“A mother’s affection cannot be weaned from her child, because the mother-love includes purity and constancy, both of which are immortal. Therefore maternal affection lives on under whatever difficulties.”
The following musings on Mother’s Day have been submitted by an anonymous Ex-Christian Scientist Group contributor. This is part 2 of 2, part 1 was shared on May 14, 2017.
A few years ago, I walked away from my bio mom. It has been a painful but necessary thing to do for my own peace. I could no longer handle the verbal abuse, and the pain I felt after any contact with her affected my ability to be a good mom for days and days until I could get over it. This year, I walked away from my ex step mom, too. I have been reading a book about codependency by Melody Beattie, and I am finding that it defines the relationship I had with my ex stepmom to a “T.”
I worked and worked for a perfectionistic stepmom who hated me, even though she truly believes that she loves me. She thinks she is expressing love. If I ever told her, “your attitude or behavior is hurting me,” she turned into a crying mess for at least 45 minutes, then would bring up her own pain for almost 2 months or even longer. “No one else has ever given me feedback like that,” she has said on at least two occasions. That does not make my own pain invalid. My pain is valid.
Before she even met me, I am certain she thought I was an evil child and that she had to basically drive the devil out of me. No matter what I said, she was always right and I was always wrong. She taught me to smile no matter what. She taught me never contradict her. She slapped me if I contradicted her. But she could contradict me whenever she pleased. It didn’t matter how petty something was, she contradicted me about it mercilessly. She also gaslighted me. Constantly. It’s a Christian Science thing. Telling people they are well even when they are not. It’s constant. This is crazy making behavior.
Christian Scientists consistently believe they are happy and being loving even when it’s clear their entire demeanor is filled with rage. They deny their own rage. They have no word for it. How can you see something you don’t have a word for?
Healthy, well balanced, normal people do not do something and call it “loving” when it’s done with rage. But, you see, in Christian Science, there is no anger. No “negative” emotions are allowed. Ever. They can’t possibly believe they are angry. To paraphrase a new popular skit: “They can only be happy. They can only be smiling. No one — no one can be sad!”
I am so grateful to say that both times I have had to walk away from an abusive mother figure of mine, the Ex Christian Science forum on Facebook has been there with me. I feel sad that too many people relate to what I say and share. These kind people applaud me for taking steps out of bad relationships. I am finally learning I can be 100% honest with myself about real reality. If something is a spade, call it a spade. If it’s bad, call it bad. Name it. Do something about it. Sitting in your room with your hands folded in your lap and thinking good happy thoughts are not going to change anything. How does that popular saying go? “You can’t change other people, you can only change yourself.” I can’t change my step-mom, but I can change my life and not have her in it.
Now, to my own experience as a mom. My step mom constantly told me growing up that I would be a rotten mother. She taught me by example that in order to be a good mom, you need to be controlling. Don’t let a child get away with anything. Make them earn all their fun time. Make them earn playdates with friends. Make them earn toys, tv time, and for god’s sake, don’t ever let them watch more than 2 hours of tv per week. Unless, of course, step mom wants to. Then, of course, you can watch what she wants to.
Force them to spend every waking moment in activities they don’t even enjoy most of the time. “It’s good for them, and it’s how to produce a happy child.” No it’s not. It’s how to produce a mixed up and confused adult who doesn’t even know what they like and dislike, because all of the joy in life has been completely sucked out of them, and getting out of bed every day has become a chore instead of a – gosh – I don’t even know what it should be. I am told that so many people greet each new day as a gift. I’m working on it.
This woman also sucked all the joy out of eating for me. Eating was a chore to be done. Christian Science also teaches “there is no pleasure in matter,” and “the five senses don’t exist.” Thus, no pleasure in eating can be noted, either.
This woman forced me to eat foods I couldn’t stand. Every day. For every meal. I had no choice. I had no input. It has taken me decades to learn that there are a few foods that I can’t stand and also have allergies to. But I was never given a choice.
True story: One time, I had to eat food that I had thrown in the trash can because I so desperately didn’t want to eat it and wasn’t hungry for it. But I had to earn a play date, so I ate the food because I so rarely had a friend over, so I ate the sandwich out of the garbage, despite truly not wanting to eat at all.
With all the people I have known who grew up with a Christian Science mom, I have heard of less than a handful that were kind. These people are horrified at what the rest of us vocalize about our Christian Science moms. They are horrified. So many of us are estranged from our moms. Too many on the forum are watching their CS parent die a painful death while refusing medical care for simple things.
I am now a mom of my own children. The mom figures in my life taught me to be controlling and spank and punish. I was a horrible mom to my sweet children, one of whom is a special needs child. Christian Science told me only to pray about healing his special needs. It never helped me understand him.
After I left Christian Science, I learned that the merciful thing to do was to get him extensively tested by a psychiatrist. Therapy and psychiatric help are both strictly forbidden in Christian Science. Going to someone like this makes a “problem” more real. The psychiatrist told me the ways my son’s brain processes things. Now that I understand my son, I am a much better mom, and he is so much happier. We no longer try to control him and force him to do things like I had been taught to do. My son is starting to thrive now.
I have told things to my therapist that my step mom or a grandmother did to me, and she has looked at me and point blank said: “would YOU do that to YOUR child?” And I just break down, sobbing. “No way. I would NEVER do that to my child!”
It’s heart-breaking to think that Christian Science teaches women to be horrible moms. They take so much pride in being “perfect” that they miss the “good enough” in their own children. There is no allowance for being simply human. Because “matter isn’t real, therefore, humanity is definitely not real either.” Deny basic humanity, deny emotions, deny pain.
A person has been completely brain-washed to be able to spank their own child and then proclaim, “there is no sensation in matter!” Why spank them in the first place then? I believe as generations raised the next generation, things got worse and worse. Last week, my psychiatrist said to me, “I should stop being shocked at all that your step-mom subjected you to; it shouldn’t shock me anymore based on everything else I have heard!” Wow.
Sadly, the best way I have learned to be a mom is “to do the exact opposite of what BOTH of my moms would do.”
I am so glad to have broken away so I can now be a good and kind mom. This past week, I decided to be happy with the fact that my family loves to hang out together in the same room of our home, every day. We relax and feel safe, peaceful and loved as we hang out with each other. If someone is having a rough time (perhaps with a friend or a school assignment or a schedule issue), we just “sit beside” the person and support them the best we can, while validating their struggle, and letting them know “I am here, we are here with each other.” My children and my husband and I all feel safe at home.
I am learning that both of these mom figures in my life are narcissists. One thing a child of a narcissist learns is that they are only valued for “what they do” and not “who they are.” I am starting to glimpse what it’s like to be valued for who I am as a mom (kind, funny, playful, creative), and not for what I do (dishes and decorations and cleaning).
This year, for Mother’s Day, I will not be wishing either of my own moms a happy Mother’s Day. I don’t give two hoots about my own mother’s day. Every day, for me, is mother’s day. My kids love me, talk to me, hug me, tell jokes with me. They also tell me their secrets and ask me for help and support. They work hard, they do what I ask when I ask them. I don’t have to bully them. I celebrate them being in my life every day. I constantly tell them: “thank you for being in my life.”
By the way, I never planned to be a mom either. I know a few Ex Christian Science women who have no intention to ever become a mom. I believe in my own heart, that this is because they don’t want to inflict another victim with the pain that they themselves went through. Bravo to these brave women for knowing where to draw the line, and stop the abuse. It breaks my heart when well intentioned people judge them for not wanting to be a mom. They make their own choice. Leave them be. As the current saying goes: “you do you.”
I do want to share a few good things; because I feel like a lotus flower these days: from the mud, something beautiful blooms.
A few years ago a brand new friend of mine was extraordinarily kind to me. She has been the most kind mother figure to me that I have ever known. One day, my teenager randomly said to me: “what if she could have been your mom?” This made me weep. I would have loved to have this woman as my mom. She is just kind and gentle; she is smart and funny; she is compassionate, out-going, caring, and she just wants the best for everyone she has ever met. I am so grateful to count her as one of my best friends.
Also, the first therapist I went to is a mom of a teenage girl. She is a kind and empathetic person. She is funny and smart. I now go to a psychiatrist, who is also a mom of two gals. I can tell that she is also an extraordinary mom. Both of these professionals in my life assure me that my mom-skills are great, and that I am doing fine. One told me, “if you’re worried that you’re not a good mom, that means you ARE one.” I have been replaying this in my head now for several years and I am finally starting to feel like maybe I am a pretty good mom. I sure try darn hard at it.
Happy Mother’s Day to all of you who celebrate. I hope that if you have kids, you are a kind parent. I hope that you had a kind mom.
May you find peace and may you share peace with others. “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.”
“Whenever it’s possible, be kind. It is always possible.” – The Dalai Lama
The following musings on Mother’s Day have been submitted by an anonymous Ex-Christian Scientist Group contributor. This is part 1 of 2, part 2 will be shared on Wednesday, May 17, 2017.
Mary Baker Eddy loved it when her followers showed her reverence and called her “Mother.” There is a special room in The Mother Church reserved just for her, called “Mother’s Room.”
Ever since she died, no one is allowed to go in to it. If “matter isn’t real,” then how come they revere this space? It’s just matter. Why close it off? Let people go see it and walk through. It’s just a material room.
A Prayer for the Little Children By Mary Baker Eddy
Guard me when I sleep;
Guide my little feet
Up to Thee.
Eddy wrote that “Prayer for the Little Children” (found in Prose Works), that calls God: “Father-Mother.” I also have observed while sitting in endless church meetings, that Christian Scientists revere “Mother” more than they revere Christ Jesus. I think every woman in the Christian Science church wants to emulate Eddy as much as they can. It’s weird. That woman had serious personality issues. (In a religion that tells us to remove all sense of personality!) Christian Scientists frequently equate themselves to Christ Jesus, and it’s almost as if they equate Eddy to a reverence even above Jesus!
It has been my experience that as I get to know more and more Ex Christian Scientists, I consistently see that these very kind people have had major issues with their moms. I am developing a theory that all the moms in Christian Science who completely revere Eddy, try to emulate her. This is not a good thing.
As it’s Mother’s Day, I have been thinking about my own experiences with the mom figures in my life. Maybe this blog post will help uncover some of the issues Christian Scientists and former Christian Scientists have had with their moms, and why they walk away from the relationship, or why it’s so strained. Maybe this 2-part blog will resonate with people, maybe it won’t. (Part 2 will run on Wednesday.)
If there is one thing I see consistently in Christian Science moms, it’s a complete lack of empathy.
My parents both took Christian Science Nurse training, where they learned to fold sheets and put on band-aids without touching the white cotton part of the band-aid. They also learned how to take off band-aids. Apparently, this is vital information to become parents. They also learned how to change bed sheets and bleach a bathtub. (Please understand – there was no medical knowledge given to them. No administering of basic aspirin or cough syrup, no syringes, so splints, nothing. Nothing medical. No shots. No blood pressure readings, not even taking someone’s temperature, as far as I know, they don’t even feel a forehead.)
My great-grandmother A was a Journal-listed Christian Science Practitioner for decades and decades who absolutely revered Eddy. Like Eddy, my great-grandmother got married 3 times.
My Grandmother L was undoubtedly raised in Christian Science. I think it was great-grandmother A’s first husband who was L’s dad. But I am not sure. I don’t know much about L., because she died of an accidental suicide when my mom was a small child.
Great-grandmother A raised my mom and her siblings, with her third (extremely abusive) husband. These poor children were very young when their mother died. They were abused in every sense of the word. They were locked in dark closets for hours and hours, sexually abused, physically beaten, they were consistently denied proper food. One broke an arm a few times that was left to “heal” through prayer, despite even Eddy saying basically that having a bone set is perfectly reasonable to do. Their angry, controlling grandparents threw temper tantrums and destroyed the kids’ clothes and belongings, all while shouting Christian Science “truth” at these poor kids. Does this sound like a loving, wonderful religion you want to be a part of, and raise healthy kids in? I am positive that there was so much more that I am not even aware of.
My mom got pregnant with me even though she and my dad were on birth control. She knew she couldn’t take care of a child, so she left when I was a toddler. She subsequently married at least 3 more times that I know of. She followed Eddy’s example quite well in that regard, just as her grandmother had.
As an adult, we tried to reconcile, but it just seemed that the bulk of our conversations were criticisms directed at every aspect of my life. She constantly accused me of “being too sensitive,” and I just couldn’t take it. To maintain my peace, I had to walk away from her. I can’t handle constant criticism. It was just too painful for me to endure, so whereas she walked away from me when I was a toddler, I walked away when I was an adult.
My dad’s mom, Grandma E, took care of me at regular intervals. She was also incredibly critical and physically abusive to me; she paddled me with a board when she didn’t like me having my own opinion (Eddy doesn’t value opinions either, believe it or not).
In Christian Science mere opinion is valueless. – Science and Health, p. 341: 11
After I grew up & became a mom, a family member asked Grandma E: “do you regret doing hitting her with a board?” She replied simply: “no. I would do it again.”
Who does that to a child and then never regrets it? Hitting a child is abuse. Plain and simple.
My take away from my own personal experience is that women in the Christian Science church grow up hearing about (and bowing down to) Eddy and how “perfect” she was. We constantly hear that she was ultra meticulous. (Think: perfectionistic OCD, and highly critical.)
In Eddy’s household, sheets had to be folded exactly 4 inches over the top of the blanket. (Yes, I was taught this too, since of course Eddy knew the best way to make a bed.) Furniture had pins around the feet to make sure the furniture stayed in its proper place. I easily imagine Eddy barking orders.
She told the members of the church that if she called them to come serve in her household, they better recognize that as an enormous honor, and they better drop everything (including family) and come serve until she was done with them (after months or even years). (An excellent book to read about how cold Eddy was, is called “God’s Perfect Child,” by Caroline Fraser.)
Poor Calvin Frye tried to escape Eddy’s household by trying to fall asleep and never wake up, at least three times, but she woke him up from at least one Near Death Experience. She yelled at him each time until he woke up. He was probably completely exhausted from her sociopathic, passive aggressive shenanigans.
I believe women who have no empathy are attracted to the religion, or, if they grew up in it, it keeps them staying in it. They want to ignore anything painful, and pretend it doesn’t exist. Zosh’s recent blog post alludes to this denial of anything sad – “the first stage of grief.”
Eddy certainly didn’t have any empathy. She was all “holier than thou” all of the time. She forced people by guilt trip to come serve at her beck and call for as long as she liked, then she dismissed them just as swiftly if they irritated her or didn’t follow her ridiculous rules.
Eddy is a woman who once set fire to a closet of a home when she was kicked out and no longer allowed to live there. She was not mentally stable. She should have been in a mental institution, and she started a religion instead. Author Steven Pressfield discusses this phenomenon in his book, “The War of Art.”
My dad remarried to step-mom S. She, like almost every other Christian Science mom I have heard about, sent me to my room for being sick, and told me to read Science and Health and/or write a long gratitude list of things I was grateful for. If I was home sick, I was not allowed to do anything fun until I was healed. No tv, no “fun” food, no non-CS (like: fiction) books… nothing fun until I demonstrated my healing. Definitely no cough syrup or medicines of any kind. If my dad wasn’t feeling well and wanted to huddle under a number of blankets, she made fun of him for that, too. Heaven forbid someone who isn’t feeling well should want to be under a bunch of blankets. You know, that’s a material remedy too, of course.
Every time I did a household chore, S would “inspect” it. She always found something wrong and made me redo it. Every single time. She informed me that this was because she loved me, and other parents don’t love their children as much as she loved me. To rephrase for clarity: she told me she was overly critical and cruel to me because she loved me. I believed her. My mom had been the same way, as had Grandma E, so step-mom S saying this meant it must be true. My friends constantly told me she was so mean to me, and their parents weren’t like that at all. I had no concept for what a kind mom might look like or feel like. I have a few long time friends remind me of mean things S said that I had forgotten. (One friend recently reminded me how S would compare me to my best friend, and tell me how perfect this other friend was. How she wished I would be more like this other friend, because she was just born perfect. She pointed out my flaws by comparison and told me I needed to heal those and be more like my friend.)
While talking with my therapist recently, I learned that S abused my dad when his health started failing. My dad was never able to tell me that she abused him. But I have told my therapist about the things she did to him, and my therapist has point blank told me: “that’s elder abuse.” She told me: “if that situation had been reported, protective services would have removed him from the home.” I stared at my therapist. I had no emotion come to me when I heard these words. I must be numb to emotional pain. My therapist asked me, “how do you feel about that, hearing that your dad was abused?” I said, “I don’t know.” She said, “if that had been my dad, I would feel sad.” I realized she was right! I was sad! I started crying and then sobbed. My dad was physically and verbally and emotionally abused by this woman.
My dad never complained. He never had anyone to talk to. She didn’t get along with his siblings and she created a huge rift in the family, and this effectively kept him from confiding in his siblings and even his parents.
She constantly told us what we could not share outside the home. So many things were secret. Being sick was a secret. Vacations were a secret. Bad grades or mental health issues were a secret. This is unhealthy, and is a form of control.
After my dad died, S said “he died because he didn’t read enough Christian Science literature.” This is called “victim blaming.” I was horrified at her cold demeanor when she said this. This woman never shed a tear for her own parents’ death, and never shed a tear for her husband’s death. This woman thought “it’s a healing that I don’t feel grief!”
Um, no, this makes you a robot akin to a Stepford Wife. A person like this has a complete lack of empathy for someone else’s suffering. She was completely surprised when I was still deeply sad about my dad’s death only a week after he died.
Did you know that most Christian Science deaths don’t have an autopsy done? Because they don’t believe death is real. So, people don’t know why their young parent suddenly died. It is heart-breakingly sad! There is no autopsy, and the person is generally cremated, and then disposed of. That’s it. They are never spoken of again. As if they didn’t exist in the first place.
Good thing the human body has an amazing capacity to heal most of its issues, even without any intervention of any kind. It is because of this that so many of us who grew up in Christian Science survived childhood.
Mom’s religion is more important than me
She’d rather die than be
Treated for cancer with medical care
She puts her life in the hands of prayer
She’d rather die than change her mind
I stand by to watch and find
Her suffering in pain more every day
Slowly failing and wasting away
Less I can say and more that I can’t
Ignoring the room’s elephant
It’s hard to explain to you
Why her health is such taboo
Here I am, my mom is dead
Questions unanswered and things left unsaid
Feeling abandoned and betrayed
Wishing I meant more and my mom had stayed