We left India a year ago today.

We left in a state of deep despair; saddened that it wasn’t working out, wondering what it was going to mean for us, and fearful that it would mean the worst… that we were going to have to go home.

For a long time I couldn’t talk about our time in India or our decision to leave. I was, and still am, very emotional about our time there and our leaving – it all still seems very raw even a year later.

There was never any doubt that we had made the right decision. In fact, within one day of being in Thailand, we were feeling back to ourselves and the two weeks we spent on Koh Phangan over Christmas were heaven, punctuated often by the phrase Best. Decision. Ever.”

But what had gotten us to that point? I still don’t know what caused the perfect storm that culminated in us leaving, but I have come to a few realizations:

I had unrealistic expectations of Jason. I think I wanted him to make it all better for me…and he couldn’t. He was struggling as much as, or more, than I was and so didn’t have the strength to hold me up as well.

Coming to India was not his dream, it was mine and I was upset that he couldn’t stand up to it. I was upset that he didn’t like it and thought that if he just tried harder it would be better for both of us.

I was more than unfair.

We were sick and I refused to believe it should matter. Jason came down with a terrible respiratory infection. I caught it too.

I thought that it would pass and then, once we felt better, things would get better for us. We had hired a car and driver and had an itinerary to keep so we soldiered on thinking it would go away, but it just held on strong.

There were times we could barely get out of bed from exhaustion, we were barely eating and were wracked by coughing but we still forged ahead with the plan until it became clear that we could no longer. We ended up in an Indian emergency room buying medication from who knows who and holing up in our room pretending India didn’t exist.

I wonder how things would have been different if we had taken the time to heal.

I wasn’t behaving how I wanted to behave. I knew at the time that I wasn’t behaving how I wanted and, despite giving myself numerous talking-to’s I continued to behave badly.

I was short with Jason, didn’t try to understand how he was feeling or what his experience was. I was sullen when things weren’t going well and cynical when they were.

I had allowed a rift to form between us and I was too proud to reach across and help fill the gap. I was unable to support him and give him the help that he needed or to ask for the help and support I needed.

It makes me weep now just thinking of how I behaved. I am not proud and am deeply sorry. It fills me with shame but I have to admit that it is perhaps my behavior that was the true downfall of our time in India.

I think that’s why it has been so hard to talk about; because it means looking at myself with unabashed honesty and taking responsibility for my actions. I am finally ready to do that publicly, one year later.

Our year away was one of the hardest years in our 12 year relationship and, for a time, I thought that the three weeks in India might have done us in. Our decision to leave was based entirely on our one guiding principle; that traveling would not be the undoing of us. We left to preserve what little was left of us and to start rebuilding so we could carry on. We were lucky – I have read of many couples that did not withstand stress such as this and ended up parting ways.

I am grateful that Jason had the strength to eventually say that he thought it was time for us to leave and I am thankful that I had the wherewithal, finally, to realize it was true.

I knew traveling in India would be difficult, and yet I am loathe to blame her for any trouble that we experienced. I guess it’s akin to not blaming a petulant child for her actions…she is only as good, or as bad, as her history. I think she does her best, but expects a lot; is unconventional, but wants to please; is wanting, and wanted.

I left saying I would never return, but I don’t say that anymore. The country has an un-describable hold over me that I can’t deny. I will be lucky if there ever is a next time, but I will approach it with caution and respect taking the lessons learned from this time and apply them wholly and thoughtfully.