You're right, Unagie, and she imparted that much to me as well this evening.
"Fix yourself. I don't want this happening again."
To that end, I just spent half an hour or so meditating on our patio, seeing if I could possibly tease out any more of the 'building blocks' that led to my behavior.
Here's what I've gotten so far:
- I picture these elements of my psyche as engines and other components strung together with belts, the engines turning the gears on the other components so that they run.
The two main engines I have are "narcissistic tendencies" and "rejection of (unfit, psychologically abusive) mother." The Rejection Engine powers a component that, for a long time, made me seek out attention from especially older women/girls, then to a lesser extent older men, then to an even smaller extent girls my age. These were, in essence, supposed to replace my FOO, which I perceived as being broken. My experiences in high school led me to chain that component to the component of "being the center of attention," which is primarily powered by my NT Engine. I learned to read people and try to predict what they were expecting me to say/do. I called it 'empathy.' This led to extreme external validation needs.
From everything I've read, narcissism leads to sexual deviance because of entitlement, and I would have to assume that I was no different, especially during my post-teenage years. My primary focus was BDSM with older females (that lovely combination of narcissism/entitlement and detachment from mother/FOO), and I was fairly angry when people didn't immediately accept me in the community despite what I felt was an adequate learning background in the subject (much as I have exhibited here from time to time, it seems).
The sexual deviance led to an internal realization of brokenness, because I felt I had to cover up in order to keep giving the appearance that I was 'red-blooded, all-American boy that Mom wanted to be a preacher some day.' I learned to lie fairly well to cover my own tracks. My own judgment calls would constantly shift in favor of hiding my own embarrassment, rather than giving people the truth and honesty they wanted and deserved. Protecting myself and my constructed self-image were more important to me than being honest or dependable.
So many years of these practices went on that I became almost comfortable in them. I still knew the things I was doing were deviant and not culturally-permissible, but I surrounded myself with people who at least supported those kinds of choices, so I deluded myself into being at ease with the choices I had made. I still hid these particular practices from people whose opinions I valued and whose validation I sought, but once they learned of my deviousness, I would admit some level of defeat, and eventually things would go back to some kind of status quo where I could be comfortable again.
I became quite accustomed to how to hide these things from the people around me that I just naturally carried this horrible tendency into my relationship with Heart. I didn't want her to see the 'broken' me; I wanted to be 'perfect' for her, just as I had wanted to be 'perfect' for so many people whose opinions I valued and validation I needed to thrive. When she started questioning me and/or not giving me what I felt like I deserved, I started seeking validation and support outside our marriage. I even deluded myself into thinking that I was doing this for 'the right reasons' (such as wanting to fill out more of my sexual fetish BINGO card - ugh) and had help in the form of my LTEA, who supported my distancing myself from Heart and pursuing my own selfish goals (and was also incredibly Narcissistic to boot).
My life, in short, has been a constant thrum of those two engines, tethered together: Narcissistic Tendencies and External Approval (from Rejection of Mother/FOO).
What have I been doing to those ends?
I started small. I carefully mete my conversations with unfamiliar people and familiar people, but in different ways. I use my boundaries (never had them before) to think carefully about topics in conversation and when things have crossed any particular lines that I am not comfortable crossing.
I don't medicate myself with porn. I don't spend all day looking at it or fantasizing about it.
I try to carefully gauge when I am thinking too much of my own needs and not taking into consideration other peoples' needs.
Most importantly, though, I am getting used to living within boundaries I created for myself because it helps me define who I am and who I want to be. I have learned to communicate better with Heart, and as a result, I do 90% of my conversing in a day with her, either through text, phone calls, email, or face-to-face. Because of my being able to open myself completely to her (I admit even the dumbest things I'm thinking about at any given moment), I don't have the drive to open myself to anyone else. I don't seek approval outside of our house, and I am very vigilant for the times that I start to speak as though I'm seeking someone else's approval and/or as though I feel entitled to something.
I used to just assume everyone in the world was wired the same way as I am/was (narcissism), but I can see now that there are a lot of people who have their heads on a LOT straighter than I do. It's that desire to be clearer-minded and more thoughtful of others (while not completely supplicating to others in order to try and gain their affection) that helps me now, and because I spend a lot of time conversing and dealing with Heart, most of my attempts to be thoughtful fall to her. Just numbers, there.
I do apologize if I seem like I rant and rave too much about "what can I do for Heart?" type-things when I should be doing more work on myself, but I've ignored and fought against her for so long that I feel it imperative to do more to stabilize, fix, and heal the damage I've done to the relationship. I suppose it would all be for naught if I were still damaged on the inside, though. Point made.