How Much is that Man in the Window? Bargaining (Grief Stage 3)

“Guilt is often bargaining’s companion.” -Elizabeth Kubler-Ross & David Kessler from On Grief and Grieving

After calming down from the anger over my singleness, I want to take some kind of action. I want some control back! Well, wanting control back would make the assumption that I ever really had “control” over this single thing in the first place.

But actually, the bargaining stage of grief is where I want to fight against having no control over the external. In death losses, it is where most people bargain with God to have their loved one back. It is where the if only, shoulda, woulda, coulda statements begin to surface. Guilt is prevalent in this stage. In non-death losses, this is where we usually begin to obsess over the different choices we could have made to make the outcome more desirable.

But I have found that the bargaining stage in my grief over being single is where my inadequacy wounds rear their ugly little heads. (For those who read my last essay, it’s where Gazoo is the most loudest). I start to tell myself the following…

I am single because there is inherently something wrong with me…

I am single because there is something grossly unattractive about me…

So of course if statements like these are true, I need to somehow change myself to not be who I am. Because the reason that I am single is because who I am is not good enough.

If I were prettier, taller, thinner, more eccentric, had better credit, more accomplishments, richer, lived in a different neighborhood, had money, came from a different family, didn’t live with my mom, didn’t work a 12-step program or had less emotional issues, perhaps, maybe, possibly…I wouldn’t be single.

I am bargaining with God for me to be someone I’m not…for me to be someone else, and this in turn will bring me a mate.


The bargaining stage of grief is very active; however, it can be sneaky. Most of the time, I don’t even know I’m bargaining until I’m sitting around wishing that there was something about me that was different.

Or, I start comparing or downgrading my own value or belief that I am a good catch. As Melody Beattie puts it:

“The magic is in others, not us, we believe. The good feelings are in them, not us. The less good stuff we find in ourselves, the more we seek it in others. They have it all; we have nothing. Our existence is not important. We have been abandoned and neglected so often that we also abandon ourselves.” -Codependent No More

At this point of the grieving process, I start to believe that healthy, beautiful relationships are for others, and not for me. I start to believe that true romantic intimacy will forever avoid me.

I stop accepting myself as I am and start thinking that being someone else will bring me an acceptable mate.

But as I let myself feel this stuff, as I let all this junk come up and come out, my thinking begins to shift. And I say to myself,

Why should I ever have to sacrifice (bargain) my authenticity in return for any kind of human connection?

Why would I even want to?

I really do like who I Am. Who I Am is no longer for sale.

About Michele

Writer, musician, researcher, liberal, public servant, animal lover, Christian, 12 stepper, White Sox and GH fan.

Posted on July 22, 2012, in Thoughts & Reflections and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I myself am lonely at present but in my pep talks to myself I say, “Love will find you. Be yourself, be happy.” It is lonelier to feel alone with someone than to be alone, that I know, so at least relish being able to do what you want, when you want. Eat what you want, when you want. Listen to the music you like. Go to movies. Volunteer. Probably you do all those things. Be good to yourself.
    You are special and wonderful! ~ Lily

  1. Pingback: Loving Me Sadly – Depression (Grief Stage 4) | Words of Compassion, Creativity, & Knowledge

  2. Pingback: Accept that LOVE is Enough – Acceptance (Grief Stage 5) | Words of Compassion, Creativity, & Knowledge

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