ya, friend.

    1. Baddest Mother Ever Post author

      Thank you for always being the friend who picks me up gently and says, “Quit worrying about that…look over here. You can do it.” Go kiss your husband and the Wee God of Death!

    1. Baddest Mother Ever Post author

      We all have some power. You use your energy to work for women in your neighborhood. I’m good at words and telling stories and I am committing to use my voice to tell the story of where our country is and where we could be.

  3. cathrynbbennett

    Thank you for being you. Your ability to reflect deeply and at multiple levels is so valuable. Please keep lending your voice to those of us too dumbstruck to be cogent. I draw strength from this.

  4. Alice Brown

    Well, here’s a different view, from the group of white, college educated women, who did NOT vote for HRC, as expected. Please realize the other half of voters are ecstatic that our country is spared an evil, pathological, lying, reckless, imperious President Hillary. In my view, she has actually committed treason, but that will play out in time.

    And btw, Hillary is known to use the “N word” on a regular basis. She was a hollow candidate, with no vision and a lot of baggage. I could write an epistle about that, but will refrain.

    HILLARY is the candidate who was hateful & racist, sexist, xenophobic and has supported anti-environment projects as well.
    For example –
    > She insulted and degraded patriotic Americans
    >She supports & stirred up the racist hate group BLM
    >The rappers she & the Obamas endorse have lyrics that are as bad or worse than anything DJT has ever said.
    > As well, Miley Cyrus & Beyonce’s performances are XXXLewd, yet Hillary & her crowd are not offended.
    > She called Bill’s victims degrading names & set out to destroy them.
    > She protects a sexual predator
    > Her foundation pays women less than men, while Trump pays equally or more.
    > And which candidate entrusted their campaign to be run by a female?
    > The most blatant example of white privilege? Chelsea Clinton!

    The mainstream MEDIA has been exposed as being in collusion with the Clinton Campaign. We knew it all along, but now it’s proven. (Thank you, WikiLeaks.) Please realize they painted, 24/7, a distorted picture of DJT.

    Take the time to hear what he said at his acceptance speech & at his July Convention speech or any one of his rallies in the past month. (YouTube) You may be surprised to see a Trump who will be GREAT for our country.

    1. Baddest Mother Ever Post author

      So in brief, let me explain to you why this kind of ranting reeks of hypocrisy to the other side of the world:
      A hollow candidate with no vision? Even if she were HALF the demon that you make her out to be, she’s managed to control that for 40 years and bend it into the wonkiness of service to country. You compare this to a candidate who for the first time, will enter the Oval Office with zero military experience or public service of any form.Her vision was laid out in both detailed policy plans and in a lifetime of service. What did we have to compare that to? Nothing.
      After a decade long witch hunt that concluded NOTHING she did was against the law, you still see treason but voted for a candidate who was already being manipulated by Russians who are far smarter than he is. You voted for a pawn.
      You think BLM is a racist hate group (which is bullshit), but you don’t mind voting for David Duke’s candidate? The man who incites violence at his own rallies and cannot bring himself to disavow the KKK? Right.
      Rappers lyrics and Miley Cyrus are lewd enough to offend you, so you selected the candidate whose “locker room talk” (sic) is to be excused and whose third wife posed for pornography. That’s her right as a woman and I defend it, but can you see how it’s not really the right time to be talking about lewdness?
      She “protects a sexual predator,” so you voted for the candidate who brags about being a sexual predator.
      “A female” running the campaign? There are “females” who will sell themselves to the highest bidder. She did an admirable job of not gagging on the crap she spewed on his behalf.
      So you are ecstatic to have evangelicals voting for a candidate who has never cracked a Bible over the demon who is a devout Methodist. You have the law and order party voting for a candidate who breaks the law. You have the strict Constitutionalists voting for a candidate who is unfamiliar with the very framework of how our country works. You have the business party voting for a billion dollar loser who is so shady he won’t let anyone look at the books or his taxes.
      And you’re using YouTube as your main source to explain why DEMOCRATS have been sold a distorted picture? You keep telling yourself that.
      Oh, and I have taken the time to hear those TWO speeches. I also heard the other 800. If HRC is going to be held accountable for every email that was produced by her staff, I’m certainly going to hold Trump accountable for every word that comes out of his own mouth.

  5. Jane Prater

    Well said. The blog and the response to Ms. Brown.

    If Trump voters want something new, want to “drain the swamp” and change America, why did they overwhelmingly return their incumbents to Washington? Aren’t these Congressmen the people who have refused to address the economic disparity in our country? The same who have created havoc in our schools by believing they know more than trained educators? The ones who have have driven health care costs horrendously high by giving so much power to insurance lobbyists. And do you remember a time when our young men weren’t at war?

    Before long, Ms. Brown will be wishing there was a President who believes in children and families instead of profits and privilege.

    Meanwhile, we remain scared. Our hard won rights will be taken a bit at a time. The Court will be a mockery of justice. And there is a mushroom cloud hanging over us all.

  6. Alice Brown

    I have written a detailed response, but so far, Ashley has chosen not to include it. It seems opposing opinions are simply not tolerated by the left. She and I will have to agree to disagree, but hope it can be done civilly.

    1. Baddest Mother Ever Post author

      Oh, Alice, you overestimate your ability to cow me. Your “detailed response” was blocked by the spam filter because it contained links to questionable websites. I’ve given your position gracious space on my site but I don’t allow links that can infect the site with spam.

  7. Alice Brown

    Ashley, There were NO LINKS in my first reply to your response to me.

    Please have the decency and integrity to be HONEST and correct your last post immediately and post my initial response to you. I will see your true character through your actions.

    There is no need to behostile. Can’t we agree to disagree and be civil?

    And btw, the links in my second response were to > USA Today, a credible youtube video &
    a twitchy.com, conservative page that has been validated by Forbes.

    1. Baddest Mother Ever Post author

      Yes, it was your second comment that was flagged as spam for links–the first was sent automatically to trash because of excessive length. I’ve reviewed it and I’m choosing not to restore them. Not out of hostility or out of fear of you judging “my true character.” Those three words ALONE are enough for me to disregard you and grant you no further space on my site. Call it whatever you want to call it–I’m not going to let you take the mic and spew lies about Secretary Clinton. You are convinced they are true but to the rest of the world…sounds a touch crazy.

  8. joanne

    I appreciate your thoughtful post and I really appreciate your response to Ms. Brown. I was only half way through reading her screed – and yes, Alice, your comment was a screed of misinformation – and I was already composing my response to her in my head. Thank you, Ashley, for doing it for me, with much more style and aplomb.
    But, it still makes me aghast that college-educated white women voted for an obvious con artist, bigot, misogynist, racist, man child and bought into all the bullshit that has been thrown at HRC for 30 years. I don’t care if anyone has a sheepskin or not, but as voters it is incumbent on us to do the research, become knowledgeable of the facts, as well as the candidates’ positions (or lack thereof), and not rely on Fox News, or similar leaning sources, for all your information.
    I was incredulous, angry and sad when I heard people I have known for years start raging with the ‘Hillary is the demon’ propaganda last year. I am now estranged from two friends I have known for sixty years, one being my college roommate (her husband wouldn’t quit sending me vile anti-HRC pulp fiction). Neither one has a daughter, or I don’t see how they could look themselves in the mirror each day. I just know I’m not at the point where I can talk to them. I hope I’ll soon come out of this miserable despair which has overwhelmed me and rendered me inert.
    I now have five beautiful little grand-nieces that I adore and was, before Tuesday, so optimistic about their futures. I still am hopeful for them, and know that they will have a good life because of their great mothers and enlightened fathers. But how do we explain to them later why their country chose such a polarizing figure to forge into this new millennia? A man who doesn’t even know how to use e-mail. It is unexplainable, and let’s hope not unforgivable.

  9. Alice Brown

    Hi Ashley – just left a message on your FB page; if you are like me, you may not see it for a while, so sending a note here. 🙂 Even though I can be prickly at times, I’m a peace-maker at heart… just reaching out one more time…

    1. WordPress.com Support

      Not to worry, Alice! Continue to make peace and keep an eye on your government. That’s what I plan to do!


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