Hi Hill,

I've been following this thread and reading your struggles, but as I am still learning myself, I didn't feel I had much to say. Last night changed that for me - because I saw something happen in my own situation that surprised me, hurt a hell of a lot, and yet confirmed I was on the right track.

I've been where you are, for quite some time I was too busy balancing the 'hurt books' - placing blame, saying 'maybe I did but you did too', trying to 'fix' my partner so she would stop hurting me - just acting out from the position of my own Taker and butting heads with hers.

Until she finally pulled back completely and went into shutdown. She went into the first signs of Withdrawal.

It seemed like there was no hope - but I found this place, and I found guidance from others as well, and despite myself and my Taker I started putting those pieces of wisdom and guidance into action.

Earlier in this thread it was said 'it always gets worse before it gets better' - I have seen this to be true. My partner spent a few weeks basically withdrawn - she was present, but shut down, she went through the motions, and would occasionally fly into fits of anger over the tiniest things, seemingly completely unreasonable and out of proportion - but I refused to fight or Love Bust. I didn't bother to even count or notice when she employed Love Busters towards me. If we disagreed, or if she got angry with me - I would apologize, explain that I understood her hurt or anger from her perspective, and then explain the mistake from my own, and then I *did not continue discussing or arguing about it* - she would try, and I would continue the same thing "Honey, I am deeply sorry for hurting you, I understand completely how you feel, I would feel the same way in your shoes, I only ask that you accept that it was a mistake and had no malicious intent to it at all."

My Taker didn't like this. To be honest my taker HATED this. Sometimes it was several times a day I had to get up, walk away, and have a little 'shut up and sit down' talk with my Taker. At the same time, my Giver was getting desperate - advising me to say anything, do anything, beg, plead, promise,fall on my sword, give until I broke the bank, whatever it took to love this woman. The Taker would switch sides and sort of encourage this plan in the moment, because hey - then I'd get what I wanted, right? It was a terrible battle, and I had to stop listening to *either* of them and take action from a different place - just as Dr. Harley advised.

And then I watched several hours of Tony Robbins doing relationship interventions - and a common theme came through.

A theme of - if your partner (speaking from the male perspective here) DID come out of withdrawal and back into conflict, if she WAS in a position of allowing she might be willing to let you meet her emotional needs again (even in the tiniest fraction of her heart) - then things were about to get a *whole lot worse* for you right away.

Because she is hurt, scared, angry, and her Taker is in full control - and as Tony Robbins put it - she may *want* to believe, but before now you've given her no *reason* to believe, so she is going to test you. HARD.

In my own situation, when I put out my hand and said 'I love you' - her response was 'I feel like you're ignoring how I really feel, trying to pretend it's not true'.

Me: 'Honey, I am not ignoring how you feel, I see and understand it, and I realize completely how you got there, and what I did to cause it. I love you, and am working and learning to be a better man for you.'

Her: 'Lovely sentiment, but I think you're just saying whatever it takes to get what you want. I've seen this before, you say whatever it takes, and then in a few days or a few weeks it just goes right back, and I'm miserable.'

Me: 'Yes, that has been the pattern of the past, and while I never intended it to be that way, and never wanted you to be unhappy, I realize that was the effect. I am deeply sorry. I love you, and I want to be the man you are more than happy to have and be with. I want to support you and help you have what you truly want."

Her: 'What is I am learning I don't want to have or be with anyone? I am *unhappy* here, being your partner.'

Me: 'Then I will have to support that decision too. I love you, there's no other answer. What you want and need can never be wrong, because it is what you need.'

(and right here - and some of this is paraphrased and shortened for space - my Taker was screaming to run, or fight, or GTFO because OMG there was huge pain looming in those words - but I remembered that Tony Robbins said - the *first* thing she is going to do is test you, hit you hard with all her hurt and anger, to prove you're faking it and are going to revert to your old ways, and the only way to save your relationship is face those tests and survive them with love - prove you're not just talking a good game. But frankly, I was expecting her to say she was leaving)

Her: 'You have no idea how many times I have come *so* close to saying screw it, I'm done. I think you underestimate just *how* upset and unhappy I am about this.'

Me: 'I don't underestimate it at all. I have seen it, I have noticed, and that is what has spurred me to begin making these changes. I love you, I want you to be happy, I would prefer that be with me, but I want you to be happy either way.'

- and it went on like this, she would throw up another accusation, saying I had not changed, I only wanted what I wanted and was pulling a con job on her to get it, and as soon as she agreed everything would go back to the way it used to be.
Several times she repeated she was unhappy, miserable, not sure she even wanted to stay. Each time I agreed with her feelings, apologized, said I would not force her - that I *preferred* that she stay and we work it out, but I would support her either way - and I would condense her statement into a 'then you don't want this or that with me' question, adding that whatever her answer was, was okay to say.

And every time I asked that, she would step away from it 'it's not even that, I'm just *miserable*' and she would begin explaining the extent of her hurt again. And when I didn't pull back or argue, she'd turn to 'being honest' - which is both an admirable quality in her, and one she uses as a weapon.
I know from her own telling that in her past, and even in her past with me - she would be honest, and then be punished for it, attacked, judged, fought with, and so on - and I began to see her using 'I'm going to be honest here' as a test - to break my resolve, to prove I was conning her, to reveal what she feared - that I wasn't for real.
It hurt - it hurt so much I can't describe. As was said earlier, it was like staring into a mirror where every ugly truth and mistake you ever made was revealed - and it took everything I had not to run, hide, or fight back.

And in my mind and heart I held on to two things - that I loved her, and whether she was preparing to leave, or was testing me, it didn't change what *I* had to do - which was stand strong, take everything she threw at me, respect her, love her, and just keep coming at her with all the love and understanding and respect and desire I had.

And before long her responses took on the tone of 'I don't know, even if I say yes I can't just turn everything back on like a switch, which is what you seem to expect'.

I am open to the possibility this is still leading to her leaving. But I have looked back over the entire evening and the exact pattern that both Dr. Harley and Tony Robbins predicted is right there as clear as daylight.

Given every opportunity to leave, without negative consequence, she chose to stay and explain herself and try to argue and make demands - selfish seeming, entirely all about her, her, her - but she was still talking to me. She hit me over and over in ways she knew would hurt me more than anything - honesty about the past and her feelings she knew would be the most painful for me to hear - and I took it and gave back love and understanding.

It was hell, and wherever it goes from her I know it's not going to get much better for a while. But loving her and meeting her emotional needs, even if it starts simply with respect and support, is the *only* option I have allowed myself.

I do not let myself judge her.
I do not let myself evaluate how *she* is doing in the relationship. I ignore her Love Busters.
I do not give myself the option of running away - withdrawing or leaving.
I do not give myself the option of trying to excuse or explain away the past and invalidate her feelings.
I do not give myself the option of anger - if I feel hurt and my Taker tries to lash out in anger, I walk away, go silent, take deep breaths, force myself back to the same place where I love and understand and respect her.

Tony Robbins said, at this point it is her *job* to test me - I want to be better, but you never *get* to be better if it is never tested. And he said *she* wants me to be better, but she has to be able to believe in me, and she can't do that without first proving that the old me isn't going to come rushing back as soon as her guard is down.

So I weathered the first serious storm, and stood strong in the face of a severe round of testing. But I warn you - it hurt like hell, at times my chest hurt so bad I felt like I couldn't breathe - but you have to do it anyway. Have to.

Not a good person, but a bad person trying to be better than he was