The following musings on Mother’s Day have been submitted by an anonymous Ex-Christian Scientist Group contributor. This is part 2 of 2, part 1 was shared on May 14, 2017.
A few years ago, I walked away from my bio mom. It has been a painful but necessary thing to do for my own peace. I could no longer handle the verbal abuse, and the pain I felt after any contact with her affected my ability to be a good mom for days and days until I could get over it. This year, I walked away from my ex step mom, too. I have been reading a book about codependency by Melody Beattie, and I am finding that it defines the relationship I had with my ex stepmom to a “T.”
I worked and worked for a perfectionistic stepmom who hated me, even though she truly believes that she loves me. She thinks she is expressing love. If I ever told her, “your attitude or behavior is hurting me,” she turned into a crying mess for at least 45 minutes, then would bring up her own pain for almost 2 months or even longer. “No one else has ever given me feedback like that,” she has said on at least two occasions. That does not make my own pain invalid. My pain is valid.
Before she even met me, I am certain she thought I was an evil child and that she had to basically drive the devil out of me. No matter what I said, she was always right and I was always wrong. She taught me to smile no matter what. She taught me never contradict her. She slapped me if I contradicted her. But she could contradict me whenever she pleased. It didn’t matter how petty something was, she contradicted me about it mercilessly. She also gaslighted me. Constantly. It’s a Christian Science thing. Telling people they are well even when they are not. It’s constant. This is crazy making behavior.
Christian Scientists consistently believe they are happy and being loving even when it’s clear their entire demeanor is filled with rage. They deny their own rage. They have no word for it. How can you see something you don’t have a word for?
Healthy, well balanced, normal people do not do something and call it “loving” when it’s done with rage. But, you see, in Christian Science, there is no anger. No “negative” emotions are allowed. Ever. They can’t possibly believe they are angry. To paraphrase a new popular skit: “They can only be happy. They can only be smiling. No one — no one can be sad!”
I am so grateful to say that both times I have had to walk away from an abusive mother figure of mine, the Ex Christian Science forum on Facebook has been there with me. I feel sad that too many people relate to what I say and share. These kind people applaud me for taking steps out of bad relationships. I am finally learning I can be 100% honest with myself about real reality. If something is a spade, call it a spade. If it’s bad, call it bad. Name it. Do something about it. Sitting in your room with your hands folded in your lap and thinking good happy thoughts are not going to change anything. How does that popular saying go? “You can’t change other people, you can only change yourself.” I can’t change my step-mom, but I can change my life and not have her in it.
Now, to my own experience as a mom. My step mom constantly told me growing up that I would be a rotten mother. She taught me by example that in order to be a good mom, you need to be controlling. Don’t let a child get away with anything. Make them earn all their fun time. Make them earn playdates with friends. Make them earn toys, tv time, and for god’s sake, don’t ever let them watch more than 2 hours of tv per week. Unless, of course, step mom wants to. Then, of course, you can watch what she wants to.
Force them to spend every waking moment in activities they don’t even enjoy most of the time. “It’s good for them, and it’s how to produce a happy child.” No it’s not. It’s how to produce a mixed up and confused adult who doesn’t even know what they like and dislike, because all of the joy in life has been completely sucked out of them, and getting out of bed every day has become a chore instead of a – gosh – I don’t even know what it should be. I am told that so many people greet each new day as a gift. I’m working on it.
This woman also sucked all the joy out of eating for me. Eating was a chore to be done. Christian Science also teaches “there is no pleasure in matter,” and “the five senses don’t exist.” Thus, no pleasure in eating can be noted, either.
This woman forced me to eat foods I couldn’t stand. Every day. For every meal. I had no choice. I had no input. It has taken me decades to learn that there are a few foods that I can’t stand and also have allergies to. But I was never given a choice.
True story: One time, I had to eat food that I had thrown in the trash can because I so desperately didn’t want to eat it and wasn’t hungry for it. But I had to earn a play date, so I ate the food because I so rarely had a friend over, so I ate the sandwich out of the garbage, despite truly not wanting to eat at all.
With all the people I have known who grew up with a Christian Science mom, I have heard of less than a handful that were kind. These people are horrified at what the rest of us vocalize about our Christian Science moms. They are horrified. So many of us are estranged from our moms. Too many on the forum are watching their CS parent die a painful death while refusing medical care for simple things.
I am now a mom of my own children. The mom figures in my life taught me to be controlling and spank and punish. I was a horrible mom to my sweet children, one of whom is a special needs child. Christian Science told me only to pray about healing his special needs. It never helped me understand him.
After I left Christian Science, I learned that the merciful thing to do was to get him extensively tested by a psychiatrist. Therapy and psychiatric help are both strictly forbidden in Christian Science. Going to someone like this makes a “problem” more real. The psychiatrist told me the ways my son’s brain processes things. Now that I understand my son, I am a much better mom, and he is so much happier. We no longer try to control him and force him to do things like I had been taught to do. My son is starting to thrive now.
I have told things to my therapist that my step mom or a grandmother did to me, and she has looked at me and point blank said: “would YOU do that to YOUR child?” And I just break down, sobbing. “No way. I would NEVER do that to my child!”
It’s heart-breaking to think that Christian Science teaches women to be horrible moms. They take so much pride in being “perfect” that they miss the “good enough” in their own children. There is no allowance for being simply human. Because “matter isn’t real, therefore, humanity is definitely not real either.” Deny basic humanity, deny emotions, deny pain.
A person has been completely brain-washed to be able to spank their own child and then proclaim, “there is no sensation in matter!” Why spank them in the first place then? I believe as generations raised the next generation, things got worse and worse. Last week, my psychiatrist said to me, “I should stop being shocked at all that your step-mom subjected you to; it shouldn’t shock me anymore based on everything else I have heard!” Wow.
Sadly, the best way I have learned to be a mom is “to do the exact opposite of what BOTH of my moms would do.”
I am so glad to have broken away so I can now be a good and kind mom. This past week, I decided to be happy with the fact that my family loves to hang out together in the same room of our home, every day. We relax and feel safe, peaceful and loved as we hang out with each other. If someone is having a rough time (perhaps with a friend or a school assignment or a schedule issue), we just “sit beside” the person and support them the best we can, while validating their struggle, and letting them know “I am here, we are here with each other.” My children and my husband and I all feel safe at home.
I am learning that both of these mom figures in my life are narcissists. One thing a child of a narcissist learns is that they are only valued for “what they do” and not “who they are.” I am starting to glimpse what it’s like to be valued for who I am as a mom (kind, funny, playful, creative), and not for what I do (dishes and decorations and cleaning).
This year, for Mother’s Day, I will not be wishing either of my own moms a happy Mother’s Day. I don’t give two hoots about my own mother’s day. Every day, for me, is mother’s day. My kids love me, talk to me, hug me, tell jokes with me. They also tell me their secrets and ask me for help and support. They work hard, they do what I ask when I ask them. I don’t have to bully them. I celebrate them being in my life every day. I constantly tell them: “thank you for being in my life.”
By the way, I never planned to be a mom either. I know a few Ex Christian Science women who have no intention to ever become a mom. I believe in my own heart, that this is because they don’t want to inflict another victim with the pain that they themselves went through. Bravo to these brave women for knowing where to draw the line, and stop the abuse. It breaks my heart when well intentioned people judge them for not wanting to be a mom. They make their own choice. Leave them be. As the current saying goes: “you do you.”
I do want to share a few good things; because I feel like a lotus flower these days: from the mud, something beautiful blooms.
A few years ago a brand new friend of mine was extraordinarily kind to me. She has been the most kind mother figure to me that I have ever known. One day, my teenager randomly said to me: “what if she could have been your mom?” This made me weep. I would have loved to have this woman as my mom. She is just kind and gentle; she is smart and funny; she is compassionate, out-going, caring, and she just wants the best for everyone she has ever met. I am so grateful to count her as one of my best friends.
Also, the first therapist I went to is a mom of a teenage girl. She is a kind and empathetic person. She is funny and smart. I now go to a psychiatrist, who is also a mom of two gals. I can tell that she is also an extraordinary mom. Both of these professionals in my life assure me that my mom-skills are great, and that I am doing fine. One told me, “if you’re worried that you’re not a good mom, that means you ARE one.” I have been replaying this in my head now for several years and I am finally starting to feel like maybe I am a pretty good mom. I sure try darn hard at it.
Happy Mother’s Day to all of you who celebrate. I hope that if you have kids, you are a kind parent. I hope that you had a kind mom.
May you find peace and may you share peace with others. “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.”
“Whenever it’s possible, be kind. It is always possible.” – The Dalai Lama
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.
8 Replies to “Mother’s Day (2 of 2)”
Thank you so much for sharing this very personal story. It takes a lot of courage to share. I can’t imagine the pain it must be to have to walk away from two moms. Absolutely heart breaking.
I just learned this week that growing up with a narcissistic parent teaches a child that they are only valued for what they do and NOT for who they are. This is already opening up my thought to the fact that I can be valued for WHO I AM and not just WHAT I CAN DO. Wow. You too.
Your postings were very much appreciated, and timely also. Your first posting, on Mother’s Day, came at a very good time for me. Growing up, I never knew normalcy. I had a Science-preaching mother, who used the religion as a filter, as an excuse, to work against me. Speaking so much of the time in absolutes (in later years, after she took Class Training, she was insufferable).
She has been gone for a number of years, but finally, after finding the right therapist, and spending, over time, an enormous amount of money, I’ve managed to get on the other side of it. Mrs. Eddy says in Science and Health, that Christian Science is the “ultimate therapy”, but, frankly, getting away from Christian Science and getting professional help, was the best therapy for me.
Again, your post was very timely. It was Sunday morning, and I’d had to turn off two music programs I normally listen to, because they were constantly pushing the “Mother’s Day” theme on me. And, of course, the Amy Schumer/Goldie Hawn movie, “Snatched”, was timed to coincide with Mother’s Day.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad for anyone who has or who had a great relationship with their mother. It’s a wonderful thing.
But the harm that can come from relationships that are toxic, or where someone is pretending to care, whilst working against you, such as was done to me, can be a nightmare.
There was really so much in your two posts…very deep. Would like to write some more on it at a later date.
Thank you for your post. I, too had a very difficult relationship with my Christian Science mother. Mother’s Day is so painful for me I just tune it out. I still don’t understand why she was so much against me. Christian Science didn’t work for me and she would always triumphantly demand “why? As though I was evil, which she constantly insinuated, though less as I grew older.
I agree with all three of you. Thank you so much for your comments on the forum. The comments are always appreciated. I am so glad to hear this was a timely set of posts for you. it was timely for me too. It takes a whole lot of pain – for decades – to have to walk away from a parent. It makes it even harder when you lose a sibling because of it. Sadly, siblings don’t always want to know our point of view, and will side with the parent. It’s just super hard. Pain like no one can imagine. Glad we aren’t all alone.
I am new to this forum. I was brought up in a Christian Science family. And I didn’t know our family was different from other families until my precious younger brother lost his life to leukemia. Although, my parents, thankfully did take my brother to the hospital for 7 years. During this period they were completely ostracised by their local Christian Science members.
My brother lost his sight and was in a wheelchair, when he passed away aged 11. Due to Christian Science beliefs, I had no idea that he was unwell. Although, friends of the same age came round & read to my brother. I was also not asked to go to my brother’s funeral, but my twin brother attended.
In 2013, my mother told me the facts about my younger brother.
I won’t go into the detail on a website. But I decided to bring my own two children up differently. I supported them when they asked or needed it.
My daughter was born 12 weeks premature and had an undiagnosed hearing impairment at age 10.They also both suffered from asthma at a young age, despite my husband & myself being non-smokers.
Anyway, I decided not to follow any particular religion in my children’s upbringing. Although they did attend a catholic secondary school, as my husband was catholic. But I never imparted any of my dislikes of particular religions. As I wanted them to make their own decisions.
Consequently, my son went to university to study Physics & then decided to do a PhD in Physics at Oxford, where he graduated last week. And my daughter decided to study medicine at Cardiff & graduated as a doctor in 2016. Both my children are very happy, as they are following their choice of vocations. And I am extremely happy that I gave them the opportunity to be happy & be themselves, without any type of religious or other restrictions.
FYI – there is a Facebook group of former CS, https://exchristianscience.com/index/community-support/ex-christian-scientists-on-facebook/ has more information.
Hey, Anonymous – Wow – what a story. I am so sorry to hear of your loss of your brother. How old were you when he died? I am so glad you’ve made wonderful choices with your own children. Physics is awesome – what a great field!! Oxford is such a beautiful University and area. I love Alice’s Tea Shop in Oxford. How wonderful that your daughter is a doctor! Thank you for writing & commenting. And I also recommend the Ex CS Facebook group. It’s a wonderful group of folks who understand our very bizarre background, like no one else will.
This post hits me hard, especially this year for some reason. Every time an ad for Hallmark Mothers Day cards came on TV, I would start to cry because I never felt for my mom the way the daughters in those ads apparently feel for theirs. And then there were all those memes on Facebook: “Share this candle if you miss your mother in heaven.” I don’t miss her. I can’t help it. I am just grateful she’s out of my life, and I feel bad about that, but really, my life is so much better without her. She was the prototypical narcissistic person. As each of her children grew up and married outside of Christian Science, I became her last faint hope of carrying the religion into the next generation. Surprise, surprise (but not really). I never married because I was afraid I’d be a horrible wife (I probably would have) and an even worse mother (that’s a definite). She’s been gone for over 20 years, so I don’t know why this year was so hard on me.
Comments are closed.