Follow Up: Why is Christian Science STILL influencing my life?

Our first Zoom Webinar/Collaboration with the Fellowship of Former CS is up on the FFCS YouTube channel!

Cult recovery experts, Bob and Judy Pardon spoke about why the effects of Christian Science remain even years after leaving. Drawing upon 30+ years research and experience helping people escape, deprogram, and recover from cults, the Pardons offer a wealth of information along with deep compassion and practical ideas of next steps.

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Ex-Christian Scientist:

Fellowship of Former Christian Scientists:

Why is Christian Science STILL influencing my life?

Why does CS continue to influence your life even years after leaving? Cult recovery experts Bob and Judy Pardon will help us understand why.

The Fellowship of Former Christian Scientists in collaboration with the Ex-Christian Scientist group are thrilled to offer a zoom workshop led by cult recovery experts, Bob and Judy Pardon.



Why is Christian Science STILL influencing my life?

About this Event
Knowledge is the first step to freedom. Let’s “get wise” to the reasons why Christian Science STILL influences our lives even years after leaving.

The Fellowship of Former Christian Scientists in collaboration with the Ex-Christian Scientist group are thrilled to offer a zoom workshop led by cult recovery experts, Bob and Judy Pardon. The Pardons will speak about why the effects of Christian Science remain even years after leaving. Drawing upon 30+ years research and experience helping people escape, deprogram, and recover from cults, the Pardons offer a wealth of information along with deep compassion and practical ideas of next steps.

**Please note that this workshop will be focused on relevant recovery topics that are safe and welcoming for both the secular and Christian members of our groups. We ask that participants respect the diverse viewpoints held by the participants.

Details & sign up information at eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/why-is-christian-science-still-influencing-my-life-tickets-112239172386

Thanksgiving 2019

The Thanksgiving Day service is the only ‘special’ service the Christian Science church offers. The readings from the desk include the Presidential proclamation for Thanksgiving, as well as a few passages from The Bible and Science and Health. The service is then opened to the congregation for them to share ‘testimonies of healing and sharing of experiences in Christian Science.’

The following are testimonies from Ex-Christian Scientists, as they give thanks for having left Christian Science. Thank you all for your contributions!

We at The Ex-Christian Scientist offer no readings, or lengthy proclamations, merely our sincerest thanks for everyone who has contributed to our efforts. We do not advocate any one particular path but acknowledge that there are many legitimate pathways that can be personally and spiritually fulfilling.

All Thanksgiving posts are tagged Thanksgiving. Comments are moderated and closed automatically after 30 days.


I’m so grateful that since leaving Christian Science I don’t have to inconvenience the whole family by never being able to start our dinner prep until I get home from church. And they don’t have to worry about disappointing me by declining my invitation to help me fill a pew. (Ah the pride!!!! Look everybody, see my wonderful family!) – Jaycie


I am grateful that I am no longer a Christian Science practitioner. I am grateful to no longer be seen (or see myself!) as part of a spiritual elite who have some sort of advanced “spiritual understanding.” I am grateful to no longer be beholden to a system wherein my value is only as much as my last “successful” treatment. I am grateful that I was never made a Teacher or a Lecturer, and that I wasn’t hired to work in Boston – I am grateful that I am not bringing people into Christian Science, or further encouraging people to deepen their beliefs in CS. I am grateful that I am no longer perpetuating lies that are actively hurting people through denying the reality of our bodies, our minds, and ours hearts, and thus denying medical, emotional, and psychological help. I am grateful that I am not in a system that has such a hollow, empty, superficial, and ultimately harmful view of what it means to love one another. I am grateful that I am no longer being asked to ignore or cover-up lies, corruption, and abuse in the name of serving “The Cause.” I am grateful that my first allegiance is no longer to Mary Baker Eddy, her teachings, and her church. I am grateful that I am no longer engaged in twisting and warping, contorting and corrupting, every verse of the Bible to try to make it conform to Mrs. Eddy’s completely baseless interpretations. I am grateful to be free of the endless perpetual cycle of trying to be good enough, judgment, self-condemnation, guilt, and shame.

I am grateful to be in a new, real, Christian community now, one based in the gracious love of a God who really does know you and love you. I am grateful to be in a new church community where there are no elites, where honesty and integrity are more important than the organization. I am grateful to be in this new community where we can actually accept and love one another, not because of how good we are, or what we can do for one another. Instead, we love each other as real people, broken, messy, full of mistakes, but also gloriously beautiful, amazing, wonderful people – all at once! I am grateful to be in a church community where love and forgiveness are freely given. I am grateful to be in a community where we can laugh together and weep together, where people are actually there to help one another in every way, and where genuine love is truly freely given. – Tanner Johnsrud


I am glad I bailed forty odd years ago, in my twenties. I still pack crap, but have been glad of good medical care in the time since then. I have been able to control allergies with antihistamines, OCD, ADD, and depression with appropriate medications. Twenty years ago, a surgeon removed half of the medial meniscus in my right knee as I had torn it some fifteen years prior to that but just lived with it. Lately, I have begun reading about cs and mbe from writers who have not taken the blue pill, and am strengthened to be learning more about what an insanity cs is and what a complete nutcase mbe was, and how tmc has continued the delusion while the religion fades into well-deserved oblivion. I am especially grateful for the Ex-cs website and the facebook group. – Ron S.


I’m thankful to be FREE of Christian Science. I’m grateful for my family. I’m grateful for the ability to begin to care for my physical, emotional, and mental health, with the support of a wonderful counselor and a good doctor. And most importantly (with respect for those ex-CS who oppose religion, either for now or for always), I am thankful for the real Christian gospel of salvation through Jesus, a supportive church community, beautiful/real hymns, and the hope of heaven.  – Hillary


I’m grateful for modern medicine. I’ve just had a surgery that I’ve been wanting for a long time that will increase my quality of life and reduce my risk of cancer. I’m also grateful for my lifelong (non-CS) friends who still love me despite the fact that I was completely brainwashed when we met. – Spice of Life


I am so grateful to be out of Christian Science. While I was in CS, I sustained numerous concussions. I had 3 after i became a parent in my 30s. I never had any of them checked out medically.

One time I was trying to tell a testimony at a CS Wednesday church service about the most severe concussion I ever had. The First Reader shut me up. She completely invalidated me. It hurts like hell to be invalidated.

This year, in therapy, I learned that vision therapy is a “thing.” I learned that my plethora of eye problems is likely due to all the concussions I have had.

I am grateful for my therapist who validates me. I am grateful for my vision therapy team.

I am grateful to not have to sit through church today.

I wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving and holiday season. – Jodi


Thank you everyone for your Thanksgiving Testimony contributions, this concludes our post. Should inspiration strike, the comment section will remain open for 30 days.

We wish you a wonderful holiday season. The ExCS Admin Team.

I was told that I had the Best Life

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 was Deprived of Medical Care

Note: The Ex Christian Scientist does not advocate any one particular path but acknowledge that there are many legitimate pathways that can be personally and spiritually fulfilling. The views and opinions expressed by our individual contributors do not necessarily reflect those of the The Ex-Christian Scientist.


I’m happy to share! Maybe my experience, strength and hope will help someone else. I’m not exactly sure how my mother got involved with CS, I think she met a woman at her job when I was about 4 and started talking with her, and somehow she became convinced that it was true. I do recall her saying she was looking for a church that I could go to as a child but that made no sense, because there were plenty of others she could have chosen. So really it was something that I was forced to participate in from age 4 until I turned 18 and got out of there. I can’t say that I really believed it but it was just like any other unhealthy situation we grow up with, until we can do better. I was deprived of medical care, glasses, and anything else that was needed because going to the doctor or taking medicine was Animal Magnetism and Materia Medica. She had glasses though and said that’s because she hadn’t made her demonstration and wanted me to make mine. I got glasses when I was in Middle School because the school called her since I had to sit right at the blackboard to see. I had bad acne that went untreated and female problems that went ignored.

But I digress…When I was 12 I used to go to the Baptist church for youth services and knew something was different. My mother didn’t like for me to go and discouraged me so I stopped. But I always remembered how different it was. In High School I was in the choir and was around a lot of kids who also went to the Baptist church and I wanted to be like them. I started reading the Bible by itself on my own. So as soon as I got out of High School, went through I revolutionary period where I hung out with people from different religions and threw away every book and piece of literature I had from CS. I was angry and hated her and them. I think that parents who deprive their kids of medical treatment should be charged with neglect and abuse.

Finally at 23, I accepted Christ the Bible way, was baptized, and moved on with my life. I go to the doctor when I need to although I try to live healthy without the FDA. I believe that The Bible is true and there is no key to understanding outside of the Holy Spirit. Doctors are gifted men and women who help us when we are sick. I believe God heals, but it’s through His Word and not some method that a delusional woman made up. My mother resents me to this day for leaving CS but I don’t care. There’s a lot more I could say but it’s all in the past now. We live in the USA and can practice any religion we want, or none.

Peace and Blessings to all!

Anonymous

 

Thanksgiving 2018


The Thanksgiving Day service is the only ‘special’ service the Christian Science church offers. The readings from the desk include the Presidential proclamation for Thanksgiving, as well as a few passages from The Bible and Science and Health. The service is then opened to the congregation for them to share ‘testimonies of healing and sharing of experiences in Christian Science.’

The following are testimonies from Ex-Christian Scientists, as they give thanks for having left Christian Science. Thank you all for your contributions!

We at The Ex-Christian Scientist offer no readings, or lengthy proclamations, merely our sincerest thanks for everyone who has contributed to our efforts.

All Thanksgiving posts are tagged Thanksgiving.


I’m grateful for another year of personal development.

I’m slowly coming to terms with being an imperfect human who makes mistakes and feels anger, sadness and other negative emotions instead of repressing them.

I’m grateful because instead of agonizing and worrying when I feel unwell, now I just book an appointment with my wonderful doctor who listens to how I feel and validates my emotions. I’m grateful for antibiotics that cured a serious kidney infection in a couple of weeks while I rested and watched movies (instead of reading the bible lesson and feeling guilty for having allowed my thoughts to make me sick).

Also, I’m grateful because my daily reading is for pleasure or education. Not to protect my thoughts from a dodgy dark entity.

But mostly I’m grateful for the freedom that comes with knowing that It’s normal to be less than perfect. I feel less guilt and more peace than I ever did before leaving the CS church.

– Michele


I am thankful to the Princess Cruise Line and their medical Team, along with the Portuguese Military and the medical team in the Azores for saving my life. It is my feeling that my super high pain threshold due to past adherence to CS that made me not know that I had appendicitis. If I was aware of my “bodily matter”, I wouldn’t have inconvenienced so many people on the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Princess. I am thankful that when CS couldn’t heal, but could kill; I was able to give myself over to medical professionals to save my life.

– Judith


I never gave a Thanksgiving testimony, but every year for my entire childhood, our family started with the 11 am Thanksgiving Church Service, which of course was right on the heels of the Weds. eve Testimony Service. My father was First Reader for many of those services, which we all were forced to attend, and look happy about it – no, BE happy about it – upon pain of punishment. Because if I didn’t enjoy church, clearly, there was something wrong with me that I needed to fix.

I remember one year after the service, around age 7, we at the kids’ table were given apples, toothpicks, and gummy candies to make apple “turkeys.” You pierce the gummies with the toothpicks, like little candy kabobs, stick them into the apple in a fan pattern for the tail, then add toothpicks for the turkey neck and feet.

We had just heard Baroque music at the Thanksgiving Service, and I asked the organist, What is Baroque? She said, “It’s a kind of art that is full of embellishments. There is no blank space in Baroque style, everything is filled with a flourish or an ornament.” Thus began my still-strong love affair with the music of J.S. Bach.

Her comments had impressed me, as had the Bach, and I was inspired to make a Baroque-style apple-gummy turkey! I stuck as many gummy candies as I could fit onto my toothpicks, and made the most ornate, embellished apple-turkey possible.

Suddenly, I felt an unfriendly, firm hand yank my arm away from my project. My father towered above me, and dragged me into a dark corner far away from our lovely respectable guests, where he pinched me and twisted my arm while calling me “wasteful, greedy, immature” for using too much candy on my apple-turkey. I remember staring at him with no expression – because if i showed any expression, my disdain would be visible and I’d get whipped later for sure — and I thought, “If we didn’t have guests over, you’d be beating me for this, which is totally hypocritical for a First Reader,” and then I thought, “You’re so stupid. You can’t even tell the difference between a Baroque artistic experiment and greed.” Followed by deep loneliness, because my Dad was an artist, too, and I thought that if he knew of my Baroque inspiration, he would have loved it.

It took me years to identify this kind of interaction for what it is: projection.

So, to end my fun reminiscing, I am deeply in awe of the resiliency of my own spirit, and thankful to the health professionals, spiritists (not all of them are quacks – sometimes people can see things that lie outside the experiential or socially acceptable “norm” and that doesn’t make them charlatans or crazy) … to the good friends and seekers with open minds and hearts who have witnessed me cross the bridge between brainwashed, punished and in denial of my physical experiences, into a life where I am empowered, accepted, and acknowledged for my whole human experience: body, mind, spirit, gifts, problems, blessings, the whole thing.

Thanks for listening, and Happy Thanksgiving!

– Anon.


With apologies to Ogden Nash and the other purveyors of doggerel poetry I loved as a kid, here is my homage to Thanksgiving and to my journey out of CS:

Thanksgiving day when I was young —
those testimonies; hymns were sung;
the Proclamation from The Prez –
Another game of “CS Says.”

But now I’m older, healthy, sane
And here to say “It’s purely gain
To leave CS, open my eyes
To Real Life – what a surprise!”

There’s good… and bad, happy… and sad,
Content… and mad, nice guy… rude cad.
I soar…. I crash, kind words… backlash,
Good health… get sick, recover… not so quick.

A friend… a foe, get more…. let go,
Smooth patch…. rough sled, run fast… in bed.
In love… alone, sweet kids…. they’re grown,
Upright… laid low, we reap… we sow.

The lights and shadows, ups and downs….
They’re ALL ok! “Who knew?” I say.
I can embrace it all, and thrive!
Our daily bread while we’re alive.

Mrs. Eddy: On this day
Of giving thanks, I’m here to say
Please take your dualistic crap
And keep it! It’s a big mind trap!

To make us think perfection’s real.
Instead of all that makes us feel?
I’m giving thanks, each day, each night
To know the truth of TRUE insight.

– Lisa M.


This Thanksgiving, I would like to express my gratitude for not having to constantly police my own thoughts.

I was raised in Christian Science. At Sunday School, they taught us that our thoughts can affect the world around us. They said that positive thoughts would have positive effects, and negative thoughts would have negative effects. Because of this, I was told, it was important for each person to police their own thoughts. This was called “standing porter at the door of thought.” I remember they taught me to continuously monitor everything I was thinking. They told me that, if a negative thought entered my head, I had to immediately reject it. If I didn’t, bad things would happen.

“Standing porter” was awful. It brought a new level of stress to everyday activities. If I went to see a play, I had to concentrate on believing positive things about the actors, for fear of causing them to forget their lines. If I watched a game of baseball on TV, I had to concentrate on believing positive things about the players. The game might be happening hundreds of miles away, but I was still afraid that I might accidentally affect the outcome of the game.

Now that I’ve left Christian Science, the fear is gone. The constant mental burden is gone. I am grateful for the real world we live in, a world in which my thoughts cannot affect the world around me — but my actions can!

– Michael


This concludes our Thanksgiving post. Please feel free to contribute any additional testimonies in the comments below.

Please note any comments left on Thanksgiving day will be approved on Friday 11/23. All comments are screened, please view our Comment Policy if you have any questions.

Unashamed ExCS

By m.rose, submitted via email. m.rose is a pseudonym. For more information about how to share your story, please visit https://exchristianscience.com/about-2/share-your-story/


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 World Was Real All Along

By Michael, an Ex-Christian Scientist Group Contributor. Michael is a pseudonym, to ensure anonymity.

I want to take a moment to talk about reality.

I was raised to believe that the world around me, the world that I perceive with my physical senses, is not real. I was told that I live my life swaddled in illusion, and that I should constantly struggle to break through that illusion. I was completely sold on this idea. I craved reality. As a teenager, I vowed to dedicate my life to breaking through the illusion. I didn’t expect to succeed in this lifetime, but hey, death was unreal, so there was no deadline. I planned to keep “adjusting my thought” until someday the illusion melted away and I could finally see the real world.

After I left Christian Science, I gradually came around to the idea that the world that I perceive with my senses IS the real world. It was shocking. It was unnerving. It was electrifying. All my life, I’d been struggling for access to reality, and suddenly I found that I had this access…  that I had always had this access.

By analogy, it was as if I’d been told all my life that I lived inside a shell, and that the “stars” were just dots painted on the inside of the shell — and then, one day, I discovered that there never was any shell, and the stars were actually gigantic distant balls of plasma, and I COULD SEE THEM JUST BY LOOKING AT THEM.

It blew my mind. It continues to blow my mind every day. All I have to do is stop and think to myself “I have direct access to reality!” and instantly I’m filled with joy. It’s like remembering that I have a superpower.

Mother’s Day (2 of 2)

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

Chrystal’s Story – Going Crazy At Branch Church

Chrystal's Story header image

This is part of an on-going series, for all posts in this series see the tag Chrystal’s Story.


A note from Chrystal: I was born a fourth-generation Christian Scientist, and finally left the religion when I was in my 40s. In this blog series, I will do my best to share with you my 40+ year journey. I have done my best to make the journey sequential, but it’s also themed to a large extent, and sometimes it has been necessary to take things out of sequence to share a theme. 


Earache Story (Part 1)

One evening, my younger son had an earache when he was a toddler. He had them every now and then. One of my brothers used to get those too, but my step mom taught me that “at some point he just outgrew those.” She told me that after the pain of an earache is gone, it drains out, and they are “healed.” My son had probably several of those – a painful ear that drained out the next day, and then was “healed.” I called a Practitioner one time because his ear hurt. It was late at night, and I sat in my rocking chair, holding my precious toddler, and trying to “keep my thought calm.” He kept putting his finger in his ear and screaming. I could barely hear the practitioner talking to me on the phone over the screams of my son. After a while, my son calmed down and went to sleep. I never saw drainage, and thought, “well, that’s just a healing in a different way.” (This story continues, but it comes up – after I left the branch church as a member. This story is “to be continued.” See: Earache Story – Part 2)

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My “crazy” ideas, and the best events I have ever orchestrated in my life.

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As my boys grew up, I became more and more involved in Christian Science branch church work. I organized the annual lecture for our church, I created a dedication ceremony for our new building from scratch. I bought a new dress and gotten my hair done for the occasion, and baked 2 enormous, beautiful cakes. I expected 100 people to attend, and I think we got less than 30 people; to say “I was disappointed” would be a gross understatement.

At the time, I was on the church board. When I was on the board, a gal we all knew who had been a long time member wrote to us and said something like, “I am gay. You didn’t knowingly choose someone to be a gay SS teacher, and I am giving you the opportunity to ask me to leave.” While the whole LBGTQ idea is anti Christian Science historically, we as a church board, were actually quite progressive. We wrote her an easy letter saying, “We love you for who you are. We didn’t even need to discuss this or vote on it. We invite you to participate in this church now and any time in the future in any capacity that you would like.” She felt so incredibly loved by our letter. She had truly expected to be booted out of the church. We absolutely accepted her. I felt like I was working on bringing the branch church into the future.  (That member wasn’t there much longer. She moved away, moved back, joined a different branch church, then left that one too. I feel like there are layers upon layers in each of our stories, and none of us discuss them with each other. Each of us on our own little island.)

While this branch church was progressive when it came to loving a member who was gay, that church was ultra traditional, in that it didn’t allow memorial services or weddings in it. (Why would we need a funeral or memorial service when we don’t believe in death? The person didn’t die. They just “sailed in a boat and went over the horizon!” Why would we commemorate something that never happened?) This same church also only used to let Readers read only from the actual books (“The (KJV) Holy Bible,” and “Science and Health” by Mary Baker Eddy). But now that church allows even A.A. Meetings in the building, memorial services, HOA meetings, and if a Reader wants to read from their electronic device, they are welcome to do that too. It’s a fairly progressive church. They even allow memorial services there now too, though they are called, “Celebration of Life,” and look a whole lot like a regular church service with a small “testimony” time, when people can share memories of the deceased.

When my youngest son was in Kindergarten, I started up a Vacation Bible School (VBS) for Christian Science children. A friend of mine and I ran that for a few years. It was a wonderfully progressive thing to do with the children. One hour per week of Sunday School to learn “The Bible,” with kids not even showing up ½ the time didn’t feel like enough. So having a solid week of VBS for kids in the summer felt like a great idea. I went to almost a dozen local branch churches and recruited Sunday School teachers, students and volunteers to come from those places to be a part of our VBS.

You might be surprised to learn that at first, so many church members blasted me about this (can you imagine someone who professes to be a vocal part of a church they think is “The highest form of Christianity,” arguing with someone who wants to teach the children “The Holy Bible” in church?

Too many members actually said, “is that even allowed in our church?”

Seriously? (They were referring to the idea of having a camp for a week, from an insurance perspective. The insurance people thought the people who called to check were completely daft. They said: “you want to teach a Bible camp at your church? It’s your building, and that is a church activity, of COURSE your insurance policy covers it!”)

It was totally bizarre to me that Christian Scientists would wonder if we could teach The Bible to kids on days other than Sunday. They felt the only time to teach kids about The Bible was for that 1 hour every Sunday, and a VBS is just something that is simply not done at a Christian Science Church. I pointed out that we would be teaching The Bible to our children. I pointed out that The Manual of The Mother Church says, “The Sabbath children should be taught the 10 Commandments, the Beatitudes, and The Lord’s Prayer.” I pointed out that Christian Science teaches us that “the sabbath is every day; not just Sunday.”

“The first lessons of the children should be the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20: 3-18), The Lord’s Prayer, and its Spiritual Interpretation by Mary Baker G. Eddy (Matt. 6: 9-14), Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5: 3-11).”

 

The Manual of The Mother Church by Mary Baker Eddy, Article XVIII. Section 11.

I was shocked at how much explaining I had to do to convince people that this was an ok thing to do, and that it would be a good idea. I had passion for this project, and it kept me full of energy to keep pushing for it. I found it interesting that the people who had been my biggest resistance eventually became my biggest supporters.

Parents loved it! They donated money to cover all the costs like snacks, crafts, paper, etc. It was really a nice experience for the kids. That was one of two times when I felt completely supported in one of my “crazy” ideas for the church.

Another crazy idea I had, was to run with an article I saw in The Christian Science Journal, called “Church Alive.” The Journal called on all branch churches to run with the theme “Church Alive” and do an event the weekend of Annual Meeting (the weekend before the first Monday in June). I had an instant vision of what it would look like. It was a beautiful vision, and I thought, “let’s do it! The Mother Church asks us to do this; let’s do it! It will be wonderful!”  (Yeah, I’m crazy like that.)

Well, I brought it up to the members at my branch church. This branch church is proud for being the “largest branch church in the state.” (Most of the members do not come to meetings, and don’t show up for church services and haven’t in YEARS and need to be removed from the rolls. But the church seems to love the prestige of being “the largest branch church” so they keep the rolls stacked like that. That feels deceptive to me, but, that’s another story for another blog post.)

Well, I got so much push back on it. The board took forever. The article had come out in the fall, maybe in October. I had until June. To me, this was plenty of time. I had planned my entire wedding in 5 months, I could easily do this.

The decision finally came in late March: “Yes! Go for it!”

I remember rolling my eyes and thinking, “finally!”

After the decision came, I kept getting a lot of people saying “it’s too short of a time line! We can’t do it!”

I wanted to scream, “if you all had said ‘yes’ earlier, it wouldn’t be that short of a time line! Remember Jesus getting across the sea in that boat instantaneously? Christian Science teaches that ‘time is limitation.’ Stop believing in time!” But I just had to keep my mouth shut and let them grumble and show them we could do it & it would be fabulous.

TIME. Mortal measurements; limits, in which are summed up all human acts, thoughts, beliefs, opinions, knowledge; matter; error; that which begins before, and continues after, what is termed death, until the mortal disappears and spiritual perfection appears.

 

Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, p. 595

I wrote to all the people I knew at all the area churches – there were about a dozen within our tri-state area. I got so much response! I had meetings at our branch church. Together with all the volunteers from the area churches, we found speakers, workshop leaders, 200 attendees, and we catered lunch including vegan options for everyone. The entire lunch experience went flawlessly, which is really saying something. People marveled at the wonderful lunch experience, which still strikes me as funny.

We hired a musician from Boston to come and do a performance during the day, and we also gave him the opportunity to do a well-attended concert the night before. The day of our “Church Alive” conference, this musician sang “Siyahamba” with my very young son on stage, showing everyone how easy it is to sing the new hymns. (There is an incredible amount of resistance in the membership to sing from the new Hymnal Supplement. Also “Siyahamba” is one of the coolest spiritual songs ever, and I think it has become the hymn of the current generation of Christian Science kids.)

The whole event was to take place the Saturday before Annual Meeting (Annual Meeting is in Boston every year, on the first Monday in June). We saw the brand new community center that we were renting for the event for the first time the Thursday before that. I found out that day, that they had audio-visual capabilities. I developed a whole powerpoint, musical videos, and slide shows and everything after I found out the audio-visual capabilities. I also figured out how to stream a video of The Board of Directors talking to our audience through the audio-visual equipment. I had never done anything like that before. I figured out all of that in 2 days.

It was amazing, if I do say so myself. I consider the entire event to be one of my best shining moments in my life. To recap: I pulled together a team of volunteers and an amazing conference attended by about 200 people in the span of less than 3 months, and I did all of the amazing audio-visual in just 2 days. We not only stayed in budget, we also made a bit of money on the endeavor. I think that’s pretty darn cool.

The one thing that went completely askew was the one time in the group when I had to sadly “let them learn the hard way.” We had 2 choices for our keynote speaker. We could go with a very forward thinking Christian Science Teacher and Lecturer from another state (we had the money to fly her in) who is incredibly creative, or we could go with a local practitioner everyone knew who had started up 2 branch churches from scratch. The second woman had been a Sunday School teacher of mine, and everyone loves her. She’s wonderful and intelligent and kind and funny. However, she is not dynamic, and she is not a public speaker or a lecturer.

I have a leadership quality that lets the group decide, and then I get behind the decision. I don’t cause waves or hard feelings by saying, “you’re wrong here, you’re choosing the wrong option.” I pushed a little, but they were very set on having this local woman be the speaker. So, we had the local speaker come. She sat down during her keynote presentation. She read her speech from her own handwritten notes. Her speech was in no way dynamic, and it was very hard to listen to. Apparently, it had a lot of really great ideas and points in it (I couldn’t hear it from my seat in the back, but people who heard it & wrote on the comment cards, said she had a lot of great things to say). And almost every single feedback form we got for the day had high marks in every single area, except that the key note address was “not dynamic” and “hard to listen to.” That was the only failure of the day. I am not sure if I would push more next time, but it was interesting to observe this group do that to themselves.  They chose a “known” over a better alternative that was “unknown,” even though their group leader had passionately and lovingly told them which option would be the better option. They just couldn’t trust or have faith in the idea. And it made me feel sad for them.