I considered it an outward sign of my quick wit. My cleverness. I liked to show it off to friends and strangers alike. A proud display of my intellect. And superiority.
I had many friends who were sarcastic. Throughout high school, college and afterwards. The ones who would always offer the snappy comment. Those zingers that would, when delivered in a group of people standing around drinking beers, elicit “Oooooh! Snap!” from the peanut gallery… enabling them to look at the person to whom their comment was directed and feel superior.
In rehab I learned a new term: self-seeking. One morning we were discussing different character flaws that were common among people with substance abuse issues. Along with arrogance, self-righteousness and a long list of others, self-seeking came up. Now I had caught on to most of the new recovery-speak to that point, but that particular expression flummoxed me.
I asked a counselor and found that it basically means acting or speaking in a way that makes you feel superior to someone else. On a higher level in comparison. Or conversely, that puts them down.
Through the lens of my early recovery I quickly concluded, “Well that one doesn’t apply to me!” (which was fortunate news in that many of the others certainly did.) I knew I was certainly arrogant, selfish and overly-critical. I did a quick scan of my personality, tendencies and actions. "Self-seeking? Nope. Not me."
Me 2. You 0.
Which is the exact definition of self-seeking.
We frequently engage in this type of banter under the guise of humor. We do it with a smile and a gentle elbow nudge to the ribs. Sometimes we might even say, “I’m just messing with you” or, “giving you a hard time”, or even offer, “just kidding” if the person looks offended or if we feel we’ve gone a little too far.
But honestly, who really wants to get messed with or given a hard time? Those phrases alone contain harmful intent, however mild the degree. They can hurt. Sting.
It is said "We are only as sick as our secrets." Was my sarcasm keeping me sick? And stuck in my addiction? Well, while not a primary cause, I can say it was a contributing factor. And an outward manifestation of an inner self unwell.
Well it’s been more than 3 years since I officially learned the term self-seeking. And yesterday I felt the impetus to post a snappy comment on a friend’s Facebook page. He is a wonderful person of unquestionable integrity, honesty and devotion to his family. But offering friendly jabs is part of his personality. He enjoys having fun with others in this way. So I thought I’d leave him a comment in the same vein I’d seen him leave for others. Show his friends and followers that I could dish it too.
But as I wrote it I felt a funny feeling in my gut. I hit Enter anyway. And then a couple of people liked my comment. So somehow I felt a little bit better. Vindicated.
But I woke up this morning and thought “That’s just not me”. It was clear. Nope—that’s just not who I am anymore.
Thankfully, it’ll be easy to correct this action. Practicing the character asset of apologizing immediately and sincerely when wronging someone. Making amends. Making things right if you can.
This allows for a clear conscience. And realignment with the values I’ve come to call my own.
I’m off to his post on Facebook to delete my comment. Easy peasy.
I’m glad my stomach gets twitchy when an old instinct like this rears its head. It shows I’m making progress. Evolving. And living truer to the self I respect. The better version of myself I’ve worked hard to become.
I like to stand on even ground with my friends now. And when I can, move them up a peg instead.