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.

It was our fault that my father died because we let him out of our ‘experience.’

By Sharon, an Ex-Christian Scientist Group contributor.

Christian Scientists have a lack of humanity, sympathy, empathy—whatever you want to call it—in the face of death. It’s downright weird. My mother’s explanation to me about my Grandpa’s death when I was just a little girl was, “Oh, he could be down the street, or he could be upstairs.” I could never figure it out, whether he had become invisible to me or what.

I had a grandmother who was of a sort of Mennonite religion. She had lost a little boy when he was six. She would tell me how he died, and how he went to heaven, and how she wasn’t worried because she knew she would join him some day, and she would rejoice when she did. I very much preferred Grandma’s story because I couldn’t figure out why my Grandpa would just be ‘down the street’ and wouldn’t come see me.

Later on my aunt died and I went to her funeral. My mother actually went with me, which was unusual. They had a sermon which included statements about how we should be glad because she would be seeing her husband and other loved ones. My mother left the funeral and said, “that is the stupidest thing I have ever heard. She will NEVER see her husband again because she let him die.”

My mother also once told me that it was our fault that my father died because we let him out of our ‘experience.’ My passive father had waited for my mother’s permission to seek treatment for his throat cancer, but by then it was too late. She said that my father had just gone on and he didn’t know he had died and he still had all of us, but we had let him go.

When my mother’s mother died, I was eight years old. I was never told that she died. I was told that a package was to be delivered and I was just to sign for it and put it on the kitchen table. It was my grandmother’s ashes. My mother acted as if nothing had happened.

My mother was a class-taught Christian Scientist by a teacher who was taught by a student of Mary Baker Eddy’s. My mother spent countless hours with that teacher between her Association meetings. She wrote many, many letters to the teacher, received many back. She non-stop studied, talked, researched all Mrs. Eddy’s writings. Certainly during all these visits and during her class or Association meetings, the subject of death—or non-death, I should say—came up. She was taught this malarkey somewhere.

My husband thinks I am nuts…

By Sharon, an Ex-Christian Scientist Group contributor.

I can remember the most awful uncomfortable periods of silence at the Wednesday evening testimony meetings, with the first reader standing up there with THE SMILE and no one saying anything. I was just a kid, and I would think “would someone get up already!”

Once, I picked a scab in church and let the blood run down my leg. You should have seen my mother get me out of there. I let it run down my leg and then I sort of poked her and pointed at it. She was positively apoplectic. She hissed, “Get yourself out in the car right now and don’t talk to anyone!!” I can just see her with her teeth gritted and the Kleenex out wiping my leg off—I must have been somewhere around ten years old.

Now that I look back at it, it is pretty hysterical. If I would have known I could have gotten out of that horrible church service so easy I probably would have picked a scab long before that.

My husband thinks I am nuts. I was trying to explain to him why this is funny. Try that with someone who knows nothing about Christian Science. I said, “Well, see, you are not supposed to acknowledge that you have any blood,” and he just sat there looking at me with this blank look.

Straighten out your thinking!

By Sharon, an Ex-Christian Scientist Group contributor.

I had severe untreated burns on the top of my foot when I was nine. My cousin spilled a pan of boiling hot jelly right on my foot. I got no help at all with it—no antibacterial cream, bandaging, nothing. I was told to just ignore it and ‘know that you cannot be burned.’

I was sent to school with socks on. The blisters broke and drained all over, and the teacher tried to dress it and put something on it. I, of course, refused to allow anything to be put on it. Because it was never treated in any way, it got horribly infected and was all full of pus and rot, and was extremely painful to the point that I couldn’t put any weight on it.

The incident I remember most clearly from that time is my mother going shopping and bringing me along, and I was hopping on one foot behind her and she was oblivious to my pain. The only attention my mother gave me with that or any illness was to tell me to ‘straighten out my thinking,’ or at best she would call the practitioner.

I am extremely lucky I didn’t get blood poisoning because I was only nine and I didn’t even know to try and keep it clean. When I had my own children, I just could not figure out how a mother could treat her child that way.

Guilt, because we are not good enough to get that healing.

This is Part 3 of a series of posts by Sharon, an Ex-Christian Scientist Group contributor.
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I grew up in a home filled with pictures—not of Jesus Christ—but of Mary Baker Eddy. Pictures of her on our walls: pictures of where she lived, her living room, her study, her rocking chair, and of her standing on her balcony at this house and that house.

I have a copy of the first edition of Science & Health, which is almost unreadable it is written so badly. Until Mary Baker Eddy had it rewritten, edited, and re-edited by someone else, it was obviously written by a person with some kind of thought disorder. And yet, this person was deified in my house. How much more cult-like could it be?

When I read about how Mrs. Eddy’s writings elevate her above Jesus and the Bible, I feel a split in my brain. Most of my brain finds it unbelievably delusional, and yet part of my brain accepts it as natural after hearing it throughout my first thirty-three years of life. I do think Christian Science has a brainwashing effect. It is very hard to get this junk out of your head.

I have read all the biographies of Mary Baker Eddy with histories of the Christian Science church, authorized and unauthorized, and I know from personal experience that it does not work and that it really is not Christian nor is it a science. Yet after a time, the old programming reasserts itself and I find myself thinking, “Oh well, Christian Science isn’t for me, but it’s fine for some people.” Then when I start reading again like I am now, I’m blown away by how cultish it is, and how damaging. Continue reading “Guilt, because we are not good enough to get that healing.”

I couldn’t bring myself to put my kids through the same crap I went through

This is Part 2 of a series of posts by Sharon, an Ex-Christian Scientist Group contributor.
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People in our church with problems were condemned behind their backs as someone who ‘needed to straighten out their thinking.’ Ill members who disappeared out of their regular pews were ignored and never talked about again. One couple who let their daughter die of a ruptured appendix came to church the next Sunday as if nothing had happened and no one said a word about her.  It was as if she never existed.

My mother was never very sympathetic towards anyone’s illness or plain bad luck. She preached her great love, but her constant statement was ‘there certainly is something wrong with their thinking!’ Then she got old and had to use a walker, and I remember she wouldn’t go to church because of the walker.

I told her that there actually are churches where people would bring you a casserole when you had trouble like that, but of course, not the Christian Science church. To even look at someone who needed a walker or was infirm in some way was paying attention to Error; you were just to turn away and deny you saw anything. Continue reading “I couldn’t bring myself to put my kids through the same crap I went through”

Someone introduced Mother to a CSP

This is Part 1 of a series of posts by Sharon, an Ex-Christian Scientist Group contributor.
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I envy those folks who say they grew up in a Christian Science household, but their parents were warm and nurturing. I was not that fortunate.

I was raised in the Christian Science church by a mother who converted to Christian Science shortly after my birth. I grew up in the middle of the polio epidemic and I remember my classmates lining up for the first inoculations of the salk vaccine while I waited in the classroom. I was legally exempted from any medical testing, any health classes and any discussions surrounding health or the human body. I was required to leave the classroom if such a discussion started. I felt like a freak.

I never was allowed to discuss any problem or any illness with my family. The reply to me was just to ‘know the truth’ and ‘straighten up your thinking’ and I would get over it. Christian Science talks about being loving, but spending my childhood experiencing terrible sore throats, fevers, and tonsils so swollen I couldn’t swallow, while all the time being told I wasn’t sick and to get up and go to school was not loving. Being forced to go to school sick—and if I threw up and my mother was called, she would be angry when she picked me up—was not loving.

Whenever I read about a child dying under the care of a Christian Science practitioner I know that I would have been there too, except for pure dumb luck, because my mother definitely would have let me die. I spent the early part of my adulthood mentally berating myself because I was unable to have all these so-called healings and thinking that it was because I just wasn’t a good enough Christian Scientist. Continue reading “Someone introduced Mother to a CSP”