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Every Time I Look At My Children I See My Shame

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I had just completed senior high school when Manuel came into my life. He was not the first man to show interest in me but he was the first who caught my eye. Unlike the others who aggressively thirsted after me, this one was different. He was calm when he told me he loved me. And he was gentle the first time he took my hand in his. Everything about him screamed protector. That’s why I felt safe with him.

I trusted Manuel with all my heart. I agreed to be his girlfriend and said yes to everything he demanded from me. I never shied away from his touch or turned away from his kiss. When he whispered sweet nothings into my ears, I blushed and giggled like the teenage girl I was. Because he earned my trust, I didn’t turn him down when he asked to thrust into me. Our love was as sweet as fresh palm wine.

I was so sure that we would spend the rest of our lives together. That’s why when I found out I was pregnant I comforted myself saying, “Manuel loves me. We will have this baby together and then get married.” I had to learn the hard way that playing out someone’s reaction in your head does not manifest that reaction into reality. Unlike what I had dreamed, Manuel asked me to get rid of the pregnancy.

We are too young to take on such a big responsibility. Let’s get rid of it so we don’t force adulthood upon ourselves before we are ready,” he said. I couldn’t imagine myself doing such a thing so I refused. He couldn’t force me, thus, we kept the baby. He stuck around until after the baby arrived. When we were having the naming ceremony he was right there beside me.

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I was happy that my refusal to get rid of the pregnancy didn’t change anything between us. However, I found out later that my happiness was premature. Unbeknownst to me, this guy was waiting for all the necessary things to be done.

As soon after the naming ceremony was held, he left me. My family was gravely disappointed but they did well not to take it out on me. When the baby grew older, my mum took him in and sent me back to school to further my education. I promised her I would graduate, get a good job, and let a man marry me the proper way so I would erase the shame of the first relationship.

I was well on my way to fulfilling this promise when Marley crossed my path. I was in level 200 in school then. He was a colleague. When he started getting close to me, I let him. I saw that he was a good guy. When he asked me to be his girlfriend, I told him my story. The story of how I gave all my trust to a man only to end up a single mother. Marley swore he was a better man than Manuel.

I promise you, I will marry after school.” There was a sincerity with which he spoke. I couldn’t not believe him. We dated and completed school without having sex. When he was ready for marriage he asked me, “When are you taking me home to meet your people? I am ready to do what is required to claim you as my wife.

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I held his hand and took him to my family. He performed the knocking rites and an official introduction was done. When they gave him the marriage list I told him, “We are partners in this so I will help you buy the items on the list.

This guy turned down my offer. “I am the man. I am about to marry you. So I am going to buy every item on the list without your help.” What choice did I have but to say okay? A few months later, this guy announced that he bought all the items on the marriage list. He wouldn’t let me see them because it wasn’t customary. That was what he said. He proposed that I get pregnant.

That way we would combine the naming ceremony and the marriage ceremony together. Everything looked good and sounded true. Maybe I am just too trusting. Long story short, I agreed and we got pregnant. It was when I was six months into the pregnancy that I found out he didn’t buy even one scarf on the list. Not a single item.

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Although I was upset, I continued to be with him. I was with him for seven years hoping we would eventually get married. But it didn’t happen. Along the line, he said the relationship was no longer working for him, and that he had to move on. He did not fulfill his promise. Which means I now have two children with different fathers.

This is not the life I envisioned for myself. I see them and feel like a failure. I feel ashamed that I have children with different men. Sometimes I want to erase what has happened. I want to give something to the children to unalive them. Then I will consume the same poison myself so we will all be gone. I don’t want to live with myself and the reminders of my shame. Please, I need someone to talk me out of this.

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