My girl Kysha recently said to me "I've always admired that you won't not ask a question because you're afraid of the answer." I deeply appreciated the recognition. I don't believe in being motivated by fear, unless it's truly keeping you safe from harm, like not going into the bear cave even though you want to see the cubs.
I have a girlfriend who's exceptional in every way: brilliant, beautiful, kind, loyal, a great cook, independent, superb career, and more. In other words, she's a fucking catch and a dream wife and mother. Definitely a member of the Baddest Bitches in the Room club. If I were a single man, I'd be trying to swoop, believe me. But I'm not (praise Jesus) and we're just extremely close friends. She's in her mid 30s and it was critical to her that she have children.
She fell in love with a man and when I asked if she'd asked him if he wanted to have kids she said he knew. How? They had talked about kids' names, he had heard her talk about how important it was, etc. But that's not the same thing as looking him in the eye and straight up saying "Do you want to have kids with me?" And she was on a clock. I found it surprising that someone who is as intellectually probing and intrepid in every other arena of her life, would shy from this question because she was afraid that he would say no.
It's not that I don't understand that fear. The last time I fell in love was the most insecure I've ever felt in a relationship. With my first two loves it was clear as day. I literally knew the day we met that we would to be together. With this one, though, it was a slower start. I had spent years after my marriage avoiding commitment, even walking away from men I liked too much because I didn't want to get attached. But he was different and I was finally open to the possibility of love again.
As I started to develop strong feelings, I got scared but didn't want to jet. I wanted to explore being with him. He was handsome, stylish, and worked part time in nightlife where he was surrounded by drunk flirtatious women. Easy pussy. But as shook as I was, I had to know. I don't remember ever being this afraid to ask a question. It took a little time and a lot of nerve and I don't drink so there were no stiff shots of liquid courage.
We were in bed and I didn't even have the courage to look at him. I asked "Are you seeing anyone else?" And the second that it took him to answer felt like an eternity. When he said no I was the happiest girl in the world--cloud fucking nine. I said "Good, because if you were, I'd be out. I like you too much and couldn't bear to share you with anyone else." We ended up falling deeply in love and he was the best I've ever had.
I try to practice this in all aspects of my life, with my colleagues, my bosses, my friends. The only way we can grow is by being honest with ourselves and we often need help seeing that truth. It's not easy, but for me, the purgatory of ignorance is the inferno.