They're drowning. Drowning in fear, apathy, distrust, or their preferred method of self destructive behavior. You see them struggling, flailing, fighting for their next breath. Something in you won't let them go under permanently. You gather your strength, gird your stamina, and race into the choppy waters, determined to save them. Just reaching them seems impossible. The closer you get, the further away they drift. Your lungs burn, ready to burst from exertion. Your limbs ache, unable to carry you much further. You begin to wonder if you should turn back, if they are too far gone. But then you look for them, and see they are within your grasp, so you press on, knowing that if you can just get to them everything will be okay. And just as they are about to slip beneath the surface for the last time, you reach out and touch them, telling them to hold tight as you help them back to safety. If they don't let go and just keep kicking, they'll make it. But when they hold on to you, their grip is like a noose, choking the life from you. And while straining towards the shore, you realize they're content to float where they are, a blob of dead weight. You start to ask yourself what exactly is the point in this rescue mission. Through it all, you persevere with the conviction you will be richly rewarded in the end.
Once upon a time, I thought I could save him from himself. I could get him to trust, to open up, to see the good in people. He was my mission. For over two years I twisted myself in knots, drowning while he used me for a life preserver. If I held on long enough, I could get him through the undertow and back on solid ground. I succeeded. And in return for all my hard work, I get an engraved invitation to see him marry the woman who reaped all the benefits.