I was the beneficiary of dumb luck.

By Jeremy, an Ex-Christian Scientist Group contributor.

None of us who grew up in loving homes with parents who cared deeply about us ever wants to admit that perhaps our parents didn’t do everything right, and perhaps, just perhaps, they neglected their duty to properly care for us in some very terrible ways, even if they had no malicious intent, and genuinely thought they were doing the best for us. Such is the case with me as I recall some of my early brushes with childhood illness.

I remember two instances when I was in first, and then second grades, where I suffered at length from a painful, hacking cough, and I was home sick from school for around a week or two each time. Since my parents were Christian Scientists, I was not taken to the doctor, so I was never diagnosed, although I now suspect it was either bronchitis, pneumonia, or most likely pertussis. No relief other than prayer, hot lemonade, and the singing of Christian Science hymns was offered. Fortunately, I recovered. In later years, my dad confided to me that he and Mom had been concerned enough about my condition to seriously consider taking me to a doctor. In retrospect, I wish they had. I may not have suffered as I did, as simple antibiotics may have cleared things up quickly.

I also recall several bouts with excruciatingly painful earaches between the ages of approximately six until around ten years of age. I was never taken to a doctor, where the pain could have been quickly abated and the infection properly treated with antibiotics. No, I was made to listen to a Christian Science practitioner, who tried to assure me that as ‘God’s perfect child’, the earache was an unreal ‘illusion’, or some such esoteric Christian Science crap.

I consider myself extremely fortunate to have survived my childhood with, as far as I can tell, few if any lasting physical effects directly attributable to lack of proper medical care. While the devout Christian Scientist would say I was ‘protected’, I think I was just the beneficiary of dumb luck.

About a year ago, I related these childhood experiences to a friend of mine who is a retired trauma counselor. She is a survivor of childhood abuse, and is also a cancer survivor. When I told her that I had never seen a doctor as a child, even for these conditions, she was shocked. She bluntly told me, “You were neglected.” I had to let that sink in for a while. While I realized my parents had no malicious intent, and my friend emphasized that, the glaring fact was that they neglected to give me the physical care I needed at the time. Most of us who grew up in Christian Science were neglected in exactly the same way. We’re all survivors, and in some cases, damn lucky to still be alive.

6 comments

  • Anfaani

    Are there support groups for this? I have to acknowledge the same kind of experiences and I have shut out most of my childhood and teenage years die to being subjected to this practice. I left the church at 18, and started going to s Baptist Church although I got a lot of pushback from home. I had a car so I went to church where I chose and never looked back.
    I’m angry and resentful at my mom for neglecting my health. I suffered a lot, needlessly and didn’t understand why. I don’t discuss my health with her and keep her at a distance because I resent her so much for what she did. Sometimes I feel that I hate her. I know that is wrong. What can I do? She still believes in that religion. I burned up the books I was forced to read and only read the Bible.

  • Jeremy, I am glad you made it out alive, even if it was sheer, dumb, luck. I feel the same way about me. I was lucky. I come from healthy stock. Not everyone is that lucky.

    I told my psychiatrist the way my dad was treated by his wife, when he had Parkinson’s disease. She looked at me, point blank, and said, “that’s elder abuse.” I had no emotion. I am sure I gave her a blank stare. I had no clue how to reply to this sort of thing. She said, “how does it make you feel when you hear that your amazing dad was subjected to elder abuse?” I said, “I don’t know.” I think I was in disbelief. How could it have been abuse? The care he got was considered “normal” in our house: completely ignore people when they aren’t feeling well.

    My dad wasn’t feeling well … for more than 2 decades. His hands were black and so many of his teeth fell out because he could no longer brush them, and his wife sure wasn’t doing. He fell every time he stood up.

    She said, “if someone told me that about my kind, sweet, amazing dad, it would make me feel sad.”

    I said, “I do feel sad!” And I started sobbing.

    It opened up my eyes to so much of what I endured growing up. No tender care. No material remedies. Just being ignored and yelled at when I was sick and already not feeling well. Then told to stop crying and be grateful. It’s just – bizarre. I would NEVER treat my kids that way. When they are sick or bleeding or even just stub their toe, I make sure to listen and look and assess how bad it is, and make a decision on whether I think we need a visit to the doctor. I think I’m getting much better now, at deciding when to go to doctors. So we don’t run for every little thing anymore, like I had us do when I first left Christian Science and had no-one to guide me when to go or not go about something.

  • Wendy R

    The thing is, I’m not sure if I grew up in a loving home. While my parents talked a lot about love, I have precious few recollections of feeling that “love” . I grew up in a household that discouraged physical demonstrations of love like hugging, cuddling or even the comfort of an arm around my shoulder. When I complained about this, reaching out for physical contact, I was told to look at love in action as it was all around me. What does that mean to a young child?
    I realize now that in my teenage years I used my boyfriends to fulfill the very human need of physical contact. While never promiscuous, I always had a boyfriend on my arm; and always one who hugged, cuddled and held hands with me. I also was quick to get married right after high school finished. The marriage didn’t last and as my life spiralled down a big black hole. I eventually left CS. I’m still climbing out of the hole. Sometimes I slip backwards but now it is always temporary.
    Sadly, my parents likely did love me and were doing their CS best. I just shake my head.

    • Chris

      Hi, Wendy: You were really in touch with what you needed as a child. I’m glad that you were able to realize it through the arms and hugs you received from your boyfriends as a teenager. You had a right to receive it as a child. You shouldn’t have needed to ask for it. And when you did, your parents handed you some esoteric C.S. hooey.

      The need for human touch, human contact, is so essential to people, not only as they grow up, but all during their lives. Studies have proven that. Christian Science teaches you that you are supposed to be in some kind of war with the senses. Not only foolish, but hurtful. You can even see the need that animals have for contact. It’s the reason a cat will brush up against your leg. It wants to be petted.

      I’m sorry that your marriage didn’t last. Perhaps entered into because you weren’t getting the natural human warmth you were denied at home. You’re not alone. There was not a whole lot of love in my home as I was growing up, either.

      Your life doesn’t have to continue to slip backward. There is help available. This site has really helped me. You don’t need to slip backward into Christian Science. It may seem like assurance when you slip back, but it’s cold assurance.

      You can move forward, be who you are, and, with help, live the life you were meant to live.

  • CS crazy sauce

    CS should be illegal. CS like Roman Catholicism has put itself above the law whereby the consequences for wrong doing or bad practice is rarely known until much later after the damages have been done. I just read of a 57 year old CS teacher that just died. The death, dying prematurely it seems is a far greater number than the healings. What if their was a monthly journal of CS mishaps, tragedies, deaths etc..? It would seem to me that CS is really a medical system in a sense without any regulations or penalties for faulty practice. Mrs. Eddy married Asa Eddy and lied on her marriage certificate. Asa Eddy had a bad heart and Mrs. Eddy said she and CS healed him and 5 years later he was dead (heart) and she sued someone for malpractice saying that persons bad thoughts killed her husband.

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