Happy Father’s Day, Part 3: My dad’s final chapter

The following musings on Father’s Day are by ExCS Group Member and Contributor Chrystal. This is part 3 of 3.


As my dad’s condition got worse and worse, he stayed at home. For decades. He did his best. He kept a happy attitude. I think it was the last 2 or 3 days of his life that he finally lost his chipper attitude and gave up. Before that, for decades of horrendous Parkinson’s Disease ravaging his body, my dad kept his cheerful attitude. He was patient. He couldn’t speak, and most people didn’t have the patience to try to listen to him. I was always incredibly grateful when someone kind would actually sit and listen to him. Parkinson’s Disease is a disease that freezes up your body. It stops the throat from being able to swallow, the voice from being able to speak, the hand from doing something simple like brushing teeth or putting clothes on and off frequently (like for using the toilet). My dad could barely speak above a whisper. Each word was either strung together because he finally got the strength to speak it all, and we couldn’t understand, or it was one painfully forced out word at a time. Even in this condition, my dad still told jokes. Thankfully, for most of my life, he told the same jokes, so he would only need to refer to a word or two and we would know which joke it was that he was telling. My dad never deserved ANY of this.

While he was at home “being taken care of” by his wife, his hands turned black from dirt and lack of being washed. His teeth started to fall out from lack of good oral hygiene. (Remember, he couldn’t brush his own teeth anymore.) He couldn’t always make it to the bathroom and needed help most of the time once he was in there. So he often had a “potty jar” near him. (A large jug that laundry detergent comes in.) This was too often taken away from him, because his wife thought it was disgusting. It wasn’t until just a few months before he died that he got a real commode, and someone was hired to clean it out every morning.

My dad’s feet turned black from pacing the floor. His feet were so dirty. I never thought about it, and I didn’t live at home at the time. I was out of college and on my own. I came back for visits, but didn’t think much about all of it. My dad never complained. He was much too nice to complain. But he was being subjected to elder abuse. His wife hired Christian Science Nurses to come in to help. You know what sort of help they gave? They did the dishes. They emptied and loaded the dishwasher. Maybe they got my dad dressed, but I am not sure. They would come in for maybe an hour, 3 times a week. That was it. They were nice people. But were they actually doing any nursing? NO!

I remember my dad hiring a Practitioner to pray. She wasn’t listed in the Christian Science Journal, but was probably working towards that. She agreed to take his case even though he was on medicine. She was nice enough. Her bills were dutifully paid. My dad kept getting worse. (That Practitioner died too young a few years later, after losing her mobility and ending up in a wheelchair looking very frail.) The Christian Science Nurses were dutifully paid. My dad kept getting worse. My dad called other practitioners, even ones who were listed in the Christian Science Journal. My dad kept getting worse. He was on a full array of medicines. He kept getting worse. Every practitioner blamed my dad for his condition.

I remember coming home and seeing my dad’s filthy dirty glasses. I would clean them, and he would mouth, “thank you.” He loved that. A family member saw my dad at a family gathering with his black hands, and got a washcloth to wash his hands off. My dad mouthed “thank you” to this kind family member. Where was my dad’s wife during these things? Ignoring him. She has a never ending “to do list,” and takes daily hour long “prayer walks.” She did everything she could to avoid taking care of my dad. She hired people to come in. If she had to take care of him, she yelled at him constantly. I have yet to ever see a kind bone in her body appear. Oh yeah, that’s right, Mary Baker Eddy says that we aren’t made up of bones, therefore bones don’t exist.

I went to my dad’s house regularly during what turned into the last year of his life. I have never been trained in any way to take care of someone. I was a Christian Scientist at the time. I did my best, because I loved my dad. Another Christian Scientist came in every morning. We were having some sort of (mediocre) care for my dad around the clock at this point in his life. My dad was now struggling with Alzheimer’s and hallucinations. He needed to be watched so he wouldn’t hurt himself, mostly. He fell down all the time. He kept forgetting to use his walker and would launch himself across the room and fall. His falls shook the house consistently.

My dad also started having seizures. At one point, his breathing stopped. I was there at the home with the other person – a Christian Scientist who was hired to take care of him. My dad’s lips started to turn blue. I was basically hitting him and yelling at him saying, “Dad! Dad! Dad! Breathe! Dad! Breathe! Please, Dad! Breathe!” I was getting super upset. I yelled at the other woman to “Dial 911!” I hollered at her over and over. She laughed and laughed. She thought it was hilarious. She thought all of this was a joke. I was panicking and crying and screaming to get my dad to breathe and she was standing over there, laughing and laughing. Oh, I was also holding him up with my arms, because he would have fallen on the floor if I had let go. That’s why I couldn’t call 911, and desperately needed her to do it. My dad did eventually wake up from this seizure. I made a huge stink about this to his wife, and told her we could no longer give him the care he needed. He needed better care, he needed around the clock medical care at that point. He needed to go in to a care facility.

She and I both knew very clearly how much he never wanted to go to a care facility. So, she did what she did best; she controlled the information she gave to him. She was going away for a weekend to a Christian Science Retreat. She told him that she was going to put him in a senior care facility an hour away, and she would come get him in a week. My dad fought the idea, but eventually acquiesced.

After a few days, she visited him. He begged her to take him home. At this point, she had decided this would be his permanent arrangement. She told him in one way or another, “oh, you’re here for now,” or she avoided the topic all together: “I’ll be back next week.” My dad would try to speak as she left the room, “I want to go home,” and she would act like she hadn’t heard him. Finally, after a month of these shenanigans, she made it clear he wasn’t coming home. My dad stopped eating. He nearly starved to death. He was so dehydrated. His tongue was shriveled up, it was so dry. One of his arms was horribly swollen and scary looking. The facility rushed him to a hospital. The hospital staff said he would die within 48 hours.

At this point, it became apparent that we had to tell his dad and my dad’s siblings that my dad might die soon. They all rallied and came to visit him. To say their goodbyes. Because of the amazing medical care, my dad got better. His wife was so excited to see him drinking water. I sat there, seething at her, for having put him in this position. I had no clue what to do about any of it. But he was clearly getting horrendous care at this so called “senior care facility.” My dad drank water and drank water. He was so thirsty. He was released back to the senior care facility. His family came to visit him there. We all thought he would be okay. She thought that him drinking water was a healing. Because, of course it was. No mention of the IVs in his arm giving him fluids and sustenance over night and the medical nurse stationed at the doorway 24/7.

Within a month, my dad was on hospice. He’d made a few more trips to the Emergency Room for either pneumonia, dehydration or starvation. He had a very bad fall and cracked his head open. This required many stitches. I have since learned that when a person has a very bad fall, they may lose the ability to do basic things, like eating. It may not happen that same day, but within a few days, it may be clear that they don’t know how to eat. So people in a good care facility watch to see if someone who has had a fall, is still able to feed themselves. My dad forgot how to eat. No one noticed. He was living an hour away in a senior “care” home. His wife visited him once a weekend, for maybe a few hours at a time. The staff kept such horrendous records that they had no clue that he would go 3 days at a time with no food or water.

My dad was put on hospice. Hospice is actually a wonderful thing for people to be put on. It’s completely paid for by the state. There are no bills that come. Often, hospice buys the person a brand new bed. The bed is made to be as comfortable as possible. Nurses and doctors come and go and check on the person all day long. They read charts and administer pain killer including morphine. They listen to the patient and they will even play games with them. My dad made friends with his hospice nurses. My dad taught his hospice nurses to play Poker. The nurse looked at my dad, as he lay there, on the floor (to keep him from falling), and said, “he says I’m doing it wrong, don’t you?” And my dad smiled with his eyes. He had that happy glint in his eyes, the glint of laughter, even when he was on hospice care and had less than a week to live.

The previous summer, the doctor had given him a clean bill of health, saying he was going to live another 10 years. That was late one summer. By Christmas, my dad was in hospice and died before he saw the New Year.

Through it all, he always hoped to be healed through Christian Science. The last time he interacted with someone was with me. He was in pain, and on hospice treatment. I asked him, “do you want pain medication?” and he shook his head, “no.” I could see in his eyes that he was STILL hoping for a Christian Science Healing of the Parkinson’s Disease he had lived with for 25+ years. He was put on morphine the next morning. He was still a few years away from being 70, and he died.

After he died, I hit heavy grief. Of all the things that had happened to me through the course of my life as a Christian Scientist, this was the final straw that propelled me out of Christian Science completely. My kind, amazing, wonderful, sweet, friend-to-everyone, creative Dad died. His wife and I were talking about 1 month after he died. She was surprised that I was grieving his death. I seethed inside, that she had no pain about his death at all. She just went on with her life, glad to be done with the burden. She brags that she never shed a tear for either of her parents’ death, nor for my dad’s death. The woman is a stepford wife robot. She thinks she is loving and proclaims herself to be so. But all I see is cruelty.

In her surprise, she asked me why I was still grieving my dad’s death (only weeks later) and why was I so mad at Christian Science? I told her, “if ANYONE deserved a healing, it would have been my kind and amazing dad!” I choked out those words, I could hardly speak from the pain of it.

Her response?

She said, “Don’t you think if he had read more Christian Science literature that he would have been healed?”

Victim Blaming. That is clear victim blaming. You can read about Victim Blaming Here and more about it here. Christian Scientists are champions of victim blaming. If a person hasn’t received a healing through Christian Science Treatment, it’s their own fault for “not understanding it enough.” A Quaker Friend of mine who is also a doctor calls this, “the blame theory of disease,” so it’s not just a Christian Science thing.

To my dad:

You didn’t deserve any of this. You didn’t cause ANY of this. None of it was your fault. You were trampled by a horrible mom, then married two women who also trampled you horribly because you were denied therapy to help you understand your own pain growing up in such a horribly unsupportive home. You never deserved to be controlled or abused. If I had known then what I know now (after years of my own real psychotherapy to heal my own grief, anxiety, depression, ADHD), I would have turned your case over to a state agency. They would have inspected your home decades ago and taken you away from that abusive situation.

 

You cleaned up after me when I was a child. You were always kind to me. Above all, you taught me what kindness is, and through this example, I could see clearly what kindness isn’t. Thank you. I love you forever.

After my dad died, about 2 evenings later, I was watching the sunset, and thinking about my dad as I stood there, crying. I felt as if he came to me. I know some people will say I sound crazy, but I’m not the only person who has stories to share like this. If this was my imagination soothing me, so be it. It felt like my dad came to visit me. He was so excited. He was once again the happy man he was when he was between wives, and it was just the two of us living together. He was running around, with his healthy legs, and goofy grin. He was so excited to meet all these amazing historical people in the afterlife. He was talking with all of them and learning their stories. I feel strongly that my dad is now living the happy life he always wanted to – meeting interesting people, and listening to their fascinating stories. I feel like my dad is finally happy, eager, enjoying life. What he found too little of in this material life, I feel he has gained in the afterlife. I still miss him terribly, but I am glad to fervently feel that he is finally happy now.

Now, I’m off to call my dad’s dad and wish him a “Happy Father’s Day!” I am glad that he turned to medical care when he needed it. As a result, my kids have gotten to know him and he is still around to visit with and talk with. He is the last grandparent my kids have, and they love him so much.

Happy Father’s Day, Part 2: Living with Parkinson’s Disease

The following musings on Father’s Day are by ExCS Group Member and Contributor Chrystal. This is part 2 of 3, part 3 will be shared on Sunday, June 25, 2017.


My dad’s first wife was never ready to be a mom. After she potty trained me (her only child), she left. She has appeared a few times in my life over the last 40+ years, but she has been mostly missing my whole life. My dad and I lived in subsidized housing for years. Then, he met his second wife, who earned a respectable income as a teacher several states away. My dad and I moved. As a child, I felt like she threw away probably all of our possessions except maybe my dad’s typewriter, a lamp his brother had made him, and my dad’s bed. As far as I know, none of my possessions moved with us to this new location. Well, except my favorite stuffed animal, which was later stolen by my bio mom “to remember me by.” (I found it in her possession 10 years later, horribly dirty, ruined and mangled, having been carelessly treated.)

One of the weirdest things I have observed with Christian Science is the control of information. In a future blog, I will talk about severe neck pain I endured as an adult, and how I hid in my house, forbidding anyone to visit me, essentially. It’s a common thing in Christian Science to keep knowledge secret. If you don’t speak out loud what a problem is, then the problem won’t be made more real. So, for god’s sake, keep your mouth shut about anything important. If you tell someone something good, they will naturally feel jealous (what control Christian Scientists think they have over other people’s emotions!), and that makes them break The 10th Commandment, and that will bring “Malicious Animal Magnetism” to your good thing, so it will be destroyed. If you tell them something bad, they will not be able to help you at all, and you have just voiced that a seeming problem might exist, and by breathing words into it, it’s now completely real, and harder to heal.

Listening to Christian Scientists give their Wednesday evening “testimonies,” is quite interesting. They sound quite a lot like this –

“I had the supposed belief of what might have been a cold. [Note: no symptoms.] I prayed to feel God surrounding me. I felt God’s presence open up to me as I read ScienceAndHealthWithKeyToTheScripturesByOurBelovedLeaderMaryBakerEddy. I knew clearly this idea of a cold could never be a part of ME! Because I am God’s Perfect Child, I am made in God’s Pure Reflection. There is no spot where God is not. I knew I was fully healed in that moment. And then, several days later, the symptoms released completely. iAmSoGratefulForChristianScience.”

My dad’s second wife was one of the most controlling people I have ever met. One thing she controls with an iron fist is “information.” If she wanted to tell a secret in front of my dad, she would say it in a secret “language” that he couldn’t understand. It’s similar to Pig Latin, but it’s not Pig Latin. We could teach this stupid language to our friends. It’s supposed to just be a little secret code that kids talk to each other in. It shouldn’t be used to abuse someone by keeping information from them. This is one example of her sense to control. My dad and I could both write upside down, backwards in cursive. Guess what. She couldn’t read it. My dad and I would write little notes about Christmas surprises. Well, she couldn’t read it, so that was banned. But this ban didn’t keep her from using her secret language. She spoke it faster and faster over time, knowing my dad couldn’t understand it if she spoke as fast as she could go. My dad objected when she did this, but she steamrolled over him as if she was more important than he was. Her whole intention to do this sort of thing was to inform her kids of something and have my dad stay completely in the dark on the issue.

My dad’s wife wouldn’t let him use the bathroom in the house to pass a bowel movement. I wish I was exaggerating. I remember my dad running in to whatever place we had just driven to, to go use the bathroom. She said, “you make a mess at home, so you’re not allowed to use the bathroom.” My dad was forbidden to use the bathroom in his own home. Holding toxins in is a horrible thing to subject someone’s body too. Toxins are meant to be released, not held in. (He knew how to clean up the “it’s just matter!” Why not just ask him to clean up after himself?)

It is my feeling that this directly contributed to my dad contracting  Early Onset Parkinson’s Disease that probably started in his mid 40s. At first he tried to treat it with only Christian Science.  

After a few years of trying Christian Science – in earnest – my dad was getting worse. His wife mentioned to their practitioner, “his thumb is still trembling.” Her less than compassionate response was, “he is still dealing with that?” She was exasperated that HE hadn’t healed it yet. Yeah. That’s because Christian Science doesn’t heal. At all. Let alone the fact that as the Practitioner, it’s HER JOB to heal him. Because if HE could do it, he wouldn’t have called her in the first place!

My dad and his siblings were raised in Christian Science (and left it, thank goodness). Two of his siblings and their spouses called my parents when they learned he was struggling with Parkinson’s and that it was becoming worse and worse.

At this point, he was now realizing his all time worst fear – he was in a Christian Science Nursing home. He needed full time care. The disease he lived with every day, had become rapidly worse, thanks to having no medical intervention at all. My understanding is that with early medication, the disease could have been radically slowed. My dad went from a fully capable person running his own business, traveling, speaking on TV, being in the news a lot, reporting on important topics of the day, to, within 2 years, becoming incapable of brushing his teeth and needing to wear diapers. He couldn’t do anything on his own any more. Parkinson’s Disease completely ruined his life. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. Especially not my loving, kind, caring dad, creative, incredibly smart and funny dad.

My dad’s siblings and their spouses strong-armed my dad and his wife to make my dad go the medical route. My dad was in his 40s and had young children who needed their dad, not an invalid in a nursing home. So, my dad went the medical route. Being a Christian Science family, this was hidden as best it could for a long long time. Over time, my dad’s body froze again, and the Christian Science Church they were long time members at eventually kicked him out of the two activities he loved to do – being a Sunday School Teacher and being an usher at the door.

Because my dad’s comic book collection had been thrown out decades earlier, and he had been raised by a fear-filled hoarder that had survived the Great Depression, my dad was also somewhat of a packrat. He was able to keep it organized until Parkinson’s hit him, though. You might think that someone living with Parkinson’s Disease would be treated kindly and supportively by their spouse. At least most of the time.

However, at one point, when my dad had been dealing with Parkinson’s for more than 10 years and had rare moments when he could see and move clearly and clean up after himself, his wife said to him: “after you die, we are throwing all of this away!” My dad told her, “that’s a really mean thing to say.” He rarely spoke up to her. He rarely griped about her. He was far too kind. He did sometimes tell me that she was just awful and overly mean. This breaks my heart. He never dreamed of leaving her, and out of some sort of weird obligation, or more likely, “look at me, I am such a good person I won’t leave him and will take care of him,” she never left him either. The next blog post will share how “well” she “took care of him.”

Eventually, my dad’s (second) Christian Science Teacher told him not to come back to Association. He was too “distracting.” My study of The Holy Bible says that Jesus called the woman To him. The woman who was bowing down – he called her TO HIM. He didn’t say, “go away, you’re a distraction.”

And He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And, behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no way lift herself up. And when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. And He laid His hands on her; and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.

Luke 13: 10-13

My dad’s Christian Science Teacher did other horrible things, and one of these days I am sure I will get off my duff and write a letter to the Christian Science Board of Education and tell them what this clod did to my dad personally, and what inappropriate comments I heard him say in a Christian Science lecture all those years ago. I haven’t yet, but one of these days.

Happy Father’s Day, Part 1: It’s Just Matter

The following musings on Father’s Day are by ExCS Group Member and Contributor Chrystal. This is part 1 of 3, part 2 will be shared on Wednesday, June 21, 2017.


It being Father’s Day and all, I would love to tell you about my dad. He was the most kind man I have ever known. He died a few years ago. I think about him all the time. I just woke up from a dream where I was visiting him and we were being goofy together. I enjoy seeing him in my dreams and I wake up from them feeling wistful.

This mini (3 part) blog series is a small peek into his life.

My dad was the oldest of 4 siblings. His mom converted to Christian Science, which is what his dad was. Both of my dad’s parents lived through “The Great Depression.” Grandma was a hoarder and very negative. Grandpa was an inventor and an amazing mathematician. My Grandpa made friends everywhere he went. He is in his 9th decade now, and all of his friends are dead. My dad also made friends everywhere he went. When I was a child, I remember my dad introducing me to what felt like practically the whole town. He knew everyone and they all loved him. He was so kind and funny. How could anyone not like him and want to be friends with him?

My dad collected comic books. All of them. He kept them very well packaged under his bed, in a box, in plastic sleeves. I guess at some point, his mom decided they were “junk,” so, despite her hoarding tendencies, she threw them all out. My dad set about collecting them again, and never got over the fact that she had thrown them out. They were valuable. His collection eventually paid for his first home, and then his second home.

My dad’s biggest hobby was photography. He loved it. He carried that camera everywhere – all the time. He was never without it. If my dad didn’t earn straight A’s in school, his mom took away his camera for a minimum of a week at a time, which felt like absolute torture to him.

Grandma always had a leg problem. She fell while traveling one year, and went to a doctor to deal with it. That shocked our whole family – that the Christian Science matriarch of our family went to a doctor. She had problems with that leg for the rest of her life. At the time, I was told that she eventually died because she fell out of bed & couldn’t walk. She was rushed to the emergency room and died like 48 hours later. (I later learned that it’s likely she had a stroke. This makes sense because as she lay in the hospital dying, she couldn’t speak.)

Grandpa wore contact lenses, and I remember the judgement he and Grandma had for themselves – they both drank decaf coffee at McDonalds and Grandpa wore the contact lenses. As a result, both thought they weren’t great Christian Scientists. Though both served the church as much as they could, their whole lives. Grandma dutifully arranged flowers for the church every Sunday. And Grandpa still ushers, though he is in his 90s and has had a few surgeries and STILL feels guilty for not being “a perfect Christian Scientist.”

Obviously, I am blogging on this web forum, so I am an Ex Christian Scientist. It breaks my heart to see my grandpa feeling “less than.” He is a kind, intelligent, thoughtful, generous gentleman. I would love to help him find his way out of Christian Science. He feels like a failure. But – he’s NOT. He in no way resembles a failure. He’s an amazing person, loved by so many people. (Happy Father’s Day, Grandpa, I love you so much, and my kids love you so much too.)

I would love to see my grandpa break away from the guilt he feels about drinking decaf coffee and the various surgeries he has had over the years due to “not being a good enough Christian Scientist,” but he is in his 9th decade, and I can’t change his whole life now. His friends are there at the church, his security is there, he knows how to drive (yes, drive!) to the church… That seems cruel to me, to get him to leave the church.

Well, back to my dad. He went through Christian Science nurse’s training. Having spent a few years training to be a Christian Science nurse, then actually being one, my dad’s biggest fear was to get put in a Christian Science nursing facility. In his experience, “no one ever left them alive.” Later, my dad was completely terrified of being put in a nursing facility. Not just a Christian Science one.

At one point, while working as a nurse in training, he was asked to clean a dead body. My dad was horrified and very scared to do this. He called up his Christian Science Teacher (who was eventually kicked out of the church due to cruelty), and she said to him, “it’s just matter.” This spoke to my dad somehow. And my dad was able to go clean up this dead body. Over the years, my dad was very good at cleaning up bodily fluids and dead animals on the road and things. It always made him deeply sad to see a rabbit or cat or dog on the road that had been run over, but he would promptly clean it up to save neighbor kids from seeing the animal bloody and dead on the street.

I remember being a little girl, and waiting too long to use the bathroom. I peed all over the floor in the bathroom. I completely missed the toilet. My dad quietly cleaned it all up. It has been probably 40+ years since that happened, and I still think about that. My dad never once yelled at me. He was the kindest man I’ve known. After my dad died, I realized that my dad’s dad is also one of the kindest men I have known. I wish both of them had been able to marry a kind woman.

In my dad’s case, he married two women who were both cruel. Thankfully, my bio mom had the good sense to leave. But my step-mom – everything I have ever told anyone about what she does and how she treats me, looks at me with shock. They are shocked at how cruel she was. I don’t want to go into all of it here. Christian Science women and Christian Science moms, it’s crazy how many stories I have heard of cruel Christian Science moms. It’s heart-breaking.

But, these posts are about my dad.

(To Be Continued.)

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

Why would anyone join? My Father’s Story

Originally published on kindism.org, reprinted with permission in honor of Father’s Day.


A little while back I ran my piece on the five questions I’m commonly asked by people when they find out I was raised in Christian Science. I wanted to go back and elaborate on question four:  

Why would anyone join?

Christian Science promises amazing results. Committee on Publications bloggers regularly run articles about healthcare and quantum physics that make Christian Science appear to be a viable alternative to modern medicine and scientific.

The Committee on Publication did not always have bloggers; in previous years they’ve relied heavily on the Church’s publishing house to churn out vast quantities of literature: The Sentinel, The JournalThe HeraldThe Christian Science Monitor (formerly a well-respected daily newspaper), and other various pamphlets that was regularly distributed wherever free literature could be left, hairdressers, laundromats, airports, waiting rooms, etc. Branch churches had ‘literature distribution committees’ where little old ladies would dole out piles of lit to people to spread the word.

Most Christian Scientists are white, educated, middle-class  Americans. Christian Science appeals to a pseudo-intellectualism: Christian Scientists are smart enough to read and understand Ms. Eddy’s works. Christian Scientists understand the True nature of God and the Universe. The weekly Bible lessons contain topics such as Is the Universe and Man Evolved from Atomic Force?

There is also the added layer of mystical spiritualism and Biblical prophecy, which appeals to those seeking Higher Truths and Deeper Meaning. In his work, Christian Science, Mark Twain quotes one of Ms. Eddy’s students explaining this:

“We consciously declare that Science and Health, with Key to the Scriptures, was foretold, as well as its author, Mary Baker Eddy, in Revelation x. She is the ‘mighty angel,’ or God’s highest thought to this age (verse 1), giving us the spiritual interpretation of the Bible in the ‘little book open’ (verse 2). Thus we prove that Christian Science is the second coming of Christ-Truth-Spirit.”—Lecture by Dr. George Tomkins, D.D. C.S.

These methods, appealing to higher intellect, promising higher truths, deeper meaning, secret knowledge, are marketing and mind control techniques (for more on that see Dr. Linda Kramer’ YouTube talk).

So why would anyone join?

I can not answer that, but I can relate the story of  my father’s conversion, as I have pieced it together from stories he told me from his childhood and adventurous past.

My father was born in the 1930s and grew up in the deep south. He had well off middle class parents, and although they were not Catholic, he and his younger brother were educated in private Catholic Schools. My father never really mentioned religion playing a role in his childhood, from what I’ve gathered they were generically protestant, if church played any role it was likely for social gatherings.

In college, my father joined the ROTC and, shortly there after, the Army in Officer Training. World War 2 was coming to an end and the Cold and Korean Wars were getting started. My father ended up on the front of the Cold War in Europe. There was quite a lot of stress and uncertainty, I think it was around this time heavy drinking and smoking became part of his regular routine.

After a stint in the army, my father moved back to the south, joined the Freemasons, seeking, in part fraternity, answers to the larger mysteries of the Universe, and self-betterment. He began a high stress and physically demanding career. After a few years, he moved into a management desk-job and the stress (and heavy drinking and smoking) continued.

It was around this time my father started having vague health issues, sleeping poorly, feeling generally unwell, hearing random telephones ringing in the middle of the road (in the days before cell phones everywhere), etc. As he told the story, he visited his doctor who found “nothing wrong” (it was the mid-1960s) and recommended he “talk to his priest” because clearly he was spiritually troubled. My father’s priest was no more helpful than his doctor.

With the priest and doctor both pointing the finger at the other and neither being able to assist with his ailments, my father decided there had to be another solution. I don’t know the exact time line, but I know my father attended some Dale Carnegie courses, read widely (he was quite inspired by Pierre Lecomte du NoüyRichard Bach, and various others) and actively sought ways to better himself and explain the questions of the universe. Somewhere along the way he came across Christian Science.

I don’t know how my father came across a copy of Science and Health, but apparently he was reading it on a trans-Atlantic flight (while having a stiff drink), and he put down his drink and “never had a drink again” — I know that’s not true, he did have the occasional something every now and then, but never to the excess of his pre-Christian Science days.

From that day in the late 1960s onward, my father became a Christian Scientist. With his nasty (and expensive) habits of drinking and smoking behind him, his health improved. He went through Class Instruction in 1970. He was an active church member, teaching Sunday School, heading up the Christian Science Org at the local university, bringing people into the fold, and providing mentoring and guidance.

My father’s drinking was replaced by a different habit: every year he (and my mother) would fly to the East Coast for his Christian Science Association. Regardless of how tight money was, or how busy their children’s lives were, everything would stop and they would go for the weekend. My sister and I used to go with them, but as we got older (and “school started earlier”) we were foisted off on friends for the weekend, until we were finally old enough to be trusted to be home alone. More than one trip to association was a “demonstration of supply” as airline miles, credit card points, and great hotel deals unfolded.

On the more practical front, he’d needed glasses since his high school days (possibly sooner), so he continued with his regular eye appointments. Routine dental work was also something he continued with — he had several bothersome teeth, but visiting doctors ceased to be something he did.

Perhaps the memories of 1930s medicine kept him away, or the doctor’s inability to figure out what was wrong with him, but doctors were no longer part of his life, to my father’s credit he never ranted about or disparaged them the way my mother did. When he was checked into the hospital after his first stroke and congestive heart failure (in his early 70s), he made it quite clear he’d been “in Christian Science longer than [they] had been alive!” — 30+ years, and as long as you have good health (or are totally ignorant of underlying problems), Christian Science works great.

There are many reasons people join religious movements. Why did my father join Christian Science? I don’t know for sure, perhaps it was the intellectual self-betterment angle, the promise of deeper knowledge, or the failures of his priest and doctor to tell him to stop drinking and smoking and get his life together.

I did tell my father I had left Christian Science; we were sitting in the car one evening, and I explained I was not going to raise the children in Christian Science. Partially paralyzed by stokes, my father teared up, squeezed my hand and told me “you got to do what you got to do, goddamn it.” My father wanted to better his life, he saw Christian Science as a way to do that. I see my path away from Christian Science as a way of doing that as well. I think he understood.

Chrystal’s Story – It’s time we teach you how to pray

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

I remember being called in to my parents room, I might have been in third or fourth grade. I was told, “it’s time we teach you how to pray.”

My parents had me get a sheet of loose leaf paper and a pencil. They had me fold the paper in half, vertically, and list all of my faults on the left hand side. I remember the first one: “Lazy.” This was a word they had to explain to me. I only knew “lazy” as something my eye was. I didn’t know that people could be called “lazy.” They told me it meant I just lounged around all day and didn’t anything to help around the house. And I needed to change this about my personality. They told me to write “lazy” on the left side column. And then to write “diligent” on the right hand side. This is, apparently, the opposite of “lazy.”

They had me write at the top of the left hand column: “I am not:” And at the top of the right hand column, “I am:”

Then list my faults down the left hand column. I think there were approximately 11 faults I had down the left hand column. And 11 antonymns of things I should work on (heal the bad to become the good) on the right hand side. All I remember is “lazy.” So, as I read this, I would read:  “I am not lazy, I am diligent.” “I am not mean, I am nice.” “I am not ugly, I am pretty.” “I am not a liar, I am truthful.” etc. I was supposed to pray with this prayer list every day.

My parents sat on their bed, and I knelt down at the base of the bed, on my knees, using their bed as my desk. Yes, I was literally kneeling in front of them as they told me my faults.

I remember diligently “praying” with this prayer list for days, maybe weeks. Probably a few months or years later, when I pulled out my old list that was quite worn from daily use, I would just pull it out and stare at that first word and pretend to pray with this list, as I let my imagination wander. I am certain this is why I don’t remember more of it. I do remember there were now far more things to deny on the left hand side that had been added in over the years with various pencils, pens, markers…. And, still, “lazy” was right there, at the top of the list for me to deny every single day. I wonder, at what point that becomes “healed” and it can be removed from a prayer list?

I was the worst daughter they ever saw

By Sharon, an Ex-Christian Scientist Group contributor.

I get upset and frustrated when I think of what my mother put herself and the rest of us through at the end of her life. She knew she had the cancer for years. She waited and tried to ‘heal’ it until the tumor was as big as her breast, then decided she would have it and the breast removed because it looked “like it might break open and that happened to another lady in the church and it smelled awful.”

So, she had that operation but refused any further treatment, and eventually the cancer metastasized to her spine, causing enormous pain. She was finally so disoriented that I was able to get her to the hospital. Once there, I felt like I was judged to be lacking in any sort of sense. I was told that the cancer had metastasized to her brain, and they looked at me like I was the worst daughter they ever saw that I would let my mother suffer and get all this cancer all over her with no treatment.

Knowing that my mother would have done the same thing to me as a child is no comfort. I have often thought about the fact that I know without a doubt that my mother would have let me die at the altar of Christian Science and I would have had no control over it, just as I had no control over what she did about her own illness.

Five Questions: M’s Answers


When people leave Christian Science there are five questions that pop up again and again. We can only answer these questions for ourselves. By sharing these answers, we hope to shed a little light into the murky depths of Christian Science. Find all the answers to the Five Questions on the FiveQuestions tag.

The following answers are from M, a member of the Ex-Christian Science Facebook community.


How did you get into Christian Science?
My mother, who was always looking for ‘the answer’, went to a Wednesday evening service at TMC (The Mother Church), and never looked back. I was about ten years old, and my younger sister was born into Christian Science.
Why did you stay in it for so long?
When you’re raised in it, it’s just part of life and you don’t generally question it until you’re older. I didn’t start having doubts until my late 30’s/early 40’s! As an adult I began to have doubts, but would always push them away, figuring it was either ‘personal sense, ‘animal magnetism’, or ‘human will’.
What made you decide to leave?

The decision happened in an instant. I was 45 years old, and I was sitting in The Mother Church on a Sunday morning next to my mother, who was very sick, listening to the first reader drone on and on, and then looking at my mother, (who was) shaking all over, and I just knew that I was done. Done watching her suffer, and done being in this cruel mental prison. After the service, I left and never looked back. I went home, threw all my books, class notes, diaries–all of it, in the garbage…in the rain.

Why would anyone join?

The same reason anyone joins any religion or cult; to feel like you have some sense of control over life or have ‘the answers’.

Did you really believe? 
Absolutely! When I wasn’t doubting it! Most of the time I believed it completely and that it was the answer that would change the world. I was part of of something revolutionary that had ‘the answers’. I never told any of my friends that I was a Christian Scientist though; I don’t know if I was afraid I’d be judged or that on some level I was embarrassed or ashamed.

If you would like to contribute your experiences to The Ex-Christian Scientist, you can email us at [email protected]

Five Questions: L’s Answers


When people leave Christian Science there are five questions that pop up again and again. We can only answer these questions for ourselves. By sharing these answers, we hope to shed a little light into the murky depths of Christian Science. Find all the answers to the Five Questions on the FiveQuestions tag.

The following answers are from L, a member of the Ex-Christian Science Facebook community.


How did you get into Christian Science?

I was born into a Christian Scientist family (on my mother’s side). My sibling and cousins and I made the fourth generation. The fourth generation has now all escaped from Christian Science. Hallelujah!

Why did you stay in it for so long?

By the time I was ready to leave home for college, I had doubts. My mother told me that as soon as I finished high school, I could decide if I wanted to continue in Sunday School. I think she thought I would keep going, but the Sunday before I graduated was the last time I ever attended. So, that whole summer before I left for college, I slept late on Sunday mornings with no guilt. But four years later, after I married and moved across the state, I began, for the first time, to have health issues that didn’t go away quickly. I still didn’t want to attend church, but my husband and I sometimes went to Wednesday evening services. I struggled. I was half in and half out. Christian Science treatment wasn’t helping me, but I had no experience whatsoever with medical services, and I was away from home and family. I had no idea what to do. Radical reliance in Christian Science had been the only option I had ever had, but now I was an adult and I realized I could make choices.

What made you decide to leave?

I left for good in my late twenties with my first-ever doctor’s visit. Thankfully, that was in time for my first childbirth, in which a C-section and the NICU and modern medicine saved my baby’s and my life. I can’t stand to think about what would have been had I remained, doggedly, in Christian Science, trying to demonstrate my and my children’s way to perfection. Shudder.

I had struggled and attempted to ‘work out a problem’ in Christian Science for several years with the help of various practitioners. One visit to a family practice doctor who prescribed medication and lifestyle suggestions finally cured the problem once and for all. That was enough for me. During this period, I watched my practitioner mother treat her malignant melanoma through radical reliance on Christian Science…and die. To watch this happen, to know what was coming, to attempt to care for her without causing her to believe that my unbelief was hindering her healing, was pure torture. By the time she died, after lying six days in a coma in her home with just her immediate family caring for her (after a Christian Science nurse disappeared without a word), I hated Christian Science with a white-hot passion. Every remaining family member still in Christian Science had seen enough at that point. My mother, the strongest Christian Scientist in the family, had not been able to ‘prove’ that matter was unreal, or that there was no sensation in matter, or that pain and sickness were illusions. Every supposed healing we had had in our family up until that point was easily explained as natural bodily healing…because the body really is quite as remarkable as it is REAL. And there were many other healings that had never come at all. We all stopped pretending and faced life. We embraced humanity. And my sibling and I were traumatized and would face years of undoing the damage Christian Science had done in our lives.

Why would anyone join?

I don’t know why both of my mother’s grandmothers joined Christian Science. I can imagine the appeal back then though, in the early days of the movement, more than I can understand it now. In the nineteenth century, there was much that could not be understood about the human body and the process of illness, and much that could not be fixed medically. Today, I suppose people are attracted to the promise of goodness and light and freedom from pain and suffering. Christian Science is an illusion though. All is not perfect or good, and practitioners cannot metaphysically obliterate the very real disease processes or other ills of humanity. When mortals are confronted with unpleasant reality and turn to it for relief, Christian Science does not deliver in any way.

Did you really believe? 

I think I really believed in the lessons I was taught in Sunday School and at home when I was very young. But by the time I was in middle school, I could easily see that not all of the testimonies my mother told in church on Wednesday evenings were accurate. It wasn’t hard to see either, that my supposedly ‘healed’ stomach virus lasted the same 24 hours as my best friend’s and caused the same symptoms. It wasn’t hard to see that my non-Christian Scientist friend got relief from her sore throats and headaches by turning to her pediatrician and her medicine cabinet, and I just suffered until my body healed itself. By the time I was in my late teens, I could also see that, despite my usually happy childhood, I suffered way more from health-related anxiety and phobias than my friends; and I do to this day.


If you would like to contribute your experiences to The Ex-Christian Scientist, you can email us at [email protected]

Christian Science really screwed up my connection to ME


By Heidi, an Ex-Christian Scientist Group contributor.

I was raised in Christian Science, but I was not enthusiastic about it when I enrolled at Principia College. Prin made me look at Christian Science differently—not good, not bad, just different—and after I left Prin, I got more into Christian Science before waffling my way back out again. I knew the beginning of the end was near either my freshman or sophomore year. It took me almost another six to eight years to officially work up the guts to move beyond, “well, I’m just not an active Christian Scientist; I live too far from a church to attend services, and there are medications I take which are helpful to me, so Christian Science is just not really working for me.” So, I was in it deep for 22 years, backed out slowly for four, and I have been truly out for three.

My dad died last year, and mom is in the deep end of the crazy. She maintains a rabid devotion to a church that did nothing for her except sap her time and energy while pretending my dad and his health crises didn’t exist. Ultimately, the reason for my departure from Christian Science was a combination of watching my parents flounder after my dad’s health crisis with a pseudo-medical approach to not really getting better, and the discovery, with age, that there are lovely humans out there who know that doctors are also god’s critters. My former in-laws are Baptists, and I couldn’t feel smug about being a Christian Scientist around them because they were so much better people than every Christian Scientist I ever knew: non-judgmental and super supportive. And I’ve met atheists who were just as lovely.

Christian Science really screwed up my connection to ME, and I am still picking up the pieces. With every retelling of my experiences growing up in Christian Science comes a bit more perspective. Sometimes it’s fear, or shame; sometimes anxiety, other times, disbelief. These days, I like evolution and physical reality more than ‘god’s perfect idea’ of reality.