Don’t tell me that you know me better than I know myself. Don’t tell me, when I say I’m sad, that I’m not. Don’t say, “Listen to me. Not yourself. Not her (my friend). Listen to ME.” Especially when I just met you tonight at open mic because we sat at the same table in the back. You seemed sweet and well-meaning until I made the mistake of telling you I was a widow, and then you got aggressively directive. Don’t compare your life experience to mine and think you understand my pain, even if you’re a widow, which you aren’t. At first, I gently said that I know myself. I am sad but healthy nonetheless. You ignored me, insisted you knew better, interrupted my pleasure in the music, jangled my nerves. I turned my back, shuddered with distaste, and you interpreted my body language. “Why did you draw back?” you pressed. “I’m watching the music,” I lied. The truth was my anger was rising, volcanic, and I was afraid I might get violent for the first time, if I didn’t disengage. Your feelings were hurt but you got off lightly. The words behind my lips were harsh and hard-hitting.

Don’t tell me that I need to get a job when my business is about to take off. Don’t tell me I need a safe, secure job when the thought of it makes me feel like being trapped in a room with the walls closing in on me. Don’t color my options and desires with yours. We are not the same. You don’t know better than me the shape my life will take. What I glory in, consulting, speaking, serving may not be for you. And that’s OK. Just don’t tell me I need a life like yours which suits you beautifully and me, not at all. Don’t tell me that what you are afraid of is what I am afraid of. We may fear different dangers. I fear not being alive, even though Dave is gone. I have lost what I loved most in the world. This makes it easy to be fearless and committed to change the world, true since I was six. The Affluence Code and BadWidow, which I created, are my road not traveled. I am on my way. Don’t block the path.

Do me the courtesy of honoring my choices in life as I honor yours. Please.