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.

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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?

everything is always good

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Every one of them says “how are you?” And you always have to say “good,” even if you’re not good.

 

If you say things aren’t good, they’ll wonder — aloud — why you’re placing “limits” on yourself or the situation. All things are possible through God and enough prayer.

This does not stop when you grow up.

This does not stop when you leave Christian Science.

This does not stop when they know you’ve left Christian Science — this is just proof you need Christian Science more than ever before! Because logical fallacies

So you lie and say it is “good” even when it’s not, and it becomes a habit. Everything is good.

Everything is always good*.

 

 

 

*Except when it isn’t, and it all blows up in your face. Then it is your fault for not trusting God enough and not reading the Lesson, and failing to pray and have the proper understanding.

Five Questions – Principia Edition – Kat’s Answers


This post is being done in collaboration with my fellow ex-Christian Scientist blogger at Emerging Gently. We have also posed these same questions to other ex-Christian Scientists. Their answers appear in a series of posts on The Ex-Christian Scientist*.


1) Why did you attend Principia?

I had to get away from the toxic culture perpetuated by my high school, there were over 4000 students, and I wanted/needed a change. I had been brutally bullied through middle, felt largely overlooked (but not in a good way) in high school, and wanted a fresh start. No one else from my high school had ever gone to Principia so it seemed unlikely there would be anyone I knew, no preconceived notions about who I was, etc.

Principia was the only college I applied to, and I was fortunate to get really good funding from a variety of sources (not just loans from the college), in exchange for maintaining a 2.5-3.0 (or higher) GPA, and a yearly thank-you note.

2) Did your experiences at Principia impact/influence your views of CS?

Yes! The spectrum of what qualifies as “practicing” “Christian Science” varies wildly. The way Christian Science is put to work at Principia makes me particularly uncomfortable (see my negative experience below).

3) If you had a do-over would you attend Principia again? Why/why not? 

This is a hard one, I met my future husband at Prin — I was not looking for one, in fact I was pretty convinced I was never going to marry a “good little CS boy.” I’m happily married, and I’m unlikely to have met him another way. Would I go advise my 18-year-old self not to apply? No. I like where my life ended up, even if the path to get here was a bit trying at times.

4) Would you recommend Principia to a young CS?

No. Why not? See “related reading” at the bottom

5) Please share one positive experience and one negative experience about your time at the school/college

Positive – I made some truly wonderful friends, I enjoyed the (false) sense of security knowing I was in (what I thought was) a like-minded community, I had travel experiences I would not have had otherwise, and I learned a lot about myself (both good and bad).

Negative – this has been shared as part of a longer post before, but I will excerpt the key portion here:
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Five Questions

In the last month or two I’ve started being more open with some of post-Christian Science friends about my Christian Science upbringing. Often, the people I’ve shared with have been people who never knew me while I was still “in Science” — or people who were not quite aware of my background and upbringing. Everyone has been supportive, but they’ve also been baffled as to why anyone would believe in Christian Science in the first place.

This post is being done in collaboration with my fellow ex-Christian Scientist blogger at Emerging Gently. We have also posed these same questions to other ex-Christian Scientists. Their answers appear in a series of posts on The Ex-Christian Scientist*.


There have been five questions that have popped up again and again
  1. How did you get into Christian Science?
  2. Why did you stay in for so long?
  3. What made you decide to leave?
  4. Why would anyone join?
  5. Did you really believe?

I can only answer these questions for myself, but I welcome others to chime in on their experiences in the comments, or as a contributing post over at The Ex-Christian Scientist*.


How did you get into Christian Science?

Like many Christian Scientists (and members of most religions) I was born into it. My father discovered and converted to Christian Science in the mid-1960s (he was in his mid-to-late 30s), and convinced my mother (who was in her mid-to-late 20s) to convert (in the late 1970s early 1980s) as well. They were strongly in the faith when I arrived on the scene in the early 1980s.

My mother has argued I was “not raised quote in Science” and to some extent I agree, I was allowed to take biology classes in school, and got to sit through some very basic “our changing bodies” videos in elementary school. That did not prevent me from remaining relatively ignorant of human physiology and biology (the library and internet were helpful there), a very warped perspective of pain and illness, and a lasting discomfort surrounding all things medical.

Why did you stay in for so long?

When you are raised with these ideas from birth and are repeatedly told them by people that you love, trust and respect it is hard to break free from them.

Like many others, I was raised being told that Christian Science was the One True Religion, Ms. Eddy’s “time for thinkers has come” quote was great, and as long as my thought came back to CS as the OTR things were fine. After I moved out, the ingrained CS habits — not going to a doctor, “praying” about (or flat-out ignoring) problems, general ignorance of the human body/basic biology, etc. remained. Acknowledging health issues or other problems (aka “error”) gave them power and made them “real” and therefore even more difficult to “handle” in Science. My negative childhood experiences with dentists, and my mother’s very vocal anti-doctor/anti-medicine stance only reinforced my decision.

What made you decide to leave?

In retrospect I’d been drifting away for years, what really made me examine my beliefs, and their implications, was having children.

Why would anyone join?

Christian Science promises amazing results. Committee on Publications bloggers regularly run articles about healthcare and quantum physics that make Christian Science appear to be a viable alternative to modern medicine and scientific. Spoiler alert: it is not. The Church has over 100 years of “testimonies” of healing attributed to Christian Science, as many Christian Scientists do not visit doctors, and are generally ignorant of human physiology, they regularly are healed of “what appeared to be” the worst-case-scenario from Dr. Google or a concerned friend.

Did you really believe

That’s a complicated one, I’d say I believed at least some of it.

Which part? That there is an omnipotent, omnipresent, omni-everything Loving God? That I was a perfect spiritual reflection of that God? That my wellbeing, health, grades, etc. were all a reflection of how spiritually attuned I was to God? That if I listened to God I would be guided in my decision making? That the belief in sin was punished only so long as the belief lasts? That all of this is an illusion? That there was some secret higher knowledge? That if I studied “the books” hard enough…

Did I really believe that prayer could heal? On some level, yes. Recent Christian Science propaganda has latched on to the “thought impacts health” and to some extent it does, but not to the extent Christian Science would like you to believe. If you want to pick it apart from a Christian perspective, Jesus did not teach that thought impacts health, and Christian Science has set about to restore the lost art of healing the way Jesus did.

Did I really believe in the unreality of matter? I’m less sure of that one, I think that’s been one of the nagging questions that has lingered from when I first started forming questions. No one has ever given me a satisfactory answer to this question.


So where am I now?

I’m aspiring to be a humanist and generally reasonable human being. Some days I am better at this than others.

In the interest of full disclosure, it should be noted that the author of this blog is also an editor/developer of The Ex-Christian Scientist website.

Why I’m doing this (reposted from The Ex-Christian Scientist)

Back in April I wrote my personal mission statement for The Ex-Christian Scientist. My work there, and having a life beyond my Ex-CS activities, are part of the reason I’m on hiatus for the summer. I thought I would share it with you here, and encourage you to visit The Ex-Christian Scientist if you have not already done so. I hope you’re having a relaxing summer. 


I started my journey away from Christian Science a little over six years ago. I had been struggling to make it work, and a series of pivotal, life-changing events finally forced me to acknowledge that Christian Science was not right for me.

Leaving Christian Science was one of the most difficult things I’ve done, and I don’t want anyone to feel they have to do it alone. I have been fortunate to have the support of my husband, and a group of close fellow-former-Christian Science friends, as I’ve made my journey way.

I’m launching the sort of support website for former Christian Scientists that I wanted when I started on my journey away from Christian Science. I don’t want to focus on the gut-wrenching horror stories many of us have in our pasts, I want to focus on helping people get the appropriate care and support they need.

I am not going to tell you which spiritual path you should take, I’m going to encourage you to find your own. I don’t want to save your soul, I want you to take care of your body so you can have a long and healthy life. I don’t want you to feel alone, or crazy, as you leave Christian Science, I want you to realize there are others out there who have left as well, and it is okay to question, doubt, and leave. I want to help direct you to resources you may find useful on your journey, support communities, articles on healthcare, books.

Peace be with you,

Kat

Founder & Editor in Chief
The Ex-Christian Scientist

Launching www.ExChristianScience.com

I’d like to share with you an exciting new resource for those who are doubting, questioning, leaving or have left Christian Science.


unnamed-2A group of former members of the Christian Science Church have launched a new website designed as a resource for people who have left or are considering leaving the Christian Science faith. Christian Science (not to be confused with Scientology) was founded by Mary Baker Eddy in the late 19th century and is perhaps best known as a sect that rejects medical treatment, advocating prayer exclusively for healing.

The website, called The Ex-Christian Scientist (www.exchristianscience.com), is maintained by an informal group of about fifty former Christian Scientists “who strive to assist those questioning their commitment to Christian Science as well as those who have already left it.” Individual members of the group left Christian Science for varying reasons. Some are still religious, some are not. All, however, are united in their desire to help those who are questioning Christian Science to decide if there is a more appropriate path for themselves, and to provide an inclusive and understanding community for those who leave the faith.

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