Addicted listening is injurious to health

Sutrishna Sen

That night I decided that even if it’d be the last day of my life, I’d never talk to him again. Tag me with your favourite social media adjective but I knew I had helped him enough.
I had never been judgemental to him. Heart-broken 4years ago, when his girl-friend got married to someone else and for all kinds of devastation probably he believed he qualified, besides my unconditional presence on the other side of the call, irrespective of my time, place, situation or mental state. The easiest to access and collapse, of course his body, became his favourite playground. Alcohol became his most refreshing drink and he would sing in praise of beer, how it’s scientifically even better than water! His alveoli got adjusted to a level where it’d effortlessly trigger him to smoke 20 cigars a day. He’d even confuse with the counting sometimes. So, what was my role in all his righteous addiction games? Just like an old radio playing the same uplifting songs for hours every time but ending up like a tear swamped speechless pillow.
Self-pity could push you unknowingly to a trench where you blindfold your wrongs and abuse others for your obstructed view. He was another modern youth needlessly consuming some so-called cool things to crush the remnants of hope and happiness from his future too. He used to say, talking to me helped him. At least for a moment he’d admit a loss for a loss wasn’t the answer but the opposite is. But then again, his weakness would win over his transient intellect and this had become an infinite loop until my system finally crashed!
That night, at 2, he on the other side of the call, drunk as usual, kept begging, “Please listen to me, won’t take more than 5 minutes…” after periodic episodes of his shouting and calming down, unquestionably repeating those same words for the last 3hours whenever I tried to hang up. I had classes from 8 the next morning. My patience and empathy had hit the sky like a boomerang and I didn’t know how to catch it back without getting myself hurt. I shouted so harsh, “Don’t consume my future too with your carelessness please, I have a family to look after. Your dad is alive but not mine. Stop blaming me for your unwillingness to embrace the change you need desperately and it’s not a dependency on me definitely. I don’t want to get add up to your list of addictions”.
I hung up with those words and for once in a lifetime I realized why sudden detachment was more supportive than constant motivation. A hurt for a hurt, apparently although toxic it sounded. But I was the only spectator watching my friendship failed even after these truly friendly five years.
Heartfelt apologies crowded my inbox months after that in the snaps of the suicide note he ended with “my best friend”. No, he didn’t die although attempted it, not because I stopped normalizing his adamant arrogant attitude that he’s allowed to act this abnormal, but because he was weighed down by his own guilts that he was busy nurturing until I left. Fortunately, this time he recalled the counting correctly. They were too much indeed but I’m not in anyways validating his death attempt. His dad somehow managed to save him amidst this pandemic, accepting all his deeds since beginning of his irresponsible phase, knowing all I did for him and it was undebatable. His dad knew it all but never thought his silent, emotionally blind support for his only son could create so much hell at home! He couldn’t stop but called me up and shared the summary of everything his son did since I stopped talking. I was still unshaken from my determination and all that happened was quite matching my subconscious imagination. Neither his “I am sorry for taking you for granted” could melt me nor his dad’s wishes, of me taking his son’s charge again, what he should have done long ago nor his dead-end assurance alike his son that he’d change. I stopped feeling anything at all. Probably that’s the only similarity among lifeless objects, abstract feelings and humans, - their values are highly time-dependent. Feeding someone hours after knowing the hunger never helps. Piling up the broken pieces of our favourite showpiece in the showcase can never radiate the same aesthetic appearance again no matter how much you chant “but I adore it very much” after it has undergone an irreversible damage. Well, it just consoles your soul that you still have it, although it has lost itself. Hope can never be a bait for the dead. I told his dad, “Now he’s been staying with you so please take needed care, I had done my part and it’s more than he’d ever get”. I couldn’t drain myself anymore to fill an ungrateful who was actually full of himself and hence forever empty.
I had read somewhere, “You can’t change anyone by loving them harder”. Feels genuine enough. That boy consumed so much of love and support from me, his dad’s silence that fuelled his reckless intentions to become more powerful, his dad’s money that he spent only in spoiling himself, yet never understood anything, rather kept on justifying his guilty pleasures even though it reached to the peak of his questionable character. While we just kept on understanding him a bit more, assuming his toxicity as his emotional dependency, his habits as his helplessness and his rants as his lonely depression! No, your depression doesn’t engulf others, it only eats you from within. Intended intellectual blindness to wrap up your wrongs is a disease and it infects the innocents more than the one truly diseased.
So many trendy words can assemble now in your mind which you scroll through social media posts everyday- self-respect, ego and so on. But in my case, it was none of these. I can’t use them for a friend I mindfully preferred losing for his betterment, real betterment I should say. I was fed up with his unapologetic selfishness that only demanded my one-sided attention while he never bothered to know how it started draining me too or even to try reshaping his thoughts and life. I was contended for how much I did and I had realized it too late that the therapy wasn’t suitable for him, he’d grown perfectly resistant and so I should change the therapy, not the dose, nor the patient. Sometimes people realize in absence. But then also I had nothing to do with if he realized me right or not. It’s like you have given your best and now even the results don’t matter. Spiritual satisfaction. Never in my life I felt I should be answerable to anyone other than myself and the Almighty. I didn’t become suddenly selfish but I finally learnt to choose self-peace. After all these years, this healer needed to rebuilt herself, take care of herself, plunge into herself to welcome a long, independent, solitude and self-introspection, to balance the self-critic and compassion, to indulge in a healthy self-talk she always cherishes. I had been suppressing my soul’s warning voice and hunger that too needed a little gentle loving touch and an unbiased listener like me.
Listening to him to wipe off his emptiness had turned into my toxic trait too; I was unwilling to avoid in the hind ground. It helped none but rather left me with a vacuum where I could no longer welcome myself to suffocate. Things that look still on the surface, like being a good listener, could do deepest destruction that a mere myopic observer can never capture.


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