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.
My Second Lump. (Part 1)
After that first cyst was removed in high school, over the years I had many cysts develop in various places on my body, and melt. I got used to them. I always prayed and they always went away. I always thought they were “healed.”
Somewhere before I became a church member (early 2000s?), I started having shoulder issues. I went to a massage therapist weekly trying to get the pained muscle to loosen up. I am not sure massage worked. (I felt like such a rebel, since massage is also not allowed in Christian Science.) I started having shoulder cartilage issues. I chalked it up to being a lifetime violin player. I tried physical exercise and massage therapy and nothing worked. At some point, a lump appeared, and while I am forgetting all the specific history, I remember finally going to a dermatologist.
He said it was fatty tissue probably, and I paid him to remove it. He used only novocaine, and the procedure hurt like he was tearing my skin, though he assured me he wasn’t. It hurt so badly. The next day, the lump was back. The lump was back the next day. In my Christian Science thinking, this meant that I had clearly not healed my thought about it, thus, painful surgery was for naught. I have since deduced that there must have been 2 lumps, and the 2nd one was never removed and simply moved over to the space that was now vacant after surgery. It took me years to become ok getting it removed again. In the meantime, it grew and grew and wreaked havoc all over my whole shoulder, neck and arm area (see: My Second Lump – Part 2). And I prayed and prayed in Christian Science to no avail.
Starting in maybe 2009, I started church bouncing to other denominations. I tried a Quaker church near that 3rd branch church and went there for 6 weeks. It was just too far.
I went to a Unitarian Universalist Church, and the anti-Christian sentiment there was too strong for me. I never complained about it, but I heard other Christians complaining about it. I asked them if I could have a Christian Science Thanksgiving service there on Thanksgiving, and the ministers said, “it’s just not our mission.” And I felt shoved out. I thought it was a church that was supposed to accept all beliefs, but it wasn’t my experience when I was there. They accepted Ex Jews, Ex Catholics and Buddhists as far as I could tell, and I wasn’t any of those categories. I tried Unity next, and had a falling out that I repaired recently (3 years later) with the woman who leads the children’s education. So, Unity (an offshoot of Christian Science – you can google it https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emma_Curtis_Hopkins , https://smile.amazon.com/Emma-Curtis-Hopkins-Forgotten-Religion/dp/0815629338?ie=UTF8&*Version*=1&*entries*=0 ) didn’t work for me either. At Unity, I learned that Christian Science is part of the “New Thought Movement,” though I know that Christian Scientists would absolutely disagree about being placed into any category like that. (Christian Scientists say they hate categories.)
Interestingly enough, the first time I walked in the door, someone pointed out someone else who had found Unity as an Ex-Christian Scientist. I introduced myself to him and he said, “Well, you know, Mary Baker Eddy’s writings are all plagiarized from Phineas Quimby.” I was horrified! My dad had written a paper at university with research by Robert Peel all about how she did not plagiarize (this paper can be found in the Mary Baker Eddy Library archives: http://www.marybakereddylibrary.org/about/contact/research-questions/). After my dad’s death, I have learned the truth: yes, she did. Absolutely. (And I went through heartbreak that my dad had been completely fooled by Robert Peel all those years ago.) The whole “divinely authorized” thing is completely bogus. Sorry to break it to any CS folks reading this, but there are documented resources. Quimby’s own writings for side-by-side comparison can be found cheaply on Amazon. https://smile.amazon.com/Quimby-Manuscripts-Phineas-Parkhurst-ebook/dp/B00O0AFXOY?ie=UTF8&keywords=phineas%20quimby&qid=1464963913&ref_=sr_1_2&sr=8-2
Time for me to take this “going to doctors thing” a bit more seriously…
Earache Story (Part 2)
A few years after leaving branch church membership, I wasn’t feeling well. I may have had the flu or bronchitis brought on by allergies that got worse every year (though I never knew they were allergies; I just knew it was what I called in my head “seasonal issues”); they were starting to come twice a year now instead of once a year, and were getting prolonged for weeks. My son who had the ear issues from years before (remember the painful ear that never drained the next day?), also wasn’t feeling well. He did not want to go to the doctor with me, but I felt it was the right idea. So I made him go with me. We were both so scared. But we went anyway. The doctor diagnosed both of us with bronchitis, and gave us a prescription for antibiotics. Then she looked at my son and said, “does anything else hurt?” He said, “my ear hurts sometimes.” She pulled out the thing they use to look in ears, and saw something in there that didn’t belong. She showed me. She tried to get it out, but it made him scream in pain.
She said, “we need to get that out of there.” She said it was resting on his ear drum, so every time they barely touched it, it hurt him terribly. So she said, “we need to put him under so we can get it out of there.” Oh my gosh, I was so scared. I mean: really scared.
I thought they were basically telling me, “we are going to kill your son, when would you like to make the appointment for?” It took a whole lot of faith to be ok with this appointment, and to trust that he would wake up after having been “put under.”
I cannot emphasize enough how scared I was about it. I made the appointment for like 2 days later and did my best not to live with a high heart rate and panic mode the whole time. I took him to the hospital, having followed instructions about food and such. They told him the sleeping gas would “smell like smelly shoes.” And he laughed. When they put the mask on his face, he shoved it away so hard and started yelling at them and yelling for me. I went into panic mode to save my son, and they had to usher me out of the room. I was a complete wreck. About 11 minutes later, they came to get me, and told me it had all been done in under 2 minutes, and he was waking up now. I was so relieved! He was fine!! They showed me what had been in his ear: it had been a very small pirate coin from a toy pirate set (https://www.amazon.com/PLAYMOBIL%C2%AE-5135-PLAYMOBIL-Pirates-Ship/dp/B004P5O8MM ). My husband (who is a magician), joked, “he is the first person to actually take a coin out of his ear!” We still have that coin in a surgical container around here somewhere.
Around that point, I also started going to a dermatologist for skin issues I have always had. I have keloids on my shoulders. I have some moles on my back that are pretty big, thanks to “not believing in sun block.” I also have acne, and have had acne since 4th grade. I was never allowed to use benzoyl peroxide. That was completely forbidden. The amount of teasing “why don’t you take care of that, it’s so easy!” And my stubborn sense that “no, if I do that, it won’t be healed! I have to heal it!” Is such a bunch of silliness. Why let a child be tortured for decades when a solution is so easy? Now that I am over 40 years old, almost 45, I have discovered Noxema and benzoyl peroxide. Wow. What a miracle cure! (And I keep forgetting to use it! #NoThankYouChristianScience)
I had prayed and prayed about the lipoma on my back. It had come back immediately after that first surgery, and it was not being healed in Christian Science. This was such a big struggle for me. I fervently felt like “God must want me to have this, so it’s not being healed, so it is here so that I can grow spiritually and heal it.” And at some point, after having worked with so many practitioners and also my Teacher on this issue for years, I finally decided to walk away from branch church membership and walk towards “going to doctors.”