TBT: Gems from Christine’s Story – No, You do Not Have a Bad Omen

Two years ago, I met a woman in Nairobi, Kenya named Christine Khatima. I had interviewed her a few months prior for a story for TWSC and meeting her in person was an honour. She is hands down one of the strongest women I have met and she doesn’t look like any of the trauma she has been through.

  • Her mother left when she was five
  • She was rebuked and ostracized when she began menstruating
  • Was sexually abused and became pregnant at 13
  • Lived on the street while pregnant and after her baby was born

It’s hard to imagine one person enduring so much.

When we first connected, I remember listening to Christine tell me about her experience with menstruation and being very baffled by how she was treated despite her body performing a very normal function. Everyone knows that women menstruate, so why in the world would the adults in her life chastise her for this?

“I looked at myself as a bad person who had a bad omen.”

Christine Khatima

Imagine what it must have felt like for 10-year-old Christine, having to figure out how to care for herself during her period with no access to sanitary products. She was shamed and mistreated for something normal.

Christine chalked it up to something being wrong with her. There were people around her who could have set her free from this emotional anguish but chose not to. The emotional trauma surrounding her menstruation could have been avoided if just one of the women in her life chose to help her.

It’s normal…

Today as I reflect on her story, I think about how often times women experience normal emotions but are often rebuked for expressing them. Think about the number of times you have heard someone say, ‘Don’t be upset,’ after doing something upsetting. In a way, that subtly communicated to you that it is not OK to be upset, and yet it is a normal emotion. The larger conversation should be about actions not emotions. The feeling is not bad, it’s what you do with it that counts.

One of the reasons why I am so passionate about women sharing our stories is because I know how damaging it can be to think you are the only one going through something. Christine’s story is an example of that.

“Many times I wondered why did it have to happen to me. Why did I have to be the person in the family who had a bleeding problem?

Christine Khatima

She didn’t know at the time that every woman in her family experienced the same thing. When we don’t share our experiences or stories, the next woman suffers. Our silence traps her in a cage of shame.

The bottom line

On a larger scale, I think people fear that normalizing something means you are promoting it. In my opinion, one of the reasons why many churches do not have ministries for single parents or divorcees is because they fear that offering that kind of support means they are endorsing single parenthood and divorce. So there isn’t a safe space to discuss the normal emotions associated with either of these issues, and yet many people in the church are single parents or divorced. It is that lack of support that often drives people away from church.

What I have come to learn is that most of what happens to us is not about us at all; but we often carry the shame of it. I want to remind you today that you do not have a bad omen.

We have the power to free another woman from shame when we share our own experiences and remind her that she is not alone and that her emotions are valid.

If you missed Christine’s story, read it below and let us know your thoughts!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.