"Oh-oh, here she comes...Watch out boy she'll chew you up
Oh-oh, here she comes...she's a maneater" **
A few years ago, I received a letter which stated in part:
"Why do your girlfriends see you as "competition" [since becoming widowed]; as though I would think to lower myself [in such a way]. It hurts me terribly."
When I receive mail like this from those who have already been through so much pain, I really just want to gather these woefully insecure, misinformed, jealous, pathetic women who look at the widowed as "competition", lock them into a room with me and explain the facts of life. Why do people think that simply because we are widowed, we are all of a sudden lurking in the shadows and hiding in the bushes and skulking about in dark alleys; ready and waiting to pounce on the "innocent and unsuspecting" husbands and boyfriends of other women?
We can lump people like these in alongside family members who want to know what our beloveds left to them in the Will -- and they ask this question at the funeral service. Exactly where does common sense go? I wish I could answer that question intelligently; however, the fact is that it is difficult to respond intelligently to that which is based in utter stupidity.
Like most married couples, my late husband Mike and I too had many "couple friends", with whom we would frequently socialize. Whether it was dinners, parties or other social get-togethers of any and all manner, we were a happy collective of Mr. & Mrs. Two-by-Twos. Never in a million years did it dawn on me that once my "couple" status tragically changed to "widowed", I would be viewed by some as a threat...a menacing, cold and calculating "maneater".
I recall my first "maneater" experience with the wife-half of one of our formerly-friendly "couple friends" shortly after Mike's death. Though admittedly not one of my closest friends, this woman (a highly-educated professional), was nevertheless cheerfully affable and genial prior to Mike's illness and concerned and supportive throughout Mike's illness.
Until the night that he closed his eyes for the last time.
Immediately after Mike's passing, the demeanor of this once warm and welcoming woman flipped 180 degrees. I remember being so confused at her cold, distant, barely-civil acknowledgment when we would run into one another -- try explaining that to a young child who was once greeted with hugs. Bewildered, I asked another mutual friend about this woman's behavior; to which she replied, "You don't know? She thinks you'll go after [her husband] now that Mike is gone".
I was stunned.
Further and as with most widowed lessons learned along my Healing Journey, I quickly discovered that I was far from alone in my "maneater" experience. On the contrary and sadly (or disgustingly), there are many widowed who have been treated in this manner by female halves of former "couple friends".
We all know that there are women who are incredibly insecure and will always see other women as "competition" in one respect or another; be it because of appearance, career achievement, social status, financial status -- or their unfortunate widowed marital status. Now, factor in that these women may also believe you to be the "poor helpless widow" who all men everywhere are going to pity and rush to "rescue"...like we would intentionally play some kind of "widow card" to get male attention.
Allow me to offer the world a bit of reassurance. While I am sure that there are a few exceptions out there somewhere, not one of the many thousands of widowed with whom I have spoken, emailed, coached or otherwise come into contact, have ever intentionally set their sights upon and/or gone after another woman's husband, boyfriend or significant other...if for no other reason that most widowed simply are not interested in those who are unavailable. Has this kind of behavior happened at least once since the dawn of mankind? I am sure that it has -- there are exceptions to every rule, situation or scenario accepted as commonplace and this is no different. However, is this behavior the norm within the widowed community? Absolutely, positively, no-doubt-about-it...NO.
If you have had a "maneater" experience -- you either have been or are being treated as though you are waiting around corners with a man-sized butterfly net, waiting to snatch someone's "property" -- please know that these "little girls" who now see both you and your widowed status as competition are just that... pathetic little girls who are not worthy of you or the privilege of your company. Rather than treat you with kindness and compassion or at the very least, view you with respect as the model of perseverance that you are, they instead prefer to see you as some sort of threat.
Remember what I said earlier... you cannot respond intelligently to that which is based in complete stupidity. In other words, you likely will not be able to change the mind of a person who would view you in such a warped fashion -- so leave their warped point of view to themselves and move forward. Get yourself around other absolutely amazing friends from both within and outside the widowed community, who will see you -- and love you -- for the fantastic person you are.
** "Maneater" by Daryl Hall and John Oates; written by Sara Allen, Daryl Hall and John Oates; RCA Records, 1982
Carole's latest book, "Happily Even After..." is the winner of the prestigious Books for a Better Life Award. For more information about Carole Brody Fleet and Widows Wear Stilettos, please visit www.widowswearstilettos.com and www.carolefleetspeaker.com
Watch for Carole's third book coming in 2015.
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