If I would only know the Truth about my sight, I would not need glasses

By Tessa, an Ex-Christian Scientist Group Contributor. Tessa is a pseudonym, to ensure anonymity.

 

I guess the first and possibly the biggest way that Christian Science negatively affected my life was that I was born nearsighted, and because we never saw a doctor, no one acknowledged this until I was about ten. A teacher saw me squinting and asked me if I needed glasses. I said no, that it was the light coming from the window. She moved me around the classroom, and I blamed the board, the colour of the chalk, everything. Finally, she told me to go to the nurse and I told her I wasn’t allowed.

The teacher must have called my parents, because my mother immediately got our practitioner on the phone. This began about three years of me being told that if I would only know the Truth about my sight, I would not need glasses. There were many phone calls with the practitioner, even lengthy typed letters that I would skim and hide in the garbage when my mother wasn’t around. I remember distinctly how angry I felt reading the letters or listening to her soft voice droning on the phone. I did not want to work at a healing, I just wanted to have glasses so I could see. I knew in my very soul that prayer did not work for me and desperately wished I could get this point across to my relentlessly CS parents.

The other day, I came across a journal entry from when I was fourteen years old. In it, I wrote that after much begging my parents were going to let me get glasses. It had been a decade of blurred vision and headaches before they agreed. I had spent my life to that point afraid to look up, embarrassed to not recognize someone calling my name. I fell behind in certain subjects where the writing on the board was key to successful grades (math and science, for instance). Worse, there were things I was excellent at that I had to give up because of it. I was told by the music teacher that I had an excellent ear and played violin very well. She made me first violin in the orchestra. The problem was that I couldn’t see the music, and it wasn’t long before I fell behind and dropped out. I was a very good actress, but I couldn’t see the Director or follow cues or any of the things one would need to function properly on stage. To everyone’s dismay, I dropped out of acting as well.

I’d developed a complex in which I would start things, but not finish them because I was so sure of failure. I understand that adversity can push a person to greater heights. I wish I could say that that was the case with me, but it was not. My huge lack of coping skills led to very low self-esteem. I felt invisible and lived constantly in a fantasy world of my own instead of reaching out to the world around me. Long after I had left Christian Science behind, I began to realize that I never reached for the stars growing up because I could not see, so I was too afraid. I am still working on changing that.

I imagine what my mother would have done and then do exactly the opposite

By an anonymous Ex-Christian Scientist Group Contributor.

 

I could fill a book with all the horrible experiences a Christian Science childhood provided. The alienation from my peers, the anxiety of never knowing when I’d prayed enough to stop the other shoe from dropping…

I remember laying awake with an ear infection. They say you can’t remember pain, but I remember it very well, and it was excruciating. My non-Christian Scientist grandmother usually kept completely quiet about my mother’s parenting choices, but I remember even her complaining that I should have some pain killers. The few times it happened, it mercifully went away on its own after a day or two, which of course was a great ‘healing’. I was genuinely absolutely terrified of getting it again.

I was saved from the worst deprivation of medical care because the rules regarding parental jurisdiction over their kids’ medical treatment are a bit different in the UK than in the US. Doctors can override parents’ wishes to withhold treatment, and if social services believe the lack of medical treatment amounts to abuse the child can be taken into care, which terrified my mother. Still, I didn’t get to see much preventative care and I barely knew what an aspirin was until I was fourteen.

One of my biggest challenges is learning to forgive my mother for my effed-up Christian Science childhood. I’m afraid so far I have made limited progress. It has provided me an excellent template when bringing up my own little boy, though. In any given situation, I can just imagine what she would have done and then do exactly the opposite.