By Susanna, an Ex-Christian Scientist Group contributor. Susanna is a pseudonym, to ensure anonymity.
As I’ve grown into adulthood and approached mid-life and motherhood, I have become much clearer on how my Christian Science upbringing has shaped my feelings about myself, my body, and my sense of self-reliance and trust.
It started when I realized how deep my denial was when something seemed wrong with me, either emotionally or physically. How I stuffed it back down, lied about it, felt ashamed, and couldn’t even talk to my family about it. Then, I thought about the silence on the other end of the phone when I mentioned to a Christian Scientist relative that I wasn’t feeling well, or that I’d had a falling out with a friend, or even that I had a leaky pipe or car trouble. Anything that was less than perfect just wasn’t acknowledged, and I could feel the unspoken accusations: “If you would just pray about it…” I knew that my family had struggles of their own, but that they hid them from me and suffered the same guilt and isolation that I did.
I’m conflicted because I feel sympathy for people still caught in the web of Christian Science thought. It alienates them from human emotions, life experiences, and their bodies. I want to help them and I hope that this project reaches them. Over my first 30 years of life, I came to associate illness with shame and failure, and to feel betrayed by my body when it didn’t live up to perfection.
But, I’ve learned that when I am anxious, usually it’s my body telling me that I need to get something done, or work something out, or let go of something that I’m hanging on to unnecessarily. Instead of stuffing it down, or feeling ashamed, I listen to it and address whatever needs addressing. Sometimes it’s taking it easy for a few days, or making sure I eat well and exercise and take care of myself, or spending some time with my husband or a good friend. I’m not angry at my body for not being perfect. I love it and what it does for me. I love myself and the people around me who love me and take care of me. I let them take care of me.
Things aren’t perfect, and never will be, and it is okay. Though I wish I could help my parents out of this prison of perfection.
This site offers support resources to help individuals negotiate a transition in a manner that best fits their needs and convictions. We do not advocate any one particular path but acknowledge that there are many legitimate pathways that can be personally and spiritually fulfilling.