Wanjiru Muroki was a young and naive 17-year-old girl when she got pregnant in 2012.
“I was in Form Four and had just sat my Kenya Certificate of Secondary Examinations (KCSE), and the results were out. Unfortunately, I had not performed as well as I had expected and decided to re-sit the exams the following year,” she continues.
Her parents enrolled her in another school to enable her pursue her education.
“However, I realised I was pregnant when I was joining my new school. It had been my first time having sex then boom! I had conceived. The man responsible for my pregnancy was my youth chairman in church and was nine years my senior,” explains Wanjiru.
“My mum found out I was pregnant when I came for mid-term during the second term.
I managed to hide the pregnancy in school until we sat for our end of second term examinations when it became too evident to hide,” narrates Wanjiru.
Apart from her mother, she never disclosed the news to anyone else including her two aunts who worked at her school.
“My legs were swollen and I was always in slippers. I was forced to keep inflicting injuries on my leg to justify why I had to wear slippers at school,” says Wanjiru.
“When schools closed for the August holidays, my heart was in turmoil. How would I break the news to my dad, who was a staunch Christian?
Dad was the kind of man who would beat you for missing church or failing to listen to the sermon,” she explains.
Wanjiru gave her pastor the assignment of breaking the news to her dad, who though stressed at first, accepted his daughter.
Her due date came two weeks earlier than expected. Her baby was born on October 30, while she was in the middle of her KCSE examinations.
“I had a Biology practical paper on November 2, which I revised for as I breastfed my newborn baby.”
Wanjiru left her baby in her mother’s care and had to commute to school daily to sit for her exams.
“My son’s father never showed up or picked up my phone calls and I had to borrow money to buy diapers and pads from my dad,” she explains.
About a month later, her son’s father showed up with shopping. However, he was not consistent and would go silent for months and when she tried reaching him for help, he always had excuses.
“I cut ties with him in 2017,” she says. Her parents helped her raise the boy who’s now turning seven.
“I feel like revenging at times. I feel my son’s daddy took advantage of me when I was young and innocent,” she says.
“Can I forgive him? It’s not easy,” she says. The healing journey has not been easy either for Wanjiru but it has started.
“I was so bitter two years ago but I’m letting go slowly by slowly. I did not go for counselling but I started by forgiving myself,” she says.
Wanjiru says she finds it hard to forgive her son’s child because he absconded his parental responsibilities yet he is working while she just completed college.
Can one be healed of the pain of abandonment from a loved one?
When ‘happily ever after’ turns into a nightmare and the man who promised you forever abandons you and his offspring, a woman can be left nursing deep wounds of anger and bitterness.
Dr Margaret Kagwe, a counselling psychologist and senior consultant at Esteem Counselling Services based in Nairobi answers some of your questions about the emotional healing journey.
When a relationship crumbles, what’s the first course of action?
The first step is to mourn your loss. Just like with any loss, a relationship involves a lot of emotional investment and processing the loss is the only way of healing in order to move on.
How does a woman get past the anger and bitterness that comes after the father of her child walks out on her?
The process of grief involves resolving anger and bitterness that may result from the loss.
In order to overcome the anger and bitterness it is paramount that you identify what you are angry about… is it being alone, is it that the partner appears to be doing well, is it because you feel like you lost a battle?
If the relationship was not working, then why the anger? Exploring the source of anger helps in determining how to deal with it.
What if one has tried moving on including counselling and the emotions are still raw and she’s still hurting, what do you suggest she does?
When counselling does not seem to work, it is an indication that maybe the issues addressed were not the ones responsible for the anger and bitterness.
During therapy, if one is not very honest or is ashamed of their true feelings, it is possible to leave some unresolved issues which continue to hurt even after therapy. Anger and bitterness are signs that healing is not complete and the issue should be revisited to ensure healing occurs.
“Every time I think about him, I feel like avenging because I feel he took advantage of me and dumped me”. How would you advice her?
When you feel like avenging and you feel like he took advantage of you, you need to explore the role you played in the whole process.
Were you an equal partner in the relationship or were you a weaker partner? Were there any red flags you missed because you either trusted too much or you had needs you wanted met? When your attachment style is dysfunctional, you can even scare your partner away.
As much as you analyse your partner’s faults, also point out your own. That way you are able to apportion blame fairly and it helps in the healing process.
“I’m bitter because he’s working and has refused to help me raise our child”. How does she handle her feelings and situation?
Regardless of the source, bitterness is a sign of inner wounds that are not healed. It is easy to blame lack of support for such bitterness. Working on yourself to determine the source of bitterness would be the best approach.
Letting go helps in repackaging self afresh and also gives you freedom to rediscover yourself. Legal procedures can be used to ensure the child is supported but it is necessary to weigh costs and benefits of the process depending on your financial position.
If malice is involved in the process of seeking child support, then healing has not taken place.
“Every time I look at my child, she reminds me of her father, whom I now hate because he abandoned us”. How can she deal with this?
Hate is not an outcome of processed grief. It is a sign of inability to resolve your emotions. Your daughter is an outcome of the choice you and your partner made unless you were sexually assaulted.
She is an individual with her own outlook on life and needs. Rather than being a reminder of the past which she did not help create, she should be nurtured to be the best she can. To offer her the best parenting experience, you need to urgently work on your inner person and get rid of the hate.
“It kills me because he moved on with another woman whose children he raises but has refused to raise ours”. How can she deal?
The choices your former partner makes are his business and the sooner you engage yourself with positive and fruitful social connections the better for your wellness. If you keep watching his every move, then you surrender to him your happiness and freedom. His decisions may appear flawed to you but that remains your view. Investing your energy to raise your children and making up for what they do not get from their father would add great value to your family.
“I want to move on but every time I see him doing well and looking good on social media, my heart sinks and the pain comes back afresh. Will this pain ever go away?”
It is normal to feel such pain, especially if you had invested a lot of time and emotions. You feel like you ought to be in their future but you are locked out. However, if you work on yourself and your career to succeed and look good, you become the object of envy not the vice versa.
You should not remain where he left you in the relationship but you should endeavour to improve yourself at every level. You can only achieve that by focusing on tasks at hand than stalking him on social media or social events.