The following has been submitted by “Anonymous Guy in Ohio.”
In general, I was a very healthy child growing up in our Christian Science household, so many of the intricacies about CS’s distaste for modern medicine avoided my awareness. Never had a broken bone. No allergies. Outside of a few severe seasonal colds, I never missed school.
My parents skirted around CS expectations in a curious manner…I got the mandatory vaccinations for school, I went to the dentist regularly–including getting fillings when needed (?) but everything else was off the table.
I very much liked Christian Science growing up. I remember being disappointed as a kid to find out that it was a lay ministry, meaning that leading services wasn’t a full time job. If they would have had priests or ministers, I probably would have considered that as a career path.
I don’t know why, but in my youth I was highly susceptible to testicle torsion. This is essentially when your testicle twists backwards and circulation is cut off. Very common sports injury. Some, like me, just seem to have a predisposition for it–like some people having “bad knees”, I guess.
It starts off innocently enough. A feeling like your leg is falling asleep, except it’s high up in your groin…usually I would go for a short walk, nature would take its course, it would untwist itself, and I wouldn’t think anything of it.
Then one day shortly before my fourteenth birthday, it happened again–and this time it didn’t turn back. This is the WORST. Nausea sets in as the most sensitive part of the male body starts dying. Worst pain you’ll ever feel. If I think about it hard enough, even 25 years later, I get nauseous all over again.
After vomiting for an hour, my mom said that I needed to “get back to God” and start praying. (I was a mouthy 13 year old–aren’t we all?!)
Several hours later it was now 1am and I was writhing in pain as I vomited off the bedside. The pain was too great to walk, so running to the toilet was out of the question.
My mom decided to read “Science and Health” to me….I didn’t hear a word she said. I told her my balls hurt. She told me that it was part of puberty and “I didn’t know what boys my age were supposed to look like” when I told her I could feel the swelling in my scrotum.
Finally I punched the wall. I was out of ways to process the pain. My mom closed the book and walked out of the room, telling me to get some sleep.
I thought about going to the hospital myself, but at 13 years old, I would have to walk there. In my small town, that was definitely possible, but in my condition, not practical.
I dreamed in a red haze all night.
For the next week, I felt part of myself die inside. They both swelled up to the size of a tennis ball as they fought for circulation. I was bullied in school for “walking funny”. I’m pretty sure the Guidance office & a few teachers pulled me aside to investigate, but I was programmed not to discuss family business with them. If only I had.
Eventually, one testicle shriveled up and died.
That’s when I fell out of love with Christian Science. There’s no coming back from that.
A few years later, I got an infection “down there”–this is a common thing if you’ve had this kind of trauma in the nether regions. It was a different pain, but similar enough that I was certain the whole thing was happening again.
I already only had one testicle–was I now a Eunuch at age 16?
I demanded to go the doctor. My mom said, “We can’t, you need to pray, this is what you get for falling away from the Church.”
I told her I was going with or without her because I had a driving permit now, and I didn’t care if I got arrested for not having an adult in the car. If she took the keys, I would walk, because it wasn’t as bad as the last time. Realizing that I had her, and that a minor showing up at the hospital without their parent’s consent would probably get Children’s Services involved, she relented and agreed to go with me.
My mom refused to sit in the appointment, because the Church would be disappointed. She said she was only doing this to humor me.
The doctor was done in about 10 minutes. “Here’s an antibiotic for the infection in your right testicle. No, your left testicle is never going to grow back. We’ll schedule a follow up test, but at this point it’s more dangerous to remove your testicle than to leave it.”
I told him that he didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already suspect about my condition, but I would need him to tell my mom because she thought I was only here because I was having a growth spurt and lacked a working knowledge of puberty.
He agreed, brought her into the exam room. He minced no words. I will never forget the look on her face as he told her that I was intimately scarred for life, and there was no remedy.
“It’s okay to cry,” she told me as we got back in the car, with tears in her eyes.
“I ran out of tears a long time ago,” I said. ” All that’s left is anger now.”
The following was submitted by Beverly via email. It is shared here with permission.
I was born and raised on both Principia Campuses, Upper School and College, in the late 1940’s. We lived in a tiny Faculty House, very isolated, on the Prin College Campus where my Dad (WWII Veteran) was a Professor of Political Science. Both my parents were also raised in C.S. Dysfunctional Families and my Dad’s mom was a very weird, 300 Lbs. overweight C.S. Practitioner.
When I was 9 yrs. old we moved to the Prin Upper School Campus where my Mom taught Pre-School. Again, very isolated community….you had to be a C.S. to live in our Neighborhood behind the School.
I remember that whenever any of us kids (5) got sick – we were told that we really weren’t sick and often felt guilty just for getting sick. We got no Medical or Doctor attention (if my folks had gone to the medical, they probably would have lost their jobs at Prin.) Also, since they didn’t have much money, my parents hardly ever called C.S. Practitioners – we little kids just had to “tough it out” on our own! We all remember lying in bed with Fevers, etc. and getting no relief or help at all. They just put on a Record of C.S. Hymns.
When my oldest sister was 10 she contracted Polio, but my folks just thought she had a headache and put her to bed. They may have called some dinky little practitioner in Elsah for a while…..but nothing was really done for her and she had to endure a lot of pain, screaming at night, on her own. When she finally got out of bed, one of her legs was withered and she has hobbled with a disfigured leg ever since. No wheelchair or aides for her! Now, her leg has deteriorated so much that she really can’t walk at all.
I suffered from periods of Deep Depression when I attended Prin College, but had no idea why. Then I got my first Flashback and broke down crying, saying “I don’t think I love Mom and Dad any more.” I had no idea why I was saying that.
Fast forward to my late 40’s. Again I was very Depressed, and thought maybe it’s because I had left C.S. years ago and maybe I should start studying it again. As I did…..thru a series of “Higher Power” orchestrated events….it was finally revealed to me that I had been sexually abused by my Dad when I was about 4 or 5 – in my bed at night. My Mom knew about it, but did nothing, as she needed to stay married to Dad and they needed the money from Prin.
I found Co-Dependents Anonymous and a Fabulous Sponsor which saved my Life! I’ve been a 12-Stepper every since! My problem is I still find it difficult to completely leave C.S. and get hooked back into it. I have done some Therapy, but no Therapist really understands how C.S. works and what it does to you…especially a child!
I’m so grateful to have found this website and could really use the support that is offered here.
Anyway, that’s basically my story and I still have a hard time believing that I was raised and abused in a Cult – when all the time I was told that I had the Best Life because I was being raised in C.S. and going to Principia!
I am a former student of Principia. I was raised in Christian Science my whole life, and my mom is one of the most respected CS nurses in New England. My father attended Principia College, but later left Christian Science. At the time I was graduating high school, he had lost his job, and told me Prin was the only affordable option because of the scholarships I received. After moving around and attending 4 different highs schools, part of me was relieved that I would be with people I knew–so I was obedient.
Early on in my freshman year, I went through an experience that would now be labeled as date-rape. I swept it under the rug until several people urged me to come forward. I waited until school ended that year, because I didn’t want negative visibility for me or the gentlemen involved.
That summer I attempted to process what had occurred, but after struggling from depression off and on throughout my life, I quickly fell into a dark place. The guy I had accused said many hurtful things to me, but when he called me a cunt, it completely broke my heart.
I started seeing a therapist and taking prescription anti-depressants. I was not planning on returning to Prin, but at the time it was my only option. The dean of students treated me like a heroine addict, and took my medication away from me. For a while, the resident counselor (with absolutely no medical background) was doling the pills out to me at night. Eventually the school told me I needed to stop taking them or leave.
Soon I fell into the adverse effects of withdrawal, far worse than anything I have ever experienced. The mental anguish was as painful as being stabbed. The dean of students told me I needed to go on medical leave, but it was a contentious time in my family and I felt I had nowhere to go. Eventually I tried to overdose on the sleeping pills I hid from the school. My roommate found me unconscious and called the school nurse. Luckily, after hours, I woke up. No one had called an ambulance, and no medical attention was given. It frightens me to think of how easily I things could’ve gone the other way—and I wonder why I wasn’t worth a 911 call.
I left at the end of the semester after the dean of students met with me and my father and told us that I could come back the next semester, without needing to reapply, and that my scholarship would still be in place.
I did as she said, but I was never admitted back into Prin, and was told I wasn’t allowed on campus. No reason was provided.
I remember the dean of students (at Principia) asking me to be more realistic when I said I might want to apply to a school like Boston College or Northeastern. I currently attend Northeastern University and work full-time in marketing. I am up for a second promotion, despite not having my bachelors yet.
Recently I met up with that same roommate, in NYC, when we were both visiting family, and we got into the topic of the school now allowing students to take medication. I became upset and said “well, where’s my apology”?! She told me it was my fault for attending the school, and that I just blame everyone else for my problems. It is this kind of ignorance and judgement of those who take medication, that make it really hard for me to be around Christian Scientists. What happened at Prin was deeply painful, but I suspect me not being CS made me unworthy of compassion.
I returned to work that Monday, feeling totally defeated, only to find I had been promoted to a full time employee “for far exceeding the expectations for an intern, and for an incredible work ethic.” Interesting that they left out my characteristic lack of accountability.
I don’t drink or do drugs, but I take medication every day for allergies, Birth control, etc. I don’t identify with any theology, but I am passionately vegan and advocate compassion for all living beings. In the eyes of Christian Science and Principia, I am morally inferior. In the eyes of everyone else, I am someone deserving of respect.
You know, it’s funny that I eventually got a heartfelt apology from the guy who assaulted me, but I never got a word of remorse from the school that almost killed me.
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
The following is a collection of contributions from members of the Ex-Christian Science collective about childhood health and safety issues they faced growing up in Christian Science.
Once I was at a friend’s house, and the mom handed me a Flintstones vitamin at dinner and I FREAKED. OUT. I jumped out of my seat and ran to hand it back to her with a breathless “I’maChristianScientist!” She looked at me so confused and said, “It’s just a vitamin.” And I launched into a mangled six-year-old’s explanation of Christian Science. I feel like they didn’t have me over again after that.
The problem with not being allowed to have something that everyone else in the general population takes for granted, and more so being told it is wrong, is that it leads to trying it anyway and sometimes in the wrong way. I was very curious about medicine and actually went so far as to steal a little tin of Bayer Aspirin. I locked my little brother and myself in the bathroom and made him try one first. Of course they tasted bitter and horrible and we spat them out. To this day I don’t remember how I disposed of them. Worse was stealing a bottle of pills from a drugstore in the days when many drugs were on the shelf. I waited until my grandfather was in another aisle and whipped it into my pocket. They were tiny brown pills, god knows what. I took them to school and told my friends I had to take them. I was desperate to fit in.
Until now, only my wife has known this embarrassing truth: at age 37 when I was first properly under the care of a doctor and was put on a few month-to-month prescriptions, I switched to Target pharmacy because they had red prescription bottles, and I had them all arranged artfully on my bedside table.
When I was six or seven, I got a pre-made Easter basket, and deep inside was a bottle of ‘Vaseline medicated lotion.’ Do you remember how it used to say that? I can’t imagine what the ‘medication’ was; anyway it was instantly my most prized, secret possession until my dad caught me showing it off to my cousin and made a huge scene and took it away. My non-Christian Scientist cousin must have thought we were complete nitwits.
PLEASE NOTE: The following post contains content that may make some readers uncomfortable.
By Lucy, an Ex-Christian Scientist Group contributor. ‘Lucy’ is a pseudonym, to ensure anonymity.
My husband and I both grew up in Christian Science families. We first met at Principia Upper School and then attended Prin college together. He has always been more spiritual and I’ve always been more practical, so when both of his parents died early from treatable diseases he really dug into Christian Science as a way to try and find healing from his grief, which he didn’t think he was supposed to feel. But at some point, probably a few years ago, I began to realize that as much as I really wanted it to be true and work it made NO sense to me. I began to get into science… you know, actual science!
PLEASE NOTE: The following post contains content that may make some readers uncomfortable.
By Rachel, an Ex-Christian Scientist Group contributor. ‘Rachel’ is a pseudonym, to ensure anonymity.
I was a fifth generation Christian Scientist. Having grown up in a family involved with Christian Science for multiple generations, I can see patterns now, passed down through family stories; patterns from the very first family members to join Christian Science. The things that happened to me in my childhood were probably going to happen to me regardless. But the incidents would not have been handled in the manner that they were if not for the fact that our family were Christian Scientists.
I was sick so much as a kid with diseases I was not vaccinated against. I had every kind of measles that you can have, and the mumps. The ear infections were horrible and one of my most prominent memories of childhood. I don’t think my mom knew what an ear infection was. My dad did insist that I have the polio vaccine—I’m so grateful for that. And no one ever made me feel guilty for being sick, or berated me. Christian Science taught me how to do that all by myself. Continue reading “Rachel’s Story”
By Elizabeth, an Ex-Christian Scientist Group contributor.
“What would you do if you broke your leg?” The question every Christian Scientist kid has had to answer numerous times. My Sunday School teachers and my family gave me the script for it: “Well, I’ve never had that happen, but if we ever had a problem we couldn’t address with prayer, then we would go to the hospital.” The Christian Science brand of denial is enormously powerful; I was still giving this speech when I was eighteen years old and had never had a menstrual period or completed puberty, and had never been taken to a doctor for a diagnosis.
I was told that, “whatever is going on, we know” that I was “born perfect.” Every year at my birthday, there would be some Christian Scientist relative mumbling about “oh, well, dear, you know your mother didn’t get it ’til she was fourteen,” and then the next year, “the neighbor’s granddaughter didn’t get it ’til she was fifteen,” and then, “well, my friend knew someone who didn’t get it ’til she was sixteen.” I was sent to Principia Upper School when I was fifteen, which was a neat way to end the debate, as medical intervention was not allowed there. Then there were just the school breaks to negotiate; I never knew when a shame bomb would be dropped. At a holiday, chatting in groups in the living room after a family dinner, a relative would question me about my period and give some Christianly Scientific advice.
The theology I was held to account to was grindingly inconsistent, although having been raised in it I was rarely able to detect this fact, only able to feel the emotional upset and frustration caused by it. One grandmother made frequent oblique departures from Christian Science doctrine to hypothesize about how perhaps I’d never gotten my period because I was overweight. Once in a while my dad would ask if I wanted him to “do some work” for me, which always led me to uncontrollably wonder how long it had been since the last time he’d offered, and at what point that previous round of “work” had just dropped from his consciousness, the state of denial resumed. My internal state was that of private torment and prayer.
I was very occasionally told that, “It’s your choice if you want to go to a doctor,” regarding my ‘problem’—mostly after I was eighteen and I was expected to take care of myself—but it didn’t feel as though that was an option, really. It took me years away from the Christian Science church before I found going to a doctor comprehensible, and still, then, it was terrifying. I finally went to a doctor on my own when I was 25 and found out that I was born without ovaries. An “infantile uterus” seen on the ultrasound, the fallopian tubes just trailing off, two different lengths.
This is not a Christian Science tragedy. No one lost their child or their limb or the last thirty years of their life. But it’s ridiculous, is what it is. This is what’s ridiculous about Christian Science: for thirteen years, from about age twelve to twenty-five, I waited and prayed for my period to start. I waited and prayed for puberty to finish. I wondered if I was going to be able to have children. And I was sometimes made to feel that I was not doing enough, was not deserving enough, was not diligent enough in my studies or something, for my body to ovulate, when in fact there were no ovaries in my body.
If my parents had taken me to a gynecologist around the age of thirteen, or maybe fifteen, which is about the latest I think a non-Christian Scientist family would have waited under the circumstances, we would have been given the diagnosis: ovarian agenesis with accompanying primary amenorrhea; infertility. We would have been told that I had not been “born perfect.” I would have appreciated having that information very much. Because ages 12-25 were no goddamn picnic for me, I have to tell you.
Everything about my sexuality was frozen in early adolescence. Puberty seemed to have begun around age ten, and then ground to a strange halt. The more time passed, the more the dynamic became that of my adult woman’s body not belonging to me, for it stubbornly refused to develop. Instead it belonged to God, or Christian Science, perhaps. My developed body and adult sexuality would be released into my possession only if I was pure enough. It could be obtained by studying those two leather-bound books marked with blue chalk each week. I genuinely do not think my parents realized how messed up it is to put a teenager in this position.
As a decade passed, and I grew up without growing up hormonally, or entirely physically, this sense of my sexuality being on hold and not belonging to me became conflated with my perceptions of dating and relationships and the fact of my lesbianism. I find it very hard to put into words what it was like to be a gay Christian Scientist. There weren’t any words, for as long as I was a Christian Scientist. No one told me that I had to be this way instead of that way, or defined morality as exclusive to heterosexuality. I understand that must sound like a positive, but it might have possibly been more helpful than the complete silence, because I would at least have had a definition; something to react against is at least something.
Until I was able to break through the denial system of Christian Science and go in search of my diagnosis, I felt that nothing of the world of adult sexuality was meant for me—not dating, not intimacy, not being straight, not being gay, and of course not being a woman with boobs and a period. I remained almost completely divorced from my own sexuality and very out of touch with my own body until I began my relationship with my wife-to-be, within a few months of that first doctor’s appointment. We have been together for sixteen years now, and our union has led both of us steadily away from dysfunction in our relationships and in our lives, and me away from Christian Science.
By an anonymous Ex-Christian Scientist Group contributor.
The Christian Scientists I grew up around all pretty much disappeared the moment my mother drowned in her own bed of a mysterious lung condition after a long period of radical reliance. I can’t say I ever really missed them, though a ‘sorry’ would have been nice.
Some of the people from her church came to the funeral. They avoided me for as much of it as they could, and left as soon as it finished. I never saw or heard from any of them ever again, despite the fact I had known all of them for years, I was a teenager, and they all knew I was then left on my own.
I had tried to stage a sort of adolescent intervention in my mother’s Christian Science treatment. Her best friend was also a Christian Science practitioner, and a fairly big lifelong contributor towards my mother’s reliance on ‘Science’. My mother looked on her as a sort of contemporary Mary Baker Eddy. Of some indeterminate late age, she was a bustling dynamo of a woman who arrived in the middle of a situation, then strode around setting everyone straight and bullying them into ‘Divine Mind’ for their own good. The idea of criticising this woman was almost tantamount to blasphemy, so I was surprised that I would be granted an audience about the issue with my mother present. I stupidly thought it was because we were actually going to talk about my mother’s failing health and devise a plan for managing it.
This meeting with them—where I wanted it to be agreed that she needed to see a doctor—dawned, and I went down from my bedroom with suddenly sweating palms and hammering heart, and this woman just ran rings around me and made me feel about two inches tall. She turned all my carefully planned arguments back at me and by the end of it I wasn’t even sure if the sky was blue and grass green. To cap it off, it was implied that the lack of a healing might be due to my negative thinking. Actually to really cap it off, she finished up with explaining that our family’s poverty was down to my laziness in not applying Christian Science better and that I was now ‘in charge of the finances’ and that she expected to see results from me because it was unfair that my mother had to deal with a physical healing and a situational one while I did nothing. I left meekly agreeing that I would and feeling terrible at my own selfishness. For every day after that until my mother’s death, I felt our poverty and her ill health was my fault. I was thirteen.
I sometimes wonder what I would say to her, or them, now. I would like to give them a piece of my mind, to be honest. I had an absolutely horrible time growing up in Christian Science, and none of it was my fault. I just believed what they told me. Because I was a kid!
There was another group of friends that that my mother had made comparatively very recently through an evening class, who all turned out to the funeral and the wake and all showered me with offers of help if I needed. It was actually the first time I began to understand that people who weren’t in Christian Science were generally a lot nicer and more human than people who were.