My best friend has a deep pain inside. He gets excited, laughs, jokes, smiles and plays, but between I see slight sighs and hollow eyes. Whether or not he’s trying to hide it I don’t know, but it’s not hidden from me.

I know what’s causing the pain and he does too, but there’s nothing more I can do to help him. I feel the same pain; it runs deep, a gushing undercurrent of anguish. Tears threaten to spill for hours on end, frustration wants to be released in the form of fists thrown into a wall but it must be kept in because you’re in public or around people. When you’re alone the anger turns into alienation and anxiety. I feel the same pain; but it’s more temporary for me, cyclical in nature and slowly spirally upwards to recovery. I know it doesn’t run as deep for me either. I make steady, visible progress while he drags onwards so slowly he looks to be still. I so badly want to help him mend it.

Knowing what is going on; the doubt, confusion and flat depression, but not being able to grab his arm and pull him out affects me on a strange plane. It is not my sadness but a mixture of guilt, empathy and helplessness. I feel guilty for being able to quell it, diffuse it faster than he can. I’m empathetic because I know what the pain feels like, devastating, thorough and evil yet I know he is experiencing it even worse than I. I feel helpless because my advice, my hugs, presence, care and understanding don’t and won’t heal him. Sure, those things help and probably make a decent difference, but this pain is a duel between his soul, mind and heart. No amount of outside assistance can make peace.

So I sit by him. I sit and I watch, nervous yet faithful. There is no place I could imagine I’d rather be, and I’ll be here for however long it takes. If it takes years or decades or a century it doesn’t matter, he will get better and when it’s all over we’ll drink beer and laugh. A long wholesome laugh of relief, of anticipation. We’ll grow old together whatever happens and I can say that with great confidence. There’s no one like him for me. He’ll always be my best friend.