a tale of two sprains

I have recently been laid up with an injury that has given me time to reflect on a previous, similar injury, and compare and contrast how they both were handled.

Many years ago, back in high school, I sprained my ankle, at least, I think I sprained my ankle, it swelled to the size of a grape fruit and turned terrifying shades of blue and purple. It hurt to put pressure on it. Unable to walk on it, I hobbled to the nearest phone and had my mother pick me up from school.

When I got home, my father made me elevate it and rest — this probably the only practical thing that was done, while my mother called the family Christian Science Practitioner. As I somewhat tearfully explained my ankle was swollen and bruised, she brushed all that side, and began to admonish me that I was perfect and spiritual, and there was no ankle, or something along those lines, and I was being tricked by mortal mind/error, and I need to read some section of the lesson. She rather abruptly hung up.

This was, of course, no real help. I spent the weekend taking it somewhat easy — I didn’t really have much of a choice, I couldn’t walk, and by Monday the swelling had subsided enough that my foot looked almost normal, and my parents deemed me fit to return to school.

The CSP, having never laid eyes on me, or my ankle, declared me fully healed, and when I attempted to argue she told me that mortal mind lies, and that was the end of it. I could walk on it, it felt okay, clearly I had been healed. Praise Christian Science.

I used that story as my “demonstration of Christian Science” portion for the Principia College admissions essay.

There was one problem with this story, it was a blatant lie: my ankle is most certainly not healed, and Christian Science only made things worse.

The new injury came on more slowly than the sprained ankle. It built up over several days, a little over a week, before I was rendered almost unable to put weight on my foot. Then I ignored it for a few more days, hoping it would just get better. I finally scheduled an appointment with my doctor.

My doctor was empathetic, she heard me and asked how I might have hurt my foot. She explained sometimes these things happen, the foot is complicated and there are a lot of bones and tendons, and sometimes things fracture or are strained/sprained without there being an obvious causing event (this may or may not be true, but it made me feel better about it).

My doctor felt my foot and ankle, and compared it with the other uninjured one, there was no swelling, or obvious issue. To rule out fractures, she ordered x-rays, which came back normal. We talked through practical treatment options, none of which included reading Science & Health, all of which were grounded in practical steps I could take, and further steps to take if the first set didn’t work.

It is a little frustrating that in 2019 the cure for a sprained foot (yes, that is a thing) is 4-6 weeks of taking it easy, wearing supportive shoes and putting your feet up, with ice and take anti- inflammatories if/as needed, at the same time, it was liberating.

When I share this with a friend she was horrified they couldn’t do more to manage the pain. Perhaps my years in Christian Science have set the bar low for such injuries, but really, what more is there to do?

I was seen, my pain was acknowledged and validated, practical steps for treatment were discussed, I have a time frame in which this should occur. While I have spent a fair bit of time with my feet up, I’ve also been able to do the majority of what I need to get done because I’m wearing appropriately supportive footwear, and am pacing myself so I don’t over-do things.

I’m not going to try and force the healing to happen faster so I can demonstrate how good I am at it. Sprains take time, and 4-6 weeks sounds quite realistic. An insta-healing in 3 days isn’t a healing at all, it is setting yourself up for a lifetime of random ankle pains that don’t show up on x-rays.

It has been a few weeks since I initially wrote this post, and I am pleased to say things are progressing nicely. I’ve been following my Doctor’s recommendations. I’m not completely over the injury (I’m still within the 4-6 weeks of predicted recovery), but there has been a huge improvement.

Pure of Mind, Body & Spirit

This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support of kindism.org.

I’ve recently had the opportunity to “put my feet up and take it easy” (Doctors orders, my how far modern medicine has come, and before anyone speculates, I’m not pregnant) so I’ve been working my way through a massive stack of books (I took all the books in my Amazon cart and put in requests at the local library).

One of the many books on my list was Pure: Inside the Evangelical Movement That Shamed a Generation of Young Women and How I Broke Free by Linda Kay Klein.

I will start with a disclaimer, I was not raised in the Evangelical tradition — if someone can tell me more about it, or wants to clarify, the comments are open, and the book elaborates on this more than I can in a brief blog post. I can only speak to my experiences growing up in the South, with Evangelical and Conservative Christian friends/neighbors, as well as my experiences in Christian Science. The Evangelical movements have youth groups, youth pastors, youth out reach programs, purity rings and Christian Science has… Sunday School until you reach the age of twenty. Some CS have a little “cross and crown” pendent they wear on a necklace, but I never saw those until I got to Principia (and, to my disappointment at the time I never had one).

One of the first things that stood out to me was in Christian Science a woman’s highest calling is to serve God, not to be a “helpmeet” or a mother, marriage is a necessary evil to be tolerated until the apocalypse and Ms. Eddy — thrice married twice-widowed has a very different take on things than the patriarchal-heavy Evangelical movement.

Then there is what Christian Scientist need to avoid, the biggest worry is not sin, but error and mortal mind, and then there is sensuality which is a whole other mess unto itself. As I’ve said before in a previous blog post:

In Christian Science, sensuality is something to be counteracted as well. Sensuality draws your focus on “the unreal and material,” it interferes with your relationship with God, and that in turn leaves you open to more false ideas from mortal mind, error, sickness, sin, disease and death. From a very early age little Christian Scientists are introduced to the idea that there is “no sensation in matter” and every Sunday School closes with the Scientific Statement of Being as found on p. 486 of Science and Health:

There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter. All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all. Spirit is immortal Truth; matter is mortal error. Spirit is the real and eternal; matter is the unreal and temporal. Spirit is God, and man is His image and likeness. Therefore man is not material; he is spiritual.

This material body? It isn’t real. It is part of the Adam dream, and one day we will awake and know God and our true selves. Sensuality must be counteracted by God’s Angel messages passing to man (along with evil), because it distracts from man aspiring to his higher nature.
Sensuality is nice and vague and covers a full spectrum of things. From Merriam WebsterCS’s preferred dictionary

sensual adjective
1 : relating to or consisting in the gratification of the senses or the indulgence of appetite : fleshly
2 : sensory sense 1
3a : devoted to or preoccupied with the senses or appetites
b : voluptuous
c : deficient in moral, spiritual, or intellectual interests : worldly especially : irreligious

Ms. Eddy does not have a chapter on Dating and Relationships, and takes it a step further to dictate what is permissible within the confines of marriage. I’ve sat through talks where Good Christian Scientists have attempted to justify physical intimacy within a marriage, they talk about “doing it” for “the right reasons” the “natural expression of love” and “not with lustful thoughts.” Oh please.

The recurring themes encountered during my dating years were as follows:

  • the “it feels good, but it feels wrong” / “it feels really good, but it feels like too much” / “I love you but I don’t want to do more” discussion, which is often countered the “if you love me than you’ll do such-and-such”
  • “I love them and I want to do more but we’re not married”

This appears to hold true with the experiences in Pure as well where Klein shares diary entries pertaining to a relationship with her high school boyfriend Dean. She ends up breaking up with him because that is what God told her to do (Pure p. 4-5)

Klein then goes on to recount several failed sexual encounters with another boyfriend — this time after she’d left her Evangelical church, and she was now in college. Klein writes on p. 7

The closer I got to losing my virginity, the more likely it was that the word slut would run through my mind on ticker tape. Eventually, I’d find myself in a tearful heap in the corner of my boyfriend’s dorm room bed, tormented by the same fear and anxiety that had driven me to break up with Dean when I was sixteen.

The Evangelicals clearly spell out the steps to sex: eye to body, eye to eye, voice to voice, hand to hand, hand to shoulder, hand to waist, face to face, hand to body, mouth to breast, touching below the waist, and sexual intercourse (p. 235)

I will not divulge how far my former college boyfriend and I got, but to his great annoyance, we never broke the Prin Code of Conduct when it came to what the college deemed “OSL-Abroad”-worthy “sex” — no oral/genital, no anal/genital, no genital/genital — this left a large grey zone of things you could do, but would rather not have your roommate walk in on you while doing (and the individual dorm rooms didn’t have locks).

Why did we never get very far? “Slut” never ran through my mind, but my roommate walking in on us was a huge concern (at least when he visited on campus). At home I was paranoid someone would find out, or I’d get pregnant, or it feels too good to be right, this is going to lead to something else, or the very real issue that he was pushing for more than I was willing to do.

During my time dating him, there was a period of time when I would wake up having a panic attack, feeling like I was being smothered (he was also regularly sending me long-stem roses because he felt guilty for cheating on me, but I didn’t learn about that until later). If things got into the grey zone — hand to body and beyond, I would not remember what happened the next day (this concerned him), or have such severe abdominal cramping he would stop out of concern… or both, I would forget what happened except that I had horrible cramps and we’d stop. This worried him. It probably should have worried me too, but I didn’t really have anyone I felt comfortable sharing that with.

You’re supposed to demonstrate Christian Science is working, not share your struggles with it. You’re supposed to radiate joy, success, fulfillment. As one of Klein’s interviewees put it

I wasn’t allowed to experience anger or sadness because that was just evidence that you’re giving into the Devil and him wanting you to feel that way — not having joy in the Lord, and all that stuff. (Pure p. 45)

As Klein puts it

If you spend enough time in the subculture, and experience a few shaming to help show you the way, you eventually figure it out: Express lots of emits here, perhaps even falsifying emotions if you don’t have them, and out on your “joy” mask the rest of the time — disconnecting from or hiding feelings that don’t fit. (Pure p. 48)

Replace the Devil with Mortal Mind or error and having joy in the Lord with demonstrating Christian Science. Yep. The terminology is different but the results are the same. As my father reminded me, if you can’t behave like a young lady, fake it. I got very good at faking it.

Kline also discusses “stumbling blocks” — things that cause people (usually men, in Evangelical circles) to sin, have lustful thoughts, or fall from grace.

The first “stumbling block” in the purity movement is identical to the first stumbling block for those raised in Christian Science: if you are suffering, it is your fault. When taken to heart, this message can make us miss — or when we do see it, dismiss — our suffering, until one day, it’s too late. (p. 61

This is followed by the second “stumbling block” if purity culture / Christian Science it doesn’t work for you, it is because there is something wrong with you. In the purity culture this is gender role expectations, in Christian Science is it is everything else – with a heavy emphasis on demonstrating healing.

The third “stumbling block” for Evangelical Christian women is the purity myth, as talked about by Jessica Valenti:

The cornerstone of the purity myth is the expectation that girls and women, in particular, will be utterly and absolutely nonsexual until they day they marry a man, at which point they will naturally and easily become his sexual satisfier, ensuring the couple will have children and never divorce: one man, one woman, in marriage, forever. (p.77)

This expectation plays out differently in Christian Science with really toxic results and amazing mental gymnastics. As I mentioned before, with in CS, sex even with the person you are married to is a distraction and really best to be avoided, unless you want to have children, and even then,Ms. Eddy’s take on biology is questionable at best.

What happens when one stumbles in their faith, or in CS terms, is swayed by Mortal Mind?

SHAME! ALL THE SHAME! The little voice telling you that you are a failure, and you have failed Christian Science. Never has Christian Science failed you, you failed it. Also, you’re the only one this has happened to. What does this result in? Well, I started a blog, Linda Kay Klein wrote Pure, and clearly people have been reading our work, and finding it relatable. On p. 186 Klein writes:

Religion has a way of getting inside the most private parts of your life. Though I no longer attended an Evangelical church, I still found myself analyzing my thoughts, obsessing over my mistakes, and seeking out even the tiniest sins in hopes that confessing them would free me from the feeling of impurity that was always there.

I have been leaving Christian Science for nearly a decade now, my relationship with intimacy has changed for the better, but other areas, self care and healthcare, while noticeably improved, remain complicated. I no longer experience anxiety-related freak-outs during intimacy. The context has changed: I’m no longer a sophomore at Principia College, I’m married to a wonderful man, and my bedroom door has a lock. I do struggle with self-care and healthcare, I regularly push myself a little farther than I should, and have on occasion put off having problems looked at. I acknowledge this, and I’m working on it.

I still keep a stash of home pregnancy tests in a drawer in the bathroom, but that is more about concerns my methods of birth control have failed than it is about the phantom baby. One of Klein’s interviewee’s explains:

Surely you’ve heard of the “phantom baby”? How nobody has had sex but they all think they’re pregnant? I’ve never met an evangelical woman who doesn’t irrationally believe she’s pregnant at some point. (p. 195-6)

That happened to me. My very sweet fiancee was in town for a few days, and brought me a home pregnancy test (I was living at home and terrified what would happen if my parents found out), and I wasn’t pregnant. My cycle was approaching 45 days (instead of 32), and I was stressed beyond reason, living at home and working with a menopausal woman, a pre-menopausal woman, a woman who was stacking her birth control pills, and a women who had a hysterectomy. This was in stark contrast to living in a dorm where hall mates regularly seemed to sync up. My period appeared about 2-3 days later much to my relief. This also happened to a never-CS friend of mine, only hers was “he came in the hot tub with me in it!” By that time, I was at a place where I could talk her down, and reassure her she was not pregnant.

Not teaching sex-ed and basic reproductive biology is a problem.

Some of the women in Klein’s book have moved on to more accepting church communities, I have chosen not to. I last set foot in a church the summer after my father’s death. I had gone home to help my mother deal with the house. My mother was filling in as the second reader and I went to be supportive. One of Klein’s interviewees compares church to a dementor.

I am struck by how appropriate the metaphor [Rosemary] draw about the dementors really is. In the Harry Potter books, the dementors are like trauma triggers. They “force their victims to relive the worst memories of their lives, and drown, powerless in their own despair.”

That neatly sums up my experience revising the church, I held it together: the good girl and supportive daughter facade, turmoil raging inside me. I sat in the back off to one side, counting recessed lights, pews, windows, and pretending to follow along in the Quarterly. My father’s decade-long struggle with failing health before he passed, somewhat ostracized because he was not fully relying on Christian Science, the deaths of beloved Sunday School teachers, and close friends. I’m pretty sure I had chocolate after that, I’m having some now.

Christian Science encourages a cherry-picking of quotes, often out of context. Take the good, leave the bad. The Bible is allegorical. Ms. Eddy didn’t really mean that. The blogger at Emerging Gently calls the process “mental gymnastics” and that is quite an apt description.

Although Christian Science is more sedate than Evangelical Christianity, there are no mega-churches, no super-star pastors, no best selling must-read books beyond Science & Health (and that’s more a mandatory text than popular literature https://kindism.org/2012/09/30/authorized-cs-literature/), the lasting impact on women’s lives, the shame, anxiety, and other issues is similar. Acknowledging that there are issues is a good start, but in Christian Science, at least, I’m unsure if there will be anyone left to rectify them within the movement.

Everything is Fine & Other Lies Principians Tell Each Other

I recently typed up a seven page post about how Principia failed to meet and recognize the needs to students, then I had a conversation with a close friend who asked, rather pointedly, how Principia was supposed to know anything was wrong and I’m sharing this instead.

In Christian Science we are to correct our thought, if we perceive something is amiss, we are to correct our thought. If CS are perceived to be behaving in any way that is less than Perfect, it is a Failing on our part and we must work to correct it.

This applies to mental issues as well as physical ones. I’d like to think some of the issues Prin failed at would be obvious in a different school, the physical ones, the reasons people went to Cox Cottage. The reasons people snuck off campus for medical care (yes, that happened).

Mental and emotional issues are a bit harder, most of the people were “working on the situation with Science” which gave them a free pass to ignore it, or stress-read the works of MBE late into the night.

Let’s be honest, most CS are pretty good at putting on a good show. Unless something was truly horribly wrong, they showed up for classes, meals, etc. and even if they didn’t, we were all so busy with our own lives we wouldn’t have noticed unless they were our roommate, and even then, with some extreme exceptions, there were no “red flags” — and even the ones we did see we didn’t know how to act on.

If the problem was really truly bad, they’d be disappeared in the night. Disappearances during the academic term are jarring, the ones that happen between breaks are more subtle. Some people just don’t come back after Spring Break, are they on an Abroad, were they asked to leave, is it Academic Probation, did they run out of funds, did they transfer out, is it some combination of all of these?

Eventually the missing fade into the background while you try and cope with the grueling quarter system (apparently this has since been changed) and stresses of trying to maintain a good GPA so you don’t loose your sources of funding. Really, there isn’t much time for speculation.

You (quite falsely) assume everyone is a good CS and everyone is getting their stuff done, and no one is having any problems. You’re too busy working at masking your own to notice anyone else’s anyway.

Given all that, I’m almost willing to give Principia a pass, but Prin heavily emphasizes community, and morals. Principia is the sort of community where people comment if you’re not in Sunday School or you miss a House Meeting. If people can notice you’re not attending Hymn Sing, they should be able to notice if you are struggling. Or should they?

February – it is February right?

Last month I laid out some ambitious plans to get my life on track in 2019, some of those things are going better than others — I’m remembering to take my multi-vitamin, but “meal planning” (even with an app) has failed. Meals are happening, but that’s more because I have a well stocked pantry (and a list of possible meals on the fridge), not because I’ve planned anything. I’m also slowly coming to terms with the fact I’m likely never going to finish my series of Steiner lectures, because I simply can’t stand the thought of digging into Steiner’s work.

On the still-working side of things: I’m still using my Field Notes and they’ve saved me on more than one occasion so far this year — writing things down has been hugely helpful. I went through my Amazon cart and added all the books on my wish list to my hold list at the local library, in most cases I’m the second or third person on the waiting list… except for one of the books where I’m 324th — that one I may end up buying!

On a CS-related note, I’ve gotten several emails recently reaching out for help and resources. I highly recommend The Ex-Christian Scientist (for secular support) and The Fellowship of Former CS (if you’re on a Christian path).

And with Valentine’s Day around the corner, a selection of posts on Love.

my Big 3 Things to work on in 2019

So it is now 2019 and everyone is resolving to do better at whatever it is they’re trying to do better at, myself included. This post contains affiliate links. Maybe you’ll find some of this useful.

So things I am trying to do better at:

1: My Health & Food

After talking with my doctor last year about my miserable menstrual-cycle-related breast pain and truly awful PMS, she told me my options were 1) hormonal birth control, which may or may not help with the symptoms; or 2) more pain medication as needed, which didn’t really help because the pain often resolved before I got around to taking any.

I was not pleased with either option and after some searching online, I came across Period Repair Manual, by Lara Briden ND, who advocates a removing dairy, wheat, gluten, (and a few other things) from your diet to cut back on inflammation, which in turn helps issues with the reproductive cycle. She also recommended dietary supplements to help provide extra vitamins and minerals not always acquired through food alone.

I am not ready to cut out all dairy, wheat, gluten, and a number of other things, but so far, well into the second cycle, regularly taking a multi-vitamin seems to be working. I’ve been diligently tracking things with Clue (not an affiliate link, just an amazing app) and so far a simple multi-vitamin has made a tremendous difference in my levels of breast pain.

In an ideal world I would be getting all the vitamins and minerals I need from the food I eat, and I’d be eating three healthy responsibly portioned meals a day, with the occasional equally healthy snack, but that isn’t always the case. I fall woefully short when it comes to meal planning, and I’ve been trying to find reasonable solutions to help.

I just learned about Mealime (not an affiliate link) and have decided to try it for two or three meals a week, I’ll let you know how that goes. Between some meal plans to work with and our every-other-weekly veggie box delivery from our CSA (community supported ag) I’m hoping to improve the quality of dinner around here so it isn’t ordering takeout pizza again. I’ll try and remember to update how this is going in a month or two. I’m currently using the free settings.

2. Blogging

I’m hoping to do a bit more blogging here this year. Maybe even once a month. Maybe I’ll even finish my series of Steiner lectures that I started in 2016 2015, maybe not, lets not get ahead of ourselves.

3. Organization around the house & with the children

This is an on-going issue. I tried bullet journals, but they were always too big, bulky, and complicated feeling. I’ve been using Field Notes (I’m partial to the graph paper) to help keep track of things, grocery lists, important dates, to-do lists. They’re great, they’re about the same size as my cell phone and fit easily in a pocket or my purse. Things either get immediately entered onto my google calendar, or they’re written down in my little notebook. When one fills up, I flip through for any important (or still relevant) information to move into the next one, or save that information somewhere more permanent.

In addition to keeping track of All The Things, there is the stuff that goes with it. I’m hoping have regular trips to the a local donation center, frequent posts on Nextdoor for sale/free items, and maybe even a few trips to the local dump. Not quite KonMari tidy, but I need to start somewhere.

These are my Big 3 Things to work on for the year. I will probably also set monthly and weekly goals, as well as to-do lists for the never-ending list of things that need to get done around the house. I hope everyone has a fairly decent 2019. What are your Big 3 Things you’d like to improve in 2019?

the new Missionaries & Santa

The other evening as I was preparing dinner, three young women knocked on our door. They introduced themselves as the “new missionaries” in town and wanted to “share a message” with us. I politely declined, wished them a good evening and closed the door. They looked mildly surprised, but took my rejection well.

Kid2, who was with me when I opened the door, had questions: what message, why did they want to share it, why did I say no thanks.

How does one explain missionaries to a child?

As it is nearing Christmas, I used an analogy that they might relate to. Kid2 does not believe in Santa, and we’ve had numerous conversations about that, so I decided to start from there.

So the first question was why were they going door to door to share a message?

“It would be like if you believed in Santa so much you wanted to tell everyone so you went door to door to share that. You feel everyone should believe in Santa so they can get lots of presents, because if they don’t believe in Santa they won’t get anything.”

Kid2’s brow wrinkled in confusion. Clearly this was not about Santa.

So what message are they sharing?

They’re most likely talking about the story of Jesus. You know, the baby from the Nativity play, and the man who was on the cross in the Mission we visited last summer.

Yes. Looks confused. Why do they want to share that?

Some people believe very strongly, that stories that in the Bible actually happened, and they have based their entire world view off of them. They feel they have to go tell everyone about this, so other people can make people change to their way of thinking.

Why didn’t you want to talk to them?

I have a different world view than they do. I know about Jesus, and I’ve read the Bible, and I don’t agree with their world view, and that’s okay. We can politely disagree with people, and we don’t have to talk to people who randomly knock on our door about religion, it is also time to get started on dinner.


Kid2 took it at that and I’m sure we’ll have more opportunities for these conversations as time goes on, particularly around the holidays, as Kid2 has proudly informed their class that “Santa does not visit our house because we do not have a chimney!” and Kid1 has proclaimed “I don’t believe in Santa, I believe in Mommy!”

Passive Awareness of the Body

A series of unfortunate events at the turn of the new year led me to take up strength training two mornings a week with a personal trainer. It has been a surreal experience, I’m shocked how much I’m enjoying it, and I’m becoming incredibly aware of my body in aways I wasn’t before. I’m aware of more of it at once.

When I was in Christian Science, I was passively aware of my body. It was there, but not hugely important. When I hurt myself or was ill, I downplayed my injuries or illness — they weren’t really part of me, they didn’t need to impact my day-to-day. Anything too extreme warranted a call to a CS practitioner, who would tell me that 2+2=4 and God is Love, and I am God’s Spiritual Idea and therefore I am Perfect, so whatever I thought was wrong, was just that, an erroneous thought that needed to be fixed. The human body is really good at fixing itself, so most of the time I recovered in a reasonable amount of time, but sometimes the passive awareness (and flat-out ignoring the problems) was more problematic.

Passive awareness led to a mildly infected cuticle, it was a minor pain, nothing to worry about, until it spread down the length of the entire finger. It hurt to bend my finger, it hurt to move my hand. The nail was pushed out of place. My mother called the local CS Nurse, I soaked my hand in warm water with epsom salts and put a bandaid over the error. Eventually the puss ruptured out the side of my finger, the nail falls off, and the school nurse is horrified when I showed up one day needing a bigger bandage. A friend whose father was a doctor went with me, she’s freaked out about the infection spreading and the possible loss of the finger. I find the pain and her freaking out mildly annoying. Thanks to religious exemption laws, there wasn’t much (anything?) the school nurse could do. I got a new bandaid, the trip to the nurses office also means I get to meant out out on running the mile in PE. It was a win-win situation. Later I realized just how lucky I was it didn’t get worse.

Passive awareness leads to “walking off” the hard fall-and-slide down an icy hill. Downplaying the fact I can’t really walk properly, but I also can’t get back up the hill because it has iced over, so you may as well walk to class. Really, it hurts a bit, but it isn’t that bad. I’ve had worse, even if I can’t remember when. Get up, walk. Eventually I sort-of forget about it until you see the giant bruise in the shower, but that’s not real, neither is the pain of sitting, with the fabric of my pants pressed up against it. Ms. Eddy had her fall on the ice and found Christian Science, the least I can do is go to class. Totally ignore that MBE was in bed for a few days and claimed to be near death after her incident — she hadn’t found Christian Science yet.

 Anatomy declares man to be structural. Physiology. Man not structural continues this explanation, measuring human strength by bones and sinews, and human life by material law. Man is spiritual, individual, and eternal; material structure is mortal. Science & Health p. 173:17-21

Passive awareness of my body didn’t help things when I started birth control for the fist time. I didn’t have the language to communicate with the Planned Parenthood staff about my concerns and needs. I was terrified of becoming pregnant, and part of me thought stating the issues I had out loud would make them real. I used birth control for a year, faked okay-ness though the side effects, and promptly quit as soon as my prescription expired because I didn’t want to have to try and find a new doctor or go back and talk to the ones I’d worked with before. In my mind, on some level, I knew turning from Christian Science is what caused all these problems, if I’d prayed about it and continued to only use the barrier methods (or better yet, abstain from sex entirely, it is a distraction) it wouldn’t have been a problem. Really.

Passive awareness caught me off guard when my wisdom tooth came in awkwardly and promptly got infected. I didn’t know what was going on, I sort of knew things felt “a bit strange” and then one morning I woke up in extreme pain and realized I had to find a dentist who could do an extraction ASAP.  As if the combination of pain and dental issues wasn’t enough, the codeine they gave me to help with the pain after the procedure made me hallucinate.

Passive awareness of my body really snowballed when I got pregnant. I was suddenly very aware of different sections of my body. The way I couldn’t eat bananas or handle raw meat. The massive uncomfortable expansion of my breasts. The awkward pelvic exams. The aches and pains I didn’t realize were problems so I never spoke up about them until I ended up with an emergency c-section at 35-weeks. God is Love. 2+2=4. Fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. My terror brought this down on me.

Question. What is man?

Answer. Man is not matter; he is not made up of brain, blood, bones, and other material elements. The Scriptures inform us that man is made in the image and likeness of God. Matter isn not that likeness. The likeness of Spirit cannot be sound like Spirit. Man is spiritual and perfect; and because he is spiritual and perfect, he must be so understood in Christian Science.  Science & Health p. 475:5-12

The week in the hospital was somewhat a turning point in bodily awareness. I had to answer questions about my vision, pain levels, and any number of other things that all felt so foreign to me. It was frustrating, I couldn’t answer their questions, and when I tried to explain, I felt I wasn’t being listened to, and I felt I was losing my mind.

It has been a little over nine years since those days in the hospital. I’m still struggling with passive awareness, and appropriate responses. I can be acutely aware of the tension headache, and do nothing to alleviate it. I can be aware of the near-debilitating mensural cramps, but the thought of taking a midol or some ibuprofen is not the first thing that springs to mind.

So where does that leave me with strength training? After my first session I was incredibly aware of every last muscle that I’d used. My trainer has encouraged me to be open about any injuries, strains, and stresses, that might impact my performance and over all wellbeing. He asks how I’m doing and how the last session was. He has me rate the difficulty on a scale of 1-10 mid exercise. He makes sure things are properly aligned so I don’t hurt myself. I’m learning to speak up and ask questions. “Is my body supposed to be reacting this way?” Sometimes the answer is “yes” sometimes the answer is “you need to put your elbows down.”

I’m working on finding the words. The other day I shared that “my hip hurt” and he had questions: Was it muscular? How did it feel? etc. I looked at him blankly. Apparently “it hurts” isn’t really enough of an answer, and to further frustrate, I was unable to figure out how I had hurt it. My range of motion and ability to do the workout were not impacted, but I’ve made a mental note to take better mental notes.

I have selective bodily awareness. I can go into detail on the finer points of breast tenderness related to my mensural cycle (I’ll spare you the details), but straining a muscle? Not so much. How many aches and pains do I talk about? The ones that go away, the ones that linger? The tension headache from trying to deal with two kids and dinner, or the strained lower back muscles from carrying an upset child up the stairs? I suppose this will be an ongoing learning for both of us.

When I share these stories with my fellow ex-Christian Scientists, they nod knowingly. They also cringe because they have similar stories to share. Sometimes they share their stories too. It helps to know we weren’t the only ones. When we share these stories with outsiders, they look horrified. It is easier not to share the stories with outsiders, and sometimes we really should.