Wednesday 19 June 2019

'I felt alone and worthless' - Irish author John Boyne on 'long, dark nights for the soul' and suicide attempt after break-up

John Boyne
John Boyne
Kathy Armstrong

Kathy Armstrong

Acclaimed Irish author John Boyne has opened up about how he attempted to take his own life following the breakdown of his marriage.

'The Boy In The Striped Pajamas' author has spoken candidly about how he felt "worthless" and "alone" in the aftermath of the breakdown.

Boyne (47) was speaking to Brendan O'Connor on The Marian Finucane Show on RTÉ Radio One this morning about his new book, 'A Ladder to the Sky'.

The Dubliner said: "I was in a relationship for eleven years, it ended two years ago and the last two years while I've been writing this book I've thinking about my life and everything that led to the break up.

"As time passes you start to analyse it more and more deeply.

"My husband was not particularly interested in books, that's fine he doesn't have to be, he isn't obliged to be, so he wasn't into books or going to literary events.

"Moving forward, if I was to meet someone again the one prerequisite would be that they would have to be into books, I like to read and write and that's a big part of me."

The 47-year-old author became emotional as he recalled how hard the break-up hit him and led him to attempt suicide.

"I didn't really see it coming, like any relationship there were ups and downs, good moments and bad moments, but I was under the impression that we were 99 per cent solid.

"We had just come back from a fantastic trip to Australia and it was only a few weeks after we got back that he said he didn't want to be in this relationship any longer.

"In truth I haven't handled this brilliantly over the last couple of years, if I'm honest.

"I have veered between great pain, great sadness, brutal fury at times, I ended up in hospital at one point - I took too many pills at one point, I decided to do that.

"I haven't really talked about this before but it was one of those long, dark nights for the soul, everything really had just caught up with me. I knew my ex was seeing someone else and I felt there was no way back, I was absolutely distraught.

"I loved him deeply, I still do very deeply, I felt very worthless and very alone and nothing else just seemed to matter without him there beside me," he said.

Boyne continued to say that the experience has changed him and he is still trying to piece things back together.

He explained: "It was probably not that serious in the sense that with everything I took I was phoning an ambulance within half an hour, so maybe subconsciously it was more of a cry for help, I ended up in hospital and it took a long time.

"I'm sure a lot of people will have had moments like that or experiences like that and you don't go through something like that without it changing you in some deep way.

"It made me feel very worthless when it happened, I still kind of feel that way, because he wasn't there even when it happened.

"That every moment of eleven years when you give them love and then when you're going through this most terrible thing, where you're lying in a hospital bed and you call him and he says he's not going to come.

"He was probably right not to come though, I'm not going to lie, I've probably been a complete nightmare but if I was a nightmare it's because I married somebody who I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.

He continued to say that he does not want to feel bitter about his ex.

"I was probably a nightmare, I'm sure he has reasons, I'm not the easiest person to live with and I'm sure I'm a terrible monster at home some of the time...

"I'm trying to move past anger toward acceptance and see something positive in the future.

"In fact those eleven years were filled with a lot of happiness with a really decent person who treated me very kindly through most of that time."

He added: "I guess I just miss him, I hope I don't across as sounding horrendous but I think it's just raw at the moment because the actual dissolution of the divorce is coming through in the next couple of weeks, so it's very much on my brain.

  • If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article please contact Samaritans helpline 116 123 or Aware helpline 1800 80 48 48 or Pieta House on 1800 247 247.

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