I Am a Recovering Christian Scientist Too...

I did a search this morning to find other Christian Science survivors and was so excited to find this website come up!  Then I felt a familiar disappointment to find the group empty.  That is how Christian Scientists are - don't talk about it.  It was a message imposed on us since childhood - don't talk about it as no one will understand and they will ridicule you.

I am not here to talk smack on CS, even though I could go on for a while.  What I am looking for is someone with a similar experience as myself:

I was raised in a family of six children with parents who were together and happily married until the preventable death of my father and then the preventable death of my mother three years later when I was in my early 30's.  I am the youngest girl in the family and have 2.5 siblings who still practice the Christian Science religion and are proudly sending their children off to Principia College.

I myself stopped "believing" in the religion back when I was very young and then faked it so I could remain a part of the family until I was in my early 20's.  It is now mostly an undisclosed subject that I occasionally get a "loving" message about from my siblings once in a while.  The last one was when I started to hemorrhage uncontrollably at my sister's house and had to drive myself to the ER for an emergency hysterectomy.  Before I left (crying and scared) she told me, "Don't worry.  It is only a body."  - not just once but several times.  Comforting???  Only those raised in the religion can truly get this.  Others can only criticize without an understanding how it processes through a former Christian Scientist's mind.

Anyhow, I have tried to explain the experience to therapists and friend's alike without much real dialoge other than disbelief.  I am not a Christian Scientist, but I was raised a Christian Scientist.  I do not believe, but I carry shame at not believing.  I am an intelligent woman who can still suffer effects of what was pounded into my brain in my formative years.  I find it hard to interact with some of the family members I still love dearly.  Is there any Ex-Christian Scientists out there that can understand what this is like?  I would love to hear from you!

gilmorechick gilmorechick
56-60, F
12 Responses Mar 2, 2009

Oh, believe me, there are plenty of us out there and it messes you up. There is no compassion for others in Christian Science. There is no admission of guilt for things they do or say. They are perfect, and if only everyone could find and use this religion the world would be a better place. Its a self-involved religion only wanting to work on the individual and looking down on every other religion. It is unaccepting, unloving, unfeeling and ridiculous.

This is such an old message, I realize, that it may be worthless for me to post back. I am in a lot of pain trying to extricate this blueprint from my mind. And no one outside understands--not my nonCS friends, my therapist (very supportive and helpful, but not really knowing how it gets into you--down deep). And it seems to come in waves. Like I'll be doing a little better (I have serious mental illness, no surprise there) with my meds and the therapist supporting me, but then something will come back and whammo. I'm back doubting myself, swamped with guilt, terrified that something bad's going to happen because I'm leaving THE TRUTH. It's so hard when you feel like you can't see straight and don't know what's real and what isn't. Hang in there....

I know exactly what you mean about the support of a therapist being helpful, but they just do not get it. I was indoctrinated into CS at birth, and always "knew" that to be accepted in my family, that you had to have a strong belief in all the things I was taught and that made no sense. I still have my same brain in my skull that was there when I was three and now fifty-three. It was driven home when I was very young. Now I know it does not make any sense, but there is a more primitive part of my brain that does not shake the idea of how horrible my life should be now that I have not protected myself from "bad thoughts". I have seen a few therapists over the years, and they want to spend time and energy just taking in what the religion preaches, rather than even fathoming the fall out of truly believing the BS of CS. There is a group that I have wanted to attend one of their workshops that I think might get me into a room of people that actually "get it", and that is the ICSA (International Cultic Studies Association). I have read some things on their website and have recently purchased a book they recommended. Hoping it will help me make sense of some of my feelings that don't make much sense to me.

My mother and Grandparents were Christian Scientist, my father did not agree. I always had a heart for God so I would go to church with my Grandparents. Most of the time I found it dry and was easily bored or could not understand. When I would get sick my mom would tell me to "know the truth" and play hyms on the casette player. I would cry and try my best but never could "know the truth" to make me feel better. I was upset when I was told God was mind and he had 7 synonyms, Angels where Gods thoughts to man and the devil was error of a false mortal illusion. Everything was an illusion and I needed to "know the truth" know that I couldn't sin, get sick or die-which was so frustrating. I spent most of my child hood trying to understand how this was "real" and the world around me was an illusion. I just never accepted it as truth. I got so tired of hearing about healing all the time, I wanted to learn about Jesus. I wanted to know about God. I had gone to other churches and couldn't understand why ours wasn't like the others. Why did it have to be so strange and different?
As I got older I grew apart from the church and eventually my mother turned away too. The words we learned like the Scientific Statement of being, still are etched into my head and I feel this strange hypnotic pull as if my mind is under the Christian Science Churches control. I am happy my mother and I can talk and heal together. Sadly my Grandfather drove himself to his own demise and passed on afew years ago. If only he had gone to the doctor and sought treatment he could very well still be here today.

I get such a chill down my spine when I read something that has the Scientific Statement of Being in it too. Spooky that it can just send a jolt through me. You hit it right on the head - hypnotic pull. It is a Cult in the sheep's clothing of an intelligent and respectful belief system.

Hi, Please don't rant at me. I am a lone parent. I have an 11 yr old daughter. I was a dedicated Christian scientist for over 30 years and fell away gradually. I never thought I would lose my faith. My daughter was very spiritually minded but I am a lone parent my daughter was born out of wedlock in fact out of a relationship as the father had left me and did not get that the church would not condemn me. I did attend church a lot but as someplace to serve and the help I received was spiritual. Not the human help I did get from others I met in Catholic church, methodist churcht, ,small local evangelical church and of no church at all. I attend a local christian church now. Christian science I haven't a problem with. I am immensly grateful for the understanding and the good it brought into my life. The problem is with the church. But my main reason for writing is to say I have been afraid for my daughter that I would not be able to bring her up in Christian Science. I would not have withheld critical medical treatment. I came to Christian Science in adult life myself with a lot of understanding of meditation other communities natural health care etc. but hoe to help her to be a christian. I didn't accomplish that .At least I cannot say what she will decide in later life but I have shouted at her and only gradually from the age of 6 or 7 accepted I would not be able to do it on my own. I couldn't keep up with her in my own demonstration I was so worn out and without human support therefore I couldn't know what was the perfect thing for her at the stage she was .. and I thought I ought to be able to do this and I was doing the right thing. Her father who is not religious kept coming through a relationship with another woman who he subsequently left after they had a child, now 6 and on to the when my daughter was frefusing school and he awas spending more titme here and talking about getting back together. I couldn't take that plunge and now he has started another relationship1 But the point is or one of the points is the humanity he showed is greater than I have seen in many CSts . My daughter is confused I can see it. I understand what you who have been brought up in CS are telling me about feeling isolated and wierd. My daughter has these feelings and yet she was a radiantly intelligent gifted little girl. I know some of what she is experiencing is common to 11yr olds but I want to know what you can say about how I can save her. I feel crippled with guilt sometimes. I have tried but I have been discouraged sometimes to the point where I have failed her. It is desperately difficult to bring a child up with no family snd to bring her up as a christian is so hard, to be different from practically everybody. Also lone parents tend to be poor. What happened to the early christians having 'all of their goods in common?' Not today in our CS churches if you can't bring yourself and your children to church in decent clothing look out it is a rare christian that will be your friend a few will pray for you. And that is Ok because we understand that only a few faithful exist even in the church but it really is not enough. And where are the Sunday school teachers and the other children to be friends with my daughter so she has a place where she doesn't feel wired and outside? It isn't enough it really isn't enough..

I am not a Christian Scientist or former one but my Grandmother and Great Aunt are. My Grandma currently has a growth on her leg she refuses to go to the doctor for. I have been told by family she smells like rotting skin. She keeps asking why her practioner and whatever else she is doing doesn't work :( I am beside myself. I don't really know what I am looking for here but honestly am sad and very upset by the whole thing. I can't imagine the pain of growing up in a household like this. This will scar me so I can't imagine the scars you all have.

I left CS 3 years ago and am only just beginning to feel normal.<br />
My sister and I were raised by a single mother who "found" CS when I was 10 yrs old and my sister was just born.<br />
I will be 49 next month and finally finding out what freedom means.My sister thankfully left CS years ago but my mother will always be a radical believer.My sister and I are both estranged from her and it breaks my heart every day.<br />
the rest of my family thankfully are non CS and have been an amazing support during my transition.<br />
Therapy has helped,books written by x-CS ists have been a lifeline.<br />
Learning to go to doctors and take care of my self has been a huge relief.<br />
For years I thought I had a heart condition and prayed and prayed for healing with no change---big surprise!<br />
When I left CS,the first thing I did was see a cardiologist,scared to death that I would die.<br />
I had countless tests that concluded my heart was just fine and it was simply stress.<br />
It has taken a long time to come to terms with the fact that I am healthy after fearing for so long that something was wrong.<br />
It's ironic that a cult that claims we are perfect and have nothing to fear has the complete opposite effect.<br />
I feel great sadness for my mother who is very ill and has lost her daughters and I have rage for CS that I hope in time will pass.<br />
I'm glad to have found a site that is non-religious because I have zero interest.<br />
I love taking life at face value and treasuring what is real!!<br />
thanks all.<br />
If anyone knows of a support group in the NYC area,please let me know.<br />
I'd love some face-to-face time.<br />
M.M.

Wow, this is a very compelling story. I thought I had it bad with asthma and related problems but I was lucky enough to get through my childhood years physically whole. You must have felt an immense amount of isolation and even anger about family telling you "it's just a body". I had tourettes-related tic symptoms as a kid and was constantly told by my dad "you don't need to do that. God sees you as his perfect..." blah, blah, blah...even now it's hard to repeat. I have read a lot about cult recovery lately and have come to realize there are lasting affects from these kinds of affiliations...even long after one has left the group. I'd love to hear from anyone with similar experiences. Phil

I wasn't raised in Christian Science but came in in my 30's. I identified with one on the above writers isolation. I am still numb. It feels like I lost everything I was ever interested in. Anyone feel that way? After more than 25 years of service to Christian Science I ended up in the hospital. I belong to another religion now. I would like to know about experience in recovery, what works?

I shared your disappointment too. How can there only be four of us out there? I know why. Because I had the same heart palpitations writing this comment as I'm sure all the 'others' out there are feeling. We've been trained to never go against "our beloved leader, Mary Baker Eddy." How amazing that phrase is ingrained so deeply.<br />
Do you have an e-mail address?

I am a former Christian Scientist. I left finally after losing two children. I was raised this way and was terrified if I even thought of going to a doctor. I left many years ago and never regretted it once. I went to another denominational church and began my search for God. Not until I was 45 years old did I finally find Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. If you are interest in further communicating, here is my email address: essullivan@verizon.net. I am in the process of doing a Blog but have not finished yet. Hope to hear from you.

I can relate to you. I too was raised a Christian Scientist and happily went off to Principia College. I am 32 years old and no longer a CSer or religious at all. And it took me a long time before I was happy about that, I used to be afraid that I was being evil for leaving CS. Until one day I realized that I am no happier or miserable for my choice. When I was in CS I had very bad days and very good ones and I still do so nothing changed. It was in college that I began to question CS, although, I had always had doubts, esp. about the thought of raising my own kids one day in the religion. I couldn't imagine withholding medical care for my own kids. Anyay, I was raised in a large family (apparantly my mom didn't believe in birth control, although it is clear most CSers do since not many of them have a ton of kids.) We were on welfare and so this actually made it worse in some ways. Not relying on medicine but not being able to afford to go to the doctor anyway. My mom was very strict about CS and I was a sincere student of it too, I think I offically walked away at 27 or 28. I remember suffering many nights with colds and whatnot. My dad suffered from sever arthritis and eventually died from lack of medical care at an age that was too young in my book. He was 68 and hadn't been to a doctor in probably 40 years. I was taught to basically ignore any symptoms of illness or injury and so that is what I did and to this day I still have a hard time seeking proper medical care for myself. In college I had my first relationship and started experimenting sexually, no intercourse because we were both CSers and knew that was wrong. But, I felt guilty nonetheless. Also, I coulnd't understand why I had to suffer for my sins when my boyfriend didn't he had no problem with sexual contact as long as it wasn't intercourse. This is something that stayed with me for a long time. I thought if intercourse is wrong before marriage than a ******* should be too. So I couldn't figure it out. It wasn't until I was 23 that I had sex with my new boyfriend and figured out there is nothing wrong with sex before marriage and I think it is a good idea in fact. So that was one issue that kept coming up in my life. Also, a church friend died of breast cancer because she didn't seek medical treatment. She had a harvard law degree and was quite intelligent and a loving person and it seemed like a waste to choose to dye. But the biggest reason is probably my radical childhood of feeling isolated and weird growing up. Having to sit outside in the hall while the other students took health class and then the teacher forgetting about me either deliberatle or accidentally and being uncomfortable having to ask the teacher if I could come back in class. Also, we lived over an hour from the CS church so my we would have Sunday School at home and my mom was the sureme ruler in the house and would force it down our throats. We would read a story in the bible or the lesson or a journal and we would each say what we got out of it and at the end my mom would tell what the story really meant. So I was raised to never value my opinion and to this day still struggle with that. After college as all of this started coming together I would meet friends who were intelligent and confident and one day I realized they aren't necessarily smarter than me it was just in their family their opinion was valued and they were taught to think critically and analyze and in my CS household growing up that was not allowed. I also realize this part of my upbringing probably has more to do with my mom and her will and not religion but since CS is 100% of your life, I can't really separate it. We would even have homework for the next class and I remember one time one of my brother's was cheating when he was reciting something he had it written down when he was supposed to memorize it and my mom slapped him and yelled at him for who knows how long. Afterall she was perfect and she loved to lecture and moralize things her kids did. I do want to say that I believed in CS and wanted to be perfect and it took me years to realize there is nothing wrong with me if I don't want to read the lesson or whatever. So now I am married with 2 stepkids and thankfully my husband is not religious nor are his children. I can see how a marriage might not survive if one person is a CSer and the other is not. I am leaving out a lot but that is just a starter. Also, I plan to take classes to become a nurse, which is a profession that was out of limits for me while in CS. I used to think about what I wanted to be or do as a profession and I would think briefly about being a nurse, but knew I couldn't and now that I am no longer religious I can do what I want. I too have wanted to talk to and read about other people's experiences, but all I could find on the web are those crazy christians who are no longer CSers but appear to be that weird right wing christianity which is not something I am interested in at all and do not relate to those people.

well I wasn't a christian SCIENTIST but I do feel for you because I had stuff drilled into my head in my formative years that still scares the s h i t right out of me. they used to show this video to the sunday school kids that was a close up of the devil's mouth and his voice was really scary and he had yellow pointed teeth and he said stuff like that the devil can "get" you anywhere even in church.... I've had therapists too that just don't get it. it's crazy. but when a thought comes up like that, I tell my self, "hey, that's over now, you don't do that anymore, it's over, calm down." until I calm down.