I know you don’t watch me walk away

I know you don’t watch me walk away. I know you don’t press your forehead against the double glass to keep me in your sight. There is no straining for that one last look, no time suspended in the final unblinking stare. You don’t stay with me until I am just another city glow fading in to night.

Tonight I have said I don’t want to do this anymore. I have said it in the way a liar can tell a single truth, sudden and surprising. You are asleep, or nearly asleep when I whisper it across the back of your head.

I don’t want to do this anymore. This – laying in your arms in yet another bed of tangled sheets. This staccato relationship, our little parody where the only authentic act is how you fall asleep straight after we fuck. And I know what comes next. I can feel the separation as keenly as if you have already peeled your body from mine, already slid back in to that second skin, the crisp white shirt and pressed pants, so deftly shucked hours before. I feel you walking out the door, even as your breath warms my breast and your hand remains heavy between my legs. And I decide that tonight I will be the one to go.

I have held on to you so long that my hands clench around you, still. My fingertips try to press in to you one last time, to roll across your skin in a final and heroic effort to prove my identity. But you barely stir, as one finger then the next has to release its grip.

I move to the edge of the bed and I tell you I am leaving. I say other things too, they tumble from a wine-thick tongue, but in time to come I will only ever remember this. How I say I am leaving and you mumble I’ll see you soon, and how with your eyes still closed you miss the way I shake my head, no.

I know you don’t get up after I close the door behind me. I know you don’t move to the window to watch me tremble into the night. You are not looking down to see me stumble through cracks of concrete in the heels you removed so carefully over dinner, and you don’t watch as I recede to a grey as cobbled as the street below. With no neon flash of text to say goodnight, no vibrating phone to accompany me home, I know you are already sound asleep.

It is my 35th birthday and I will not cry. One wobbly foot in front of the other on this midnight street, I walk away.

Rock Bublitz & Jo Piechota at body, remember

Image by Joanne Piechota

Author’s update – November 2012: Jo recently created a visual essay inspired by the above piece; for more information on I know you don’t watch me walk away (imagined) click here.

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112 thoughts on “I know you don’t watch me walk away

      1. Joanne, you have a lovely insightful way of expressing yourself. I can feel the feelings that cause you pain. I love it because you chose to do something about it.

  1. Yes, great to stumble on your blog. This piece was beautiful, it made visuals for a very unimaginative mind.

    When i started off reading I felt like this piece was describing my view in the last relationship, knowing who cared more. But after the first two paragraphs it was more like some nights from her point of view. Reading this grounded me, and that’s always a good thing.

  2. Your prose is soulfully poetic, and a gift to others… but I am mindful that your breathing out your soul comes from labored, painful struggle.

  3. Absolutely brilliant! I really agree with Archer above, its a shame that great poetry or any truly touching art comes from deeply personal and painful experiences or feelings that people have to overcome and as a result of that you connect so deeply with so many people in such a personal way. Well done and please keep writing,

    1. Thank you for your lovely encouragement. I’m thinking of a fitting Anais Nin quote here: “I postpone death by living, by suffering, by error, by risking, by giving, by losing.” And I would add – by writing 🙂

  4. I really liked this. I sometimes have a vague fantasy of writing down my own thoughts like this but I never do, and I admire those who actually make it happen.

  5. It is truly sad how often this post will reverberate with the person reading it. This is definitely the kind of heart break that hurts the most. You write beautifully.

    1. As a point in time it absolutely sucks to be in this position. But in my experience the letting go can only bring good things – in time. I hope (know!) it can be the same for you x

  6. reading this actually gave me a stiff, uncomfortable feeling in my chest… sounded all too familiar to me. it was all so soft and delicate and then the word “fuck” was like a slap in the face. you just wrote exactly how I felt at a point in my life. amazing!!! I loved it!

    1. I have been blown away by the response to this – the way so many of us have experienced this moment at a certain point in our lives. I’m glad the rhythm change works too (though sorry it felt like a slap, ha!). Thank you so much for taking the time to comment x

  7. I stumbled by this, and the title caught my interest. THIS is AMAZING. I haven’t felt like this before, but the way you wrote it, made me feel like I understood, and that it was happening to me. I was really drawn into it, and just wanted to know more. What happened later? Did he ever contact her again?

    I’m impressed! Keep up the great work, I’m definitely checking out more of your work!

    1. Hi Marie, thanks for taking the time to comment. I’ve only been writing ‘publicly’ for 9 months or so, it still feels brand new and I get a real kick hearing from people like this. This piece is really the start of the story … although at the time it felt like the end 😉

  8. So gorgeous and intimate and heart wrenching. Great writing takes great courage sometimes. I’ve been in that room, and in that head. I know that man — these words could have been my own, but they’re so beautifully yours.

    1. Hi Trina, I hope for you that walking away was the start of something better … as it (eventually, ha!) was for me … I do love that this piece captures a moment many people can recognise, but I also feel for anyone who relates (because doesn’t it suck to be in that room!!!). Thanks so much for your lovely comment x

  9. I don’t know if this really happened to you. I hope it didn’t. Because if it did, I experienced the same thing and never want anyone else to go through something like that.
    You beautifully described everything I was and am going through and I highly appreciate the fact that I’m not alone.
    Words cannot describe how I feel right now. Words cannot describe.

    1. Hi Jasmine,

      I was really moved by your comment and hope things are okay with you. Yes this really did happen (with a little artistic license thrown in). And lots of this blog talks to how tough that particular time was, but it also talks to how I got through it … you are definitely not alone in this, one thing I have been made so aware of through this blog is just how many people can relate, for better or worse to these moments. It DOES get better. You just have to take your time xx

      1. It means the world to me that you replied, let alone with such a sweet message. I adore your writing style, I can really appreciate it as I am a writer myself. 🙂
        If you would like to check it out, here is a poetry blog I keep where I post all of the poems pertaining to this experience… or addiction I should call it. 🙂
        I hope you have a wonderful day. 🙂
        http://hellopoetry.com/-aapkihamesha/

  10. I can empathize with this. Really hit home. I feel as though every woman has gone through this with at least one of her lovers. Not easy to let go but one must to move foward and stay strong.

    1. I agree … seems that this reflects what is a defining moment for a lot of people – leaving someone you love because you can’t stay. Thank you for taking the time to comment 🙂

  11. Been there…. So glad it’s now 15 years later and true love has arrived. Never too late. This brought back so many of those memories.. Great feeling, great story.

  12. crying, literally…So raw and real! I can’t tell you what this means to me…it’s like you have lived my life and know what I have been through. Thank you for taking the time to write this.

    1. Hey there. I had tried a hundred times before (to walk away, and to write about it!) so this piece reflects an honest moment of realisation/acceptance of my situation. I think that’s what is resonating … it’s sort of the moment you give up the fight. But the best thing is how it is also the start of everything else you haven’t had time or energy for. I hope you are discovering this too xx

  13. Amazing! Not only do you write from your heart, but you write from your soul as well. You are beautiful on the inside and the outside. And its very cool that you reply to each one of your posts as well! 🙂 You have another follower…looking forward to your next blog!

  14. I found this on StumbleUpon….which is probably the best think I’ve ever found on StumbleUpon. I cried when I read this not only because you write like Anna Quindlen who makes me cry on the daily but because this hit a heartstring that made me realize my life needed to change.
    I have a “friends w/benefits” and have maintained it off and on for a year and I never knew how exactly to put into words how I felt but here, you’ve done it. I read this and saw myself and exactly what I’ve always wanted to say but could never realize what it would like like if written down. Honest to god, I save this story and when I’m about to call him or take him up on another offer for an evening of lust, I read this story and simply say no which, if you knew me, is amazing.
    You have encouraged me, without knowing it, to write again and with a simple post you have quite possibly been the one to save my life. Thank you so much for your talent and sharing it with the world. I will check back often and I hope maybe someday you would be kind enough to read my work too.
    http://innumerableawkwardmoments.tumblr.com/ <3s you

    1. I have been thinking about this comment since it came through. It made me cry – yep! So tit for tat there! That piece really was about being at the most worn down moment of my life, and I am both sad and hopeful for anyone else who finds themselves there and recognises the moment. Hopeful mostly, because it’s the start of something, walking away – it.really.is!

      I hope you’re still saying no … or more often than yes at least … if only because YES belongs to something better, and to a situation where you are free to say it again and again and have it be heard.

      I am looking forward to digging into your writing (your “fiery grisly” writing, ha!) and hope you’ll keep in touch xxx

      PS Anna Quindlen – LOVE!

  15. I’m just now reading this. It’s real and totally relatable. as someone who’s been in a similar situation before… I totally felt everything that you wrote. Thank you for sharing. I think you just inspired my next blog post.

  16. You did the right thing, if only I could make others understand that when their hearts are feeling as if they were ripped from their bodies. I didn’t walk away. I stayed. I married him. For ten years, I knew nothing but hell and sadness. And when I told him to leave, it was me who didn’t watch him walk away.

    1. Thank you for taking the time to comment and letting me know a little of your story. And for reminding me that we CAN do the right thing (from time to time!). I wish you lots of heaven and happiness to make up for those ten years x

  17. Wow…. StumbleUpon helped me to read this. Now, this is in my favorite list.

    Without doubt, you are excellent with your writing skills. You know very well how to convey your feelings through writing…

    You are amazing! utterly amazing!!!

  18. My boyfriend and I are officially breaking it off tonight. I am counting the minutes as I type knowing full well the words I’ve feared. Reading this puts my heart as ease a bit. Thank you very much. It was a beautiful read and something I will remember

    1. I hope you are okay – it helps to read other people’s experiences (and to have them remind you that hearts can be eased), but I know it desperately sucks in the moment. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment, and I wish you well in all that comes from this x

  19. This is so sad, but yet so real, a feeling at times that I have wanted to express over the years, yet now we have passed our 25th.

    1. Definitely the piece I had to write to understand what happened … 25th?? Amazing what endures. Thank you for your comment and reminder of why I wrote this (trying, trying to express that feeling) x

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