I try to sleep. I really do. For a good hour, I make a serious attempt. I toss and I turn, and I even get a few minutes where I’m sure I’m out, but it doesn’t last. A moment later, I’m up again. My brain, despite my best efforts, continues to fire on all cylinders. I try everything: complete darkness, overstimulation, distraction. Nothing works. The gears in my head just keep grinding away.

It’s my own fault. I should know better. I got involved, and I shouldn’t have. I vowed to keep to myself, because it is better for me. I should just let the world keep spinning, but instead I put my nose where it doesn’t belong, and now, here I am. Incapable of sleep, processing permutations and possibilities. I made the vow for a reason. I knew I had to step away, and work on my own shit, and maybe when that was good I could finally be okay again.

Of course, I never follow my own advice. I see the signs of impending doom, and push myself forward anyway. I am apparently destined to repeat this same mistake over and over. I get it in my head that the thing I want is so close. If I don’t give up, this time will be different. If I can just hang on.

She’s asleep in the other room, now. She’s not laughing any more, not giggling with the man she brought home. No more moaning, no sounds of them trying to fuck quietly on the couch while I lay in the adjacent room.

(I suppose I should be thankful she’s trying to be quiet these days.)

I can’t be bothered by the idea of them lying there together, because he’s already left. She’s in that other room alone. Probably feeling stupid and used, like she does every time this happens. Like she tells me every morning after.

She says she’s going to change. I say the same thing. And yet, here we are, two people enabling our own stupid shit. I can’t control her. I don’t want to control her. I just want her to be better, to get her shit together. Because if I can help her get her shit together, maybe I can make mine work, too.

Our problems aren’t so different, I tell myself. I don’t know if I’m lying to myself, or just delusional. She doesn’t want to change. She wants to be carefree and live in the moment. Which is great for a while, until you need to do things like pay rent. Unless happen you find a sucker who will let you stay at their place because they’re sure they can save you.

Of course, I don’t want to change, either. I like who I am. I tell myself that the only thing that’s wrong with me is that I hold on when I shouldn’t. I hold on when it’s long past time to let go. Sometimes, I even believe that’s it.

She’s not saving money. She’s barely even working. And every dollar she makes goes to a new tattoo or a new piercing. She’s still stealing all her clothes, still eating McDonald’s for every meal.

If I tell her to get lost, though, where does she go? Back to bouncing from bed to bed, sleeping with people just so she can sleep at all? How could she work what few hours she does? Kicking her out wouldn’t be a death sentence, but it would hurt her, emotionally and financially. I care about that, even though I shouldn’t.

Part of me wants to go in there and comfort her. I did that once, on one of her first nights here. We talked for a bit, and she told me she just wished someone would love her back as much as she loved them. My heart broke for her. Then she asked if she could lay in my bed with me, because the couch gets uncomfortable night after night. I let her. I held her all night. It felt like she belonged there with me. We kissed, and she smiled. And then we slept.

A few nights later, she brought a guy home. After he left (because, like I said, they always do) she came right to my room and slept next to me. I couldn’t say no. She started sleeping in my room, even when I wasn’t there. Then I found her in my bed with one of her exes. I started locking my bedroom door after that.

I tried kicking her out once. She was out drinking and partying late into the night, so I changed the locks to the apartment. She sat outside on the stoop, crying until I let her in. Not that it took long for me to break.

“How could you do this to me,” she cried, “How can you kick me out on Christmas?”

I hadn’t even thought about the date. I felt bad. I felt like an asshole for doing what anyone else would have done long before. I felt weak. Weak for giving in to her. Even weaker for not being able to help her. I told her that I didn’t think things were working.

“I thought you were happy with me,” she said, “I thought we were getting along.”

She wasn’t entirely off the mark. I am happy when it’s just us. Sometimes she thinks of me while she’s out shoplifting, and steals me a CD. I like that she blasts Less Than Jake and dances around the apartment in her underwear. I like the way she leaves the bathroom door open after she showers, and how she invites me in there as she brushes her teeth and puts on her makeup. I like that she asked me to help clean her most intimate of piercings, and that she regularly invites me to help trim her pubic hair. I am more intimate with her than I was with most girlfriends.

She knows I want to fuck her, and that I want more of a relationship with her, but she also knows I would never press the matter. I even enjoy the game she plays, except on the nights she brings someone else home. Those nights hurt more than almost anything. She lets me get so close, closer than any of these guys care to be, but she won’t let it go to a place she takes everyone else.

So here I lay, unable to sleep. Torn between doing what is right for me, and what is right for her. Trying to find a way to make an impossible situation work, because I know no one else will.

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