My Divorce: Stephen. “My ex falsely accused me of child abuse and violence.”

It's 20 years since Ireland voted for divorce. An Irish Times series, Divorced Ireland, explores the effects of that vote on Irish life. The following is one of several personal stories sent to us as part of the series. To read the full series click here

I have tried to write this piece three or four times, but I keep getting bogged down in the nitty-gritty. Truth be told, how we got here is immaterial; as the politicians say, “ We are where we are”.

"Where we are" is that after nine years of separation, I still feel as if I am in limbo. The breakup of my marriage left me broken. I suffered from depression and briefly turned to alcohol. I suffered from anxiety, feeling like everyone was talking about me and judging me; in order to get a favourable separation agreement, my ex falsely accused me of child abuse and domestic violence (that happens) and I imagined that everyone thought that I was a paedophile and a wife batterer. I thought of suicide and actually wrote the note. Silly, I know. Nonetheless, a barring order was issued against me and I left home with a suitcase and two black plastic sacks for my possessions.

Since the breakup, I have been unable to have a relationship. I was going out with a girl for a while, shortly after the breakup (classic rebound stuff), but at the back of my mind I felt that it was only a matter of time before she too broke my heart and left me shattered. I suppose, to be in some sort of control I broke up with her. I have been single since. I get very lonely, at times. I feel that I have a lot to give and that I would make a really good partner, but then there's "the fear"! A debilitating terror of having my heart broken again, how could I trust another woman? How could I trust myself? Why would someone want to go out with me?

There are pluses and minuses. On the plus side, my children are my life. We are incredibly close and they now live with me; my ex moved away. On the minus side, my name wasn't taken off the mortgage of the family home and repayments weren't made, so the bank want my head on a spike outside the city walls. On the plus side, I have gotten my life back on track and, funnily enough, at times, I feel like I did before I got married. On the minus side, I still suffer from bouts of depression.

The breakup of a marriage is very difficult. However, if there is any way a couple can see past the anger and the fear, and sort out their differences amicably, with as little to do with our adversarial system as possible, that would be best for all. Too often it comes down to money, houses, possessions, but that's just "stuff and things"; the people involved generally get hurt and no one wins. In a nutshell, it's called a break-up because it was broken. Be mature, treat each other with dignity, get through as fast as you can and get on with your lives. Not easy.

The writer’s name has been changed.