Three weeks ago the woman I love started sleeping over at my place on Friday nights.

A week ago, just before Christmas, she came on a Friday night and stayed for days. We had endless gabo. This fitted well with my low self esteem. I told myself she was coming because I had just cashed a $3000 bonus cheque and could keep us stoned constantly during Christmas, a traditionally difficult time for junkies.

She stayed Friday, Saturday. Sunday, Monday (Christmas) she was at her sisters. Tuesday night she stayed here. I went to work Wednesday morning, leaving her here. It had been a very stoned night full of garbled dreams and darkened gropings. She did not push me away as she had the last years of her being here. She did not react with an outraged "What are you doing". But neither did she encourage anything, offer any indication of desire to participate.

Is it my low self esteem really? When I think that she still does not love me, but has come to a practical realisation (aided by the imminent loss of her job, announced to her four days before Christmas) that life without a man or a profession is not easy, even in 2006. Has she just realised that next year holds no more than her than this year, less income, no studies, no goals.

I know that she could achieve any goals she desired, were she to stop using. But then, so could I. The strengths that have grown in us through years of usage could be powerful forces if the chains that held them down were removed.

But these chains are part of the strengths perhaps? How often do you see the junkie really cured. Mostly they have just moved on to the next zeal, the next habit. "The sum of our habits never changes" said Ella a few weeks ago. Meaning - alcohol, gambling dope, you just swap one for the other.

So I just said goodbye to my lovely upstairs tonight, at the lobby to the main street four floors above my flat. She left to walk back to her place (When I say "Why not stay here tonight" she responds "It's easier to walk tonight than in the mornig when I am feeling crusty" - answering a question with the wrong truth. Not a lie, but also not an answer dealing with what's happening between us at the moment.) And with only one shot in me instead of the three or four I was doing a few days ago, the realisation that she she was soon to leave (permanently) was on me. I could expect no miracles. A girl that had spent the last six months in the embrace of others, others she does not want me to meet, can not be expected to change.

I'm sure we've all read that line about how the one thing you can expect people to do is what they've done before. At 30 this is truer than at 20.

She has left me before. This is something between us. Not an unforgivable event, there's nothing to forgive. Leaving is not an assault, a lie, a betrayal. Well, a sort of betrayal, but an honest one. A betrayal of vows, of promises that I had thought unspoken but open between us. It turned out there was nothing unspoken between us. Where I had imagined invisible bonds, there was only imagination, no bonds. A betrayal of a future laid out before us.

So as for it being something between us, it's a gulf that's there now that will always be. If she stays "come back" as she has been trespassing on this last stoned week, I know she will never say words that commit her there. And I now know she has the ability to leave at any time. And she will leave, because her heart is elsewhere. That no matter how many hours she spends at my side, they are just hours counting down to when she leaves for good.

She is wanting out of Brisbane. She does not want me to go with her, I am not part of that plan. Maybe her short term Brisbane friends have failed her somehow recently ("I feel so disposable" she said last week. Who has disposed of her besides work - I imagine Matt, Owen etc?) and she needs a support channel temporarily whilst she rebuilds her powers. Perhaps that is what I am now, a recharging point for her, like a mobile phone plug. I provide cash, platonic (if stoned enough) support. She knows how to handle me if I put any pressure on her for more than what she can pretend is friendship.

Three weeks ago the woman I love started sleeping over at my place on Friday nights. That would have been the start of a happy story but for three words she will never say, three words that the absence of turns the last week from romance to farce.

Happy new year.