“Are you sure?” is a far from innocent question.
“Are you sure” is a coward’s cocktail of two parts deterrent and one part accusation.
It contributes to our life-long indoctrination intoxication that we cannot trust our own senses and judgement. Our own perceptions denounced, speaking our experience makes us liars, and as we grow our night-lights become gaslights in so much that we get vertigo just by standing up for ourselves.
“Are you sure” enforces the caution that it is paramount we are not speaking before thinking–it assumes your feelings are baseless, it reinforces the mythology that you haven’t given this any thought at all. When in truth it is the only thing that has occupied your thoughts both waking and dreaming. It lingers on you, cropping up at the most innocuous moments, those sleepy and content breaths where you thought you were safe.
We have trouble breathing, choking on the specter of thought that has been haunting us since the inception of realization of our reality.
“Are you sure?”
As if you weren’t so bursting that there were room for doubt within you.
And when you try call them out, they defend “I’m just checking!”
As if that can even pass as some form of repentance. But they never dare to finish the sentence.
“I’m just checking…”
I’m just checking you’re not a liar.
I’m just checking you’re sincere.
I’m just checking you’ve thought this through, because some part of me that I won’t admit to does not believe you.
“Are you sure” is more suggestion than question.
And it speaks volumes about what they never say aloud.
“Are you sure you didn’t provoke him?”
“Are you sure your skirt wasn’t too short?”
“Are you sure this isn’t a phase you’ll grow out of?”
“Are you sure” is both intimidation and invalidation.
It makes you question your sanity and believe, if even for a second, that speaking up isn’t worth the consequence.
Of course, I’m sure.
Please believe me.