normalization

Mommy, what is that line on your chin?

A scar.

How did you get it?

I fell off a scooter.

Then what happened?

I got up, walked about fifty yards back to the house and Grandma sat me on the kitchen counter and cleaned me up a bit. I had a huge band aid on my chin for what felt like weeks.

At this point, my husband spoke up: Your mom didn’t take you to a clinic? You probably needed stitches.

No, why would she do that?

My husband let out a heavy sign and encouraged Kid2 to give me a hug.

The incident with the scooter was one of many. I was an active child and had my share of scrapes, bumps, and bruises. I ripped through may share of pants falling off my bike, I scrapped my share of elbows doing the same. I never broke any bones, but I did have some falls that, in retrospect, may have been better off being at least looked at by medical professionals.

Growing up, that was my normal. We didn’t go to doctors, we didn’t take medicine. With the exception of a persistent elementary school nurse, I was exempted from vision, hearing and scoliosis screenings at school. I was exempted from parts of health and biology classes.

In my experience, going to a doctor or taking medication was seen as decidedly not normal. This was reinforced by my experiences at Principia. Debilitating cramps? Pray! Horrible fall on the ice on your way to class? Pray! Stressed beyond all reason by homework and time management issues? Pray!

Even once I’d left Prin and moved out, I held on to those ideas of normal. I had an anxiety attack getting a “routine” exam at Planned Parenthood — my fear of unplanned pregnancy combined with my fear of all things medical was a lot to take.

It has been over a decade and I’m still unpacking what my new normal is. People can normalize and rationalize any number of things. Tara Westover’s memoir Educated is an excellent example of this. Often it is a coping mechanism, because in the thick of things, admitting to yourself how wrong things are can be a bit too much to handle.

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3 thoughts on “normalization

  1. Anonymous says:

    Probably it was the more open-minded Christian Science community I was in. Of course, there were some hardcore conservative Christian Scientists. Not many. For example, this business about getting exempt from vision and hearing tests. I never heard of it. Also, to get out of attending biology classes. Never heard of it. That is anti-science which I abhor.

    I do remember a beautiful blonde peer telling me this story: On the first day of biology class. The teacher said, “If there are any Christian Scientists in the room, leave now.” So she stood up and left the class. I was stunned. I wish I knew which teacher that was and asked him what was the problem.

  2. J. says:

    I too had that C.S. Childhood. It is a miracle I survived and had enough common sense to seek medical care as an adult. I will be 80 yrs old in a few weeks and still have nightmares about childhood.

  3. Ashley says:

    I am currently reading “Educated”…..just have a few chapters to go. Before I read these blogs or knew that any other former Christian Scientists felt a familiarity when reading that book, I have been saying to myself “This really reminds me of being raised in CS!” The abuse that came from adherence to a severe dogma took a different form, but in both religions it surely does result in abuse. It’s the way in which she rationalizes whatever crazy thing happened in her home…..the way in which when that’s all you know, it’s “normal” to you. Things that people outside of your small circle of belief, would never understand. I’m glad that we and Tara Westover all survived. “Educated” is an excellent book.

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