Christine Kinyua, 44, has endured emotional abuse, survived a brain tumour, and had a taste of true love, though short-lived. A nurse by profession, she felt the need to run away from heartbreak, negative energy and anything that threatened her peace of mind. She tells her story to Soni Kanake.
"My name is Christine Kinyua, a mother of two and a nurse at MP Shah Hospital, Nairobi. Today, I can confidently say life is good after having navigated several curveballs and healed of the emotional wounds I had sustained along the way.
I got married to a man who accepted my daughter and being young, I figured I had the whole world ahead of me to enjoy life. I was working in Rwanda but my husband and I always made time for each other as I would visit or he would come over.
However, he fell into the habit of always putting me down. He would tell me that I wasn't a good mother and that my daughter had picked negative traits from me. This continued emotional bashing was slowly destroying my soul but at the time all I wanted was for my marriage to work.
REALLY BAD TIMES
We had good times and really bad times. I frequently called home, especially to monitor my daughter's progress who was in the care of her step-dad and nanny. However, I started getting suspicious when I noticed that every evening I called my husband, he would tell me that 'we' are watching movies. Hmmm … Alarm bells went off; I knew my daughter was asleep so it dawned on me that he usually sat up late with the nanny watching movies.
My sixth sense told me there was trouble in paradise but I didn't pay it much heed. One day during my visits to Kenya, we were chatting with the house-help when she received a message on her phone from my husband who wanted her to take his suits to the dry-cleaners. So she was shamelessly asking me to get her my husband's suits from our bedroom. I was heartbroken and wondered why he could not text me instead. I could not help but wonder what else he was hiding from me.
Our relationship was punctuated with accusations and counter-accusations. Every time I was around, there was a fight about a certain girl or suggestive late-night texts. I also realised he did not want people to know he was married because when we went to church, his friends were shocked he had a wife. It wasn't all gloom as we got our son in 2009.
We were also keen on saving as a family and I would send him $1,000 (Approxmately Sh80,000) every month for our kitty. I remember once while he was in Kigali I asked him how much we had saved. He stammered and was not forthright and up until today I have no idea what happened to about Sh860,000 I had sent him. My heart sunk and I realised he was not only abusing me emotionally but financially as well. When I think about it today, I never got a coin from a chicken project I had financed back home.
Before I met him, he had accumulated debt on his credit card but did not mention it. One day while I was in Rwanda, he sent me a text message claiming that he needed a loan for a certain project that was to benefit us as a family. He wanted Sh80,000 and since I hadn't been paid, I was a bit hesitant. He became manipulative telling me to stay with my money.
I loved him too much and money was not going to come in between us so after payday, I wired him Sh100,000 only for him to confess later that the money was for his credit card. This new level of betrayal pierced my heart like a sword and I cried until my colleagues thought I had lost someone back home. The pain was surreal. How could he do this to me? I kept asking myself over and over again.
I relocated to Kenya in 2011 but working on our marriage was proving futile as there was always something to fight about. I had opened a clinic but it wasn't doing too well. Meanwhile, I was getting stressed, which was compounded by a nagging headache that was not responding to painkillers.
I sought medical attention but to no avail until one day I decided to have an MRI on my own volition without a doctor's prescription. The results were shocking as they revealed that I had a meningioma (brain tumour) that needed to be removed. Thankfully it was benign and I had a successful surgery late 2015.
Sometimes you have to run to survive and that was what I did when I realised my marriage wasn't working. I decided it was enough and it was time to walk away.
The emotional pain was too much to bear and left me yearning for a place to call home; a place to belong. I remember running from church to church in a bid to find solace. I tried running to the pubs too but the wine did not bring that sense of fulfilment and peace my troubled soul was seeking. I ended up in my sister's house and stayed with her until I was back on my feet again.
My daughter was already in boarding school and she did not see me going through the anguish. I remember my friends pushing me to sue my now ex-husband for child support but I did not want to. What if he refused to honour the court orders and I had to keep chasing him to pay up? To save my heart from such agony, I chose to let him be.
On the other hand, he still kept tabs on my life. He would visit while I was away and tell the house-girl to inform him on my daily activities. He would write me insulting text messages which I would return with a double dose of hatred until I realised it was draining me emotionally and stopped responding to him.
I had to dig an imaginary grave and bury him so as to move on. I had to forget he existed and realise that my children depended on me. My healing journey was not easy but I was lucky to have understanding and non-judgmental friends who made it easier.
I have documented my life story in a book, Nurse on the Run, which is in book stores, as a way of healing and also to encourage a woman going through what I did.
I found love in February 2017 but unfortunately he was snatched away from me by death in barely a year. He became terminally ill and I was there for him every day until he breathed his last. I guess some things are just kept as memories.