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.

Freedom from Christian Science and a Path out of Anxiety

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


In my decades as a Christian Scientist, I read Science and Health all the way through at least three times. I even tried to do what one of my mother’s friends did: read the entire book in one week (seven hundred pages in seven days). Yet in all my readings, my favorite chapter was always the one set apart from the rest of the book: the final chapter, “Fruitage.” I loved the personal narratives, which I could latch on to so much more easily than the formal prose. I loved the healings; one of my favorites was from the Civil War veteran who was healed of a broken jaw from taking a log in the face when sawing wood. Yet, as I grew into my thirties, I felt increasingly that I was at the same place many of the “Fruitage” writers were. I was ailing, hurting, discouraged, lost, and wondering what it was all about. I yearned for relief. I had been a student of Christian Science all my life, yet I was in the place of these people who discovered Christian Science. Darkly, I began to think of myself as a reverse Christian Scientist. What did that mean for me? Would I ever find healing?

After I left Christian Science and, awkwardly, entered medial care, I began to accumulate testimonies of my own kind. I found freedom, redemption, healing, comfort—concepts embraced by Christian Scientists—in the sphere of modern medicine.
Of all these, freedom is the one that means most to me. I spent fourteen years living in fear of heart disease. The symptoms began in 2001: My heart would race and beat fiercely. My chest would ache. My breathing would become shallow, my hands would tingle, and I would feel light-headed. I knew very little about my body, but I knew enough to be convinced I had a heart problem. (I want to note here that these symptoms can be serious, so definitely learn about them and get yourself checked out by a doctor if you experience them.)

Thus began over a decade of suffering. I experienced these symptoms with varying degrees of frequency and extremity. Thus began prayer, reading, and calls to four different practitioners over the years: calls in the early hours of the morning sometimes, sometimes calls when I was too afraid to even speak. The practitioners were patient and kind. One of them assured me, “Your heart is strong.” That helped me.
After the first two years, the spells lessened. But they never left. The fear never left. It often brought me to tears. I stopped driving on highways, and I approached bridges with trepidation. I was afraid of having an attack, losing control of my car, and harming myself or others. I dreaded being alone in my house (something I typically enjoyed) because I might have a fit and die with nobody to help me. I was even scared in long lines at the grocery store or at stoplights, lest I collapse and hold up people’s progress.

When I left Christian Science and started medical care, I anxiously awaited my first physical: What will they find? I did feel some reassurance that I would finally receive proper care, but I dreaded the inevitable looks of concern, the tests, the diagnosis.
My dread turned to relief. Since my start with medical care in 2015, I’ve had various tests, some as part of regular doctors’ visits and some stemming from two urgent care visits. Among those tests, I’ve had two EKGs, neither of which caused any concern.
My heart is fine. They say I have an occasional murmur, so I take the doctors’ advice to
avoid caffeine, to exercise and eat well, and to cope with stress. My heart really is strong, or at least it’s mostly normal. Now I know that with an assurance I never had before. (Even if I had a problem, I would now be in the care of professionals. And I wouldn’t be alone: Heart trouble is experienced by many people around the world; it’s part of the human condition, and we make the best of it that we can.)

What, then, were all these symptoms that I felt? I still had episodes of shallow breathing. I asked my primary care physician about it. Her first question was, “Do you feel a lot of stress in your life?” She asked about anxiety—a term I’d never heard spoken except in the context of nervousness, like I-am-so-anxious-about-my-math-test. This lovely, perceptive physician referred me to mental health services, where I found a therapist that illuminated my world. She explained anxiety to me. She recommended two books to me (see the resources below). The books introduced me to the nature of panic attacks. I remember sitting on a chair in my bedroom,
my mind blown wide open as I went down a checklist of panic attack symptoms. This changed my life.

Since autumn 2016, I have had four panic attacks. They are horrible, and at some point I always end up thinking I am going to die. (There’s still progress to be made!) But I hold on to the thought: This is probably a panic attack. I ride it out with the tools I have been given from therapy and books. I can enjoy being alone again. Waiting in lines or at stoplights is a normal experience again. And I’ve been driving on highways more. I’ve had many victories. I have freedom. The contributors to “Fruitage” in Science and Health sometimes remarked that they were grateful beyond words for Christian Science. I am grateful beyond words for leaving it.

Resources

And many more! Look around for what fits you best.

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.

Practicing Radical [Self] Reliance: Self care for former Christian Scientists (and for life in general)

This post was originally shared on Nov. 9, 2016. The holiday season can be a difficult time so we are sharing it again as a reminder to everyone to take care of themselves. 


With the holiday season upon us, we are sharing some of our favorite self-care techniques. Self-care is often a difficult concept for former Christian Scientists, and it is an on-going process.


If you feel things are really bad:

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

Lifeline Crisis Chat: https://t.co/UXJqH6Y0KA

Please. Use them. We need you.


Self-awareness:

  • Understand your body. Get enough sleep and drink plenty of water.
  • Be comfortable: don’t overeat, eat healthy, balanced meals.
  • Wear clothes that feel good, especially underwear. Go braless if it makes you feel better in your own skin, or find the best fitting bra that you can – a good bra is worth its weight in gold.
  • Medicate appropriately. Address pain with medical professionals and be kind to your body.
  • Know what your “baseline” feeling/mood is. Notice when it changes, by be patient and kind with yourself.
  • Knowing when to ask for help. Knowing when to seek professional help i.e. a doctor, therapist, psychologist, friend, family member, etc.
  • Therapy and counseling options may be helpful. When in doubt, “treat yourself like you are someone you love.”
  • Accept that you are human and mistakes will happen.
  • Accept emotions rather than fighting them, even if you don’t know where the emotions are coming from.
  • Know that it is OK to be sad, angry, depressed. These are real human emotions. You are a real human. Don’t beat yourself up for having them.
  • Accept that you are human and you have a physical, material body. Embracing sensuality is neither gendered nor an indulgence, it is part of the human experience. Touch is one of the most powerful sensations that we have: explore it and own it.
  • Do something that stimulates your body and/or brain:
  • Exercise: biking, pilates, walking, yoga, meditation, journaling, writing.
  • Do something that grounds you:
  • Keep track of your moods, pet your cat/dog/horse/chicken. Craft, garden, paint.

Be in control:

  • Have your own bank account.
  • Know how much money you have, where it comes from, where it goes.
  • Use a budgeting tool to understand your spending habits (mint.com)
  • Say “no” when you need to. You don’t need an excuse.
  • Enforce your boundaries.
  • Reserve one or two nights a week for yourself, adjust as needed.

Know that when you start establishing boundaries, you may initially get some “backlash” from those who are used to running over you. Hold your ground, boundaries are very important for your well being. The more you say “no” to things, the better you will get at it. It’s ok to say “yes” to things that you do have time and energy for, and saying “no” to the rest will help you find that balance!

Be patient with yourself and others as your perspectives change: the morals you were brought up with may be arbitrary and others may have different values, so try to keep an open mind and not be critical of others. If it doesn’t affect you/others, don’t make it your drama. Own your feelings and examine what makes you uncomfortable. Don’t be afraid to change your views based on your new understanding of life.

 

Links some people have found helpful:

PLEASE: http://www.dbtselfhelp.com/html/reduce_vulnerability.html You can google “DBT Please” for more. These are for regular maintenance.

Distress Tolerance: http://www.dbtselfhelp.com/html/distress_tolerance1.html These are for when you are overwhelmed in the moment. Different things you can do when in an emergency. Google “DBT Distress Tolerance” for more.

 

What do you find helpful? Let us know in the comments! 

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

My thoughts on Father’s Day…

This originally appeared on Emerging Gently, and is re-published here–with some edits, with permission.


A few years ago on Father’s Day, I shared a picture of my Dad on my Facebook timeline. Unlike many other pictures that people share of their fathers on Father’s Day, I don’t share the camera space with him in this picture: my cousin does. It was taken during a visit she and her husband had with him the summer before he died. It is also the last known picture that was ever taken of Dad. He died later that same year on Christmas Day. I’ve looked at this picture often. Even now, nearly seven years after his death, it still brings a tear to my eye.

I look at his face and remember how it felt to hug him. I hear his voice, a kind voice that carried so much wisdom. Yes, I miss him, I always will. The grieving has long passed, and I go on with my life without him and Mom, but I never stop missing them. I’ve been told you never do, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. It keeps them alive in your heart.

My thoughts turn to a conversation I had last week with a friend as we were driving back home from a camping trip. It was a long drive, so we dived deep into a lot of topics, and the discussion eventually turned to religion. We’re both what you’d call ‘spiritual, not religious’. We both attend First Nations/Native American ceremonies and follow that spirituality. I told him the whole story about my parents’ deaths–he knew some of the story, but not the Christian Science back-story–I haven’t shared that very much with my current circle of friends. It came out through the conversation that I have moved into a stage with my whole process of dealing with my parents’ deaths of very deep anger. I hate what Christian Science made my parents do to themselves in their latter years. No, they didn’t die young (Mom was 81, Dad was 79), but it was the fact that they suffered needless physical pain (in Mom’s case it was extreme), and discomfort (Dad lived for around seven years with untreated heart failure).

Each and every day, they prayed for a healing in Christian Science. They paid hundreds of dollars to Christian Science practitioners, and in Mom’s latter days, thousands of dollars to a Christian Science nursing facility where she languished in the most unimaginable pain. Yes, I seethe with anger over how their last days were thanks to their unwavering adherence to Christian Science. It promised them healing, it gave them painful deaths. They chased the elusive healing like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow–it was always ‘just around the corner’; but, they never could get around that corner.

I see, through the stories told in the ex-Christian Scientist Facebook groups I’m in, of horrific ways lives have been damaged thanks to Christian Science. People who, as children, were scolded simply for being sick, for instance. Or, in a more extreme example, my friend Liz Heywood, who ultimately lost a leg due to a bone infection that was “treated” with a Christian Science “treatment”. This condition could have been routinely treated with antibiotics if her parents had simply taken her to the doctor, and the disease would have just been a footnote in her childhood memories. My anger is also kindled at the recent news that someone I knew from my college days at Principia died at the ripe old age of 43. Now, I don’t know if this person was still an actively practicing Christian Scientist, but there have been many deaths of Principia graduates far before their time.

“That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence”
~Christopher Hitchens

Yes, I hate Christian Science, and I hate what it’s done to my family, and so many others. It promises everything, and delivers little to nothing. It’s nothing more than an opiate for desperate minds. Christian Science asserts that it can heal anything, yet offers little credible evidence that it can; so, to follow on Mr. Hitchens’s thought, it can also be summarily dismissed. However, I can trot out plenty of irrefutable evidence that it absolutely cannot heal anything, and it causes people to suffer needlessly and in many cases die far too young. It is one of the most refined forms of delusional thinking there is. So, I do not dismiss it without evidence. Quite the opposite–I have seen plenty of evidence that Christian Science can’t heal anything.

I’m still the odd man out

By Renee, an Ex-Christian Scientist Group contributor.

I am a medical assistant at a health and wellness practice. Recently at work we started this 30-day affirmation challenge. I read through all of the materials and was instantly troubled. The document was something along the lines of ‘Positive Affirmations for a Healthy, Happy Life.’ I am usually a fairly upbeat, laid-back person, but these types of things bring out the worst in me.

There was this one line towards the end: “I believe in the perfect outcome of every situation in my life.” Ummm, no thank you. We were also encouraged to wear a green rubber band and every time we said or thought something negative, we were supposed to pop the rubber band and switch wrists. My ex-Christian Scientist heart just ached over the thought of doing this. I was not willing to punish myself for having an honest thought or feeling.

I went straight to my boss and told her that I really appreciated the thought of what management was trying to accomplish and that I think that having a cheerful disposition when dealing with our patients is essential. At the same time, when someone is hurting they need compassion, and validation that they hurt and are sick, not to pretend that everything is fine. My boss is also a very close friend, so I kind of leaned on her desk and told her that it took me 25 years before I was really free to say that I didn’t feel well or that I was unhappy and many more years beyond that of digging through the damage those 25 years cost me. I flat out stated that I would not participate.

She looked at me like I had suddenly grown a horn out of my forehead. She didn’t understand. Everyone looks to me for direction. I keep the medical staff lifted up and I am always an ear for others. How could I not want to do this when I am the one always cheering everyone on? This is right up my alley! Blah, blah, blah… She literally was horrified that I had told her this.

Here we go again. I’m the kid sitting in the hallway doing a worksheet because my classmates are studying human biology and it conflicts with my religious beliefs. But this time, somehow, in the reverse, and I’m still the odd man out. How is that? But I have stayed to true to myself and not participated, even though to do so brings a different sort of discomfort in trade.

Thanksgiving Testimonies

 


The Thanksgiving Day service is the only ‘special’ service the Christian Science church offers. The readings from the desk include the Presidential proclamation of 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 the Ex-Christian Scientists Facebook group, 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.


“Thank you for your wonderful post (readings) tonight. Many years ago I had a great insight that everything I learned growing up in Christian Science was complete BS and am very grateful to have learned that MBE was psychotic and a narcissist. No matter what happens I know I will be protected from watching my children suffer in pain from an ailment that can easily be treated with medication. When my daughter was kicked from a horse in 6th grade and broke both of her wrists I was able to quickly get her to the pediatrician who immediately began working on her. She had a beautiful healing and didn’t suffer from listening to Larry Groce tapes or a practitioner telling us both we needed to correct our thinking. Who knows what the outcome may have been if we didn’t know about this wonderful world of medical attention. This ability to get my children the medical attention they needed while growing up is the greatest gift that being a non-Christian Scientist has brought me. I am forever grateful!” – S.


“I am so grateful to be part of this healing thanksgiving service. I am grateful for so many insights I have gained since leaving Christian Science, but the most treasured one relates to the healing of a belief of fear of pain. All my life I feared pain. I was protected from experiencing pain for the most part, sometimes with the help of the work of dedicated practitioners, but the FEAR of pain sometime in the future never left me. Now that I have left Christian Science, I no longer fear pain. I know I can rely on modern medicine whenever I need to, and I am most grateful for the freedom this has brought to my life.” – J. 


I am very grateful for the unfoldment that came to me one night while perusing the Internet. I was really curious about the ‘pro and con’ of Christian Science and related websites, but mainly the ‘con’. One in particular was by the American Atheists. This is where I learned about Mary ‘Faker’ Eddy and her shady background with her ‘discovery’ of Christian Science. It talked about how she borrowed a copy of Quimby’s works, removing his references and inserting her own, then claiming his work to be her work (plagiarism!!!). From this point on, l felt deceived and betrayed, that as a child being raised in this religion by my wonderful single parent Christian Scientist mother, as well as my aunts and uncles up to this point in my adult life, I am through with this cult! 

On an amusing side, to continue with this article, I want to share a paragraph with you here. It’s about the Church Manual (c), Article IX, Section 2. Sudden Decease. 

If a member of the Mother Church shall decease suddenly, without previous injury or illness, and the cause thereof be unknown, an autopsy shall be made by qualified experts. When it is possible the body of a female shall be prepared for burial by one of her own sex.” 

To continue through the American Atheist(c) article, 

One cannot help but wonder just what constitutes ‘sudden decease’ if there be no such thing as death. Since supposedly there is no such thing as ‘injury or illness’, it would follow that all Christian Scientists lack physical bodies, we are left to wonder just what it is that will be autopsied. With regard to the autopsy being performed by ‘qualified experts,’ we wonder if this was a concession by Mrs. Eddy to the world of real doctors – people who can tell the difference between livers, spleens and strangulated hernias. Precisely who these ‘qualified experts’ might be, we may never know. Even so, whenever the nonexistent body of a pretending-to-be dead female is to be prepared for burial – despite the impossibility of death and thus need for burial – said female non-dead non-body should be viewed only by a not-pretending-to-be-dead female pretending to be embodied.” 

After reading this, I couldn’t stop laughing. Before the night was through, I learned about two books (of many) critical of Christian Science. Those being Dr. Linda Kramer’s “The Religion That Kills – Christian Science: Abuse, Neglect, and Mind Control”. Now titled “Perfect Peril”. I bought both and read them cover to cover More than once. It is my opinion that both women set the record straight about Christian Science. I am very grateful to ‘know the truth’ about this bad religion.

I omitted mentioning the second book – foolish me! It’s Caroline Fraser’s God’s Perfect Child – of course!” – G


“I am grateful to have found this site. To have a place where I have discovered that a religion I left four decades ago is , and always has been , never the less, poisoning my entire life. I am grateful for the hideous flashbacks and nightmares I had here initially because it is better to remember. Cannot deal with, cannot purge , what you don’t remember. I am grateful to Elizabeth for listening to my story before I was brave enough to share it with anyone else. I am grateful to Willa Cather for writing those articles while people who knew what a narcissistic, sociopathic, lunatic MBE was from first hand association were still alive, and telling the world about it. Had CS people read it from then on maybe this atrocity of a cult would have never developed to the point it did, and none of us would have had to grow up in it. I am grateful that CS churches and reading rooms are closing, and this abomination of a cult is shrinking…may it collapse completely and its buildings turn to dust. Most of all I am grateful to finally know others who get this, and allow me to be crazy, and go through phases, and speak openly about things I would never speak of anywhere else, and work through things…and to realize for the first time that my childhood really happened, and that the same things happened to other children, and that we somehow survived, and that none of us are alone in this anymore.” – L


 I am grateful for ibuprofen and the pill, so that I no longer lose 1-2 days of work/school/life 4 or 5 times a year due to miserable cramps, nausea, and vertigo. Through their introduction to my life, I was able to liberate myself from simpering matrons telling me not to believe the Eve myth.” – J.


“I’m grateful for psychology, psychiatry, Prozac, Ativan, and the fact that I had my daughter in the hospital because if I’d had her at home, she probably would have died. Oh, and wine with Thanksgiving dinner.” – A.


“Thank you for the readings on the subject of Thanksgiving. I have much to be thankful for today. Throughout my early life, I was challenged by a false belief: the belief that my thoughts could affect the world around me. I was raised in the Christian Science church, which taught me that the world that we experience is determined largely by our beliefs. For this reason, I was told, I must consciously believe, at all times, that the world is perfect, and I must deny any acknowledgment of the imperfections of the world.

Of course, it was all an illusion, but like many illusions, it had a very real power to hurt me. I developed a habit of denying and repressing my thoughts. I was afraid, all the time, that an incorrect thought would slip through and cause misfortune to me or to the people around me.
I would like to express my gratitude for having seen through this illusion. I know now that I don’t need to be afraid. I know now that my thoughts have zero power to affect the world, unless I choose to act on them.
Knowing the truth has freed me from this false belief. With this freedom has come a tremendous sense of relief. I am free from self-denial and repression, free to see myself as I truly am, and to see the world around me as it truly is: imperfect, and beautiful in its imperfection.” – P.

“I am so thankful for the ex Christian Science movement. Knowing the truth about science based medicine has helped me overcome many physical and emotional issues. Radical reliance on drugs and surgeries has helped me live a healthy, happy existence. I was born imperfect. Scientific research and doctors have helped correct this.

As an ex Christian Scientist, I have shed the fear of my true identity: a mortal and finite woman, capable of many things including the expression of sorrow and loss.

The biggest blessing I have received as an ex-Christian Scientist is leaving behind the secrecy within which Christian Scientists choose to exist. The time for critical, rational thinkers has come. I thank my inquisitive mind for directing me to greater truth, realistic life and my human capacity to love and be loved. My essential spirit and the expression of my soul are reflected in the true principle of human physiology. I am most grateful for the common sense  that directed me and lead me away from Christian Science.” –W


“I would like to express my gratitude for my release from the mental prison of Christian Science that I locked myself away in for the first 41 years of my life. I’m grateful to freely acknowledge when I get sick, or feel pain. I am grateful for medications that heal infections, reduce inflammation, or ease pain. I’m simply grateful to acknowledge the reality of this world around us, both the good and the bad parts of it.” -J


“I want to express my gratitude for learning the real truth about both Christian Science and Mary Baker Eddy when I did. I only wished I had learned about them years sooner. Needless to say, i was aghast and shocked at the truth. However, I am holding my head high and smiling, because my Christian Science past is well behind me. I still think of my beloved Christian Scientist Mother, whom I miss so much, but she is in her rightful place where God delivered her many years ago, and I know she is very happy. I am also eternally grateful for that. Lastly, I pray for all Christian Scientists, that they may have the wisdom to leave this cursed cult, to see it more for what it isn’t (NOT a healing religion, NOT a religion to raise their children in and NOT a religion to try to understand). This is my testimony.” -G


I’d like to express my gratitude for waking up with my coffee and the news like a normal person instead of reading some boring-ass books with strange little metal arms that stick out.

Going to the doctor because I want to take care of myself and not being scared to do it.

Feeling joy.

Feeling sadness.

Listening to other people’s stories,problems,and whatever else they want to share without the crazy Christian Science filter.

Reading normal books.

Watching Little Women: LA, instead of falling asleep at a Wednesday evening testimony meeting.

Lazing around on a Sunday morning instead of falling asleep at a Sunday service.

Having sex or drinking a glass of wine with zero guilt.

Empathy.

Living and loving reality, the good and the bad.

And last but not least, feeling free.

In closing, I’d like to express my gratitude to my sister,for being brave enough to be the first to call bullshit and for helping me find my way out.  -M.


It is interesting to me that my entire life I craved true female friendships. (I had one now & again for a year, here and there, but we moved so often that I was never able to hold on to any!)

I prayed and prayed in Christian Science. Begging God to help me. Checked my motives – my motives were to love and be loved. Express love. And nothing came. For 40+ years. No true best friends who wanted to talk with me. Friends I could support when they were down. Friends I could rejoice with when they were up. I wanted friends who would support me when I was down and rejoice when I was up!

I had a few Christian Science female friends who would show up when I was happy and take my happiness like nourishment. Then chastise me when I could no longer give them pure happiness.

Over the years I decided that all the anguish I felt from the various experiences in the Christian Science faith was valid. And I should touch my toe to the water outside. I learned about Mother Nature and hugged a whole lot of trees and started to feel better! I learned I can talk to trees and gain comfort from their bark. I have learned to appreciate birds of all things, and flowers and the beauty everywhere! I learned to trust this Force. The beautiful energy surrounding Nature.

A friend of mine emailed me and asked me if I would ever like to talk about what it is like to leave Christian Science. I didn’t know what that meant, but I decided to try it anyway! And then another friend of mine and I had talked a lot when a family member of hers was struggling and in a hospital getting help. And I decided to introduce these two people to each other, to see if something like helpful communication and support could work. Lo and behold, all three of us have more in common thanks to our Krazy Sauce upbringing than I could have ever imagined!

Who knew that in order for me to get real female friendships I had to leave Christian Science?

I am so grateful for leaving Christian Science. I now have friendships. And these two friendships led me to connect with a few other acquaintances and lost friendships on the Ex Christian Science forum. And now I have met so many people and suddenly my life is full of abundant supportive compassionate friendships! The validation they gave me on one day alone was one of my most healing moments of my whole life. I sat under a brightly colored fall tree on a park bench just basking in the feeling of unconditional validation.

Thank you to the ExcCS admins for your helpful guidings and memes and thoughts. I am grateful for Ex Christian Science. –J.


I am very thankful that you run this website for Ex-Christian Scientists. In Germany, I  might be at the other end of the world, but  it makes me aware that I am not alone in my longterm experience on leaving Christian Science.

In fact, it is about 15 years ago that I resigned my Motherchurch membership – and some more few years that I started to discover a better life besides Christian Scinece.

This year I am paticularly “SO THANKFUL!!! ” that  I do not feel any guilt any more when I go to see  a doctor.

Getting older, I had a slight breathing problem on certain occassions. A year ago, I went to a dactor nearby to see on it. He sent me to several specialists. It turned out as a heart defect which could be some years old, now. According to the stae of the defect, I got a good diagnose, have now frequent checks on it using modern technology and get good advices how to adapt my daily life and still keep activities on a good level.  Okay, it is not yet totally healed. But it is not neglected any more and well treted.

Some times I had to think how it might have been handled in Christian Science, as far as I got to know similar cases as a former Chgristian Science nurse. I might have tried to pray on it on my own, called a Christian Science practioner or teacher. I might nhave not known about the hidden dangerous circumstances , might have done too heavy activities, might have had serious break downs that are not proper treated – and so even might have passed away within this year.

I think you might understand that I am really thankful this year that I had turned away from Christian Science. -I. 


I am grateful for the tough times that forced me to question, and ultimately to leave, Christian Science.

The president of Principia College held a reception for us graduating seniors, and I remember him saying that many of us would do well, and some of us would undoubtedly “fall flat on your face.” Well, I was one who fell flat on my face. I hit a series of dead ends after college. My marriage (to a Christian Scientist) unraveled. I lost two jobs, couldn’t find another, felt like I just didn’t fit anywhere. It was emotionally a tough time, and I had a growing realization that the fairy-tale mentality of Christian Science was holding me back from achieving maturity. It was a long process, but with a growing willingness to trust my instincts I made progress.

As I look back on those painful years of adjustment I realize that I was fortunate. Life has worked out far better than I had any right to expect. If I had stayed in Christian Science I am sure I would have continued to fail in many ways: relationships, family, career, health. I am grateful for the tough times that forced me away from the fantasy thinking that is Christian Science. –B. 


Thank you everyone for your contributions. 

Old Habits Die Hard

The following is a collection of contributions from members of the Ex-Christian Science collective about experiences seeking medical care and interacting with medical professionals.


Back in 2000, I had this scaly patch on my neck. After watching it grow and covering it with makeup for two years a friend said, “that looks like skin cancer – you’d better get that looked at!” Sure enough, it was basal cell skin cancer. I had it cut out, and I have a huge scar now. If I’d taken care of it early I probably would have just had a little stitch.

– Hilary


I have been pestering my husband to help me get my basic vaccines (I have zero), and he doesn’t get it that I don’t know how to go to a doctor or what to DO there. A friend who knows the medical field inside and out has offered to set things up with me and come along to hold my hand.

– Heidi


My non-Christian-Scientist cousins were after me to get a colonoscopy (I’m fifty-seven) and it was way overdue. I did so, and wouldn’t you know, I had cancer. Luckily it was stage one, but the doctor said it was a slow grower and had been in me ten years. I had it removed with two operations last spring and summer. I am the fourth generation in my family to have this problem. My grandmother and father died grisly deaths under Christian Science ‘treatment’ of this very thing. The surgeon at Mayo Clinic that said if I had waited six more months it would have spread to other organs. They think they caught it all, but I am having follow-up tests this week and next.

– Anonymous


At the very end of my second pregnancy, I am starting to have serious health problems: blood pressure ticking up, signs of pre-eclampsia, etc. So apart from being scared and disappointed, every time I go to one of my appointments I also find myself extremely angry and defensive. My sister helped me figure out that this has to do with an entire childhood of being blamed for every sickness—every cold, upset stomach, or stubbed toe was entirely my fault and had to be fixed only by me (while simultaneously being unreal of course). So when my OB points out that my blood pressure is not in a good range, what I hear is, “what did you do wrong that made your blood pressure so high?” Ugh, old habits die hard, I guess!

– Hilary


Recently, an alarming rash erupted over large parts of my body. I went to the emergency room at the local hospital, and the doctor who treated me humourously diagnosed me as being a “very sensitive guy.” It was his way of informing me that I was having an overly severe allergic reaction to something. I was prescribed an immune system suppressant, and some Benadryl. The rash cleared within a day. I’m glad the old habits of waiting before I go to a doctor about something are beginning to fade finally.

– Jeremy

I was crying from relief, not fear.

By Susanna, an Ex-Christian Scientist Group contributor. Susanna is a pseudonym, to ensure anonymity.


I had my first panic attack at the age of 28. It came on out of the blue, in the middle of the afternoon on a Thursday at work. I drove myself to the hospital thinking I was having a heart attack. I had never been admitted to a hospital before. Once the intake nurse took my blood pressure and determined that I wasn’t dying, she hooked me up to IV and I laid there quietly for about an hour.

A doctor came in, and she was exactly my age. She told me that what had happened to me was not ‘nothing.’ It was a cardiac event, but it was brought on by anxiety, not heart disease. She guessed, correctly, that I was about 30, single, and working in a demanding job where it was hard to keep my work/life balance. She said she saw women in exactly the same condition at least once a week.

I began crying immediately, which didn’t surprise her, until I told her that I was crying from relief, not fear. It felt like after thirty years of striving to look and be perfect, I was convulsing under the pressure, and here was someone telling me that it was normal to feel that way, that it was okay, and that she would help. I could walk out of the hospital and things could never be the same again. I didn’t have to just say, “Hallelujah, I’ve been healed!” and move on. I could acknowledge the challenge as both physical and mental, and use all the resources available—therapy, medication, self-care—to manage and ultimately overcome this.

The doctor prescribed me some anti anxiety medication. I took it several times in the next year or so, maybe before a big meeting when I felt myself getting anxious.  At some point I threw the rest away and haven’t needed it since.