Today, April 27, 2014, marks one year since I posted the first post that got this little project of mine off the ground. A lot has changed in my life, and much has remained the same. I continue in my growth as a “former Christian Scientist”, and in that respect, my life has moved in directions I never would have thought it would, and been richer and more fulfilling than ever. I also can’t believe how fast a year has passed.
Since I’m a bit of a statistics nerd (statistics are also part of my day job), I’ll start with some nerdy facts. In the past year, Emerging Gently has had almost 11,000 views from about 47 different countries: from Australia and Angola to Zimbabwe, with some interesting ones like Latvia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the United Arab Emirates in between. My largest readership by far is in the United States (just over 9,000 views), followed by my home country of Canada (1,400 views). The rest are less than 1,000 each; interestingly, I do seem to have at least one regular reader in the United Arab Emirates, and have recently added one from Russia. My most read post so far is “Why Are Christian Science Churches So Empty Today?” with 164 views. I’m always intrigued when an older post gets a hit. Google has sent over 1,800 views my way, and others come via Facebook and other blogs. Compared to most blogs out there, these are very modest statistics, but it is impressive to me, considering that this blog started out as mainly a therapeutic effort for me as I work to heal and move on from the traumas and resulting anger inflicted on me from my experience as a Christian Scientist, without much thought of how many people might actually bother to read what I write. I just wanted to toss my story and thoughts out there to the “universe” so to speak, and say what I need to say.
Scarcely more than a year ago, I never envisioned I would keep a public blog such as this, or tell stories of my life to complete strangers such as I have here. In person, in “real life”, I am a very introverted, and painfully shy person, who is especially uncomfortable within groups of people I don’t know. Getting up on any sort of soapbox is light years out of my comfort zone. Why have I done it here? Quite frankly, I’ve needed to. I’ve needed to “take out the garbage”, so to speak. Sometimes, when you’ve experienced trauma, or something that has otherwise turned your life upside down, you just need to talk about it–even if that talking is to a computer keyboard and an audience of readers you never see, and in most cases will never know personally. It’s been deeply touching to hear some of the stories of readers who have e-mailed me or commented on some posts. From the outset, I felt that if I reached and helped just one person who’s on the same journey I’ve been on, that would be good enough for me. This blog has touched a chord with many people who’ve reached out to me, and possibly many more who just read and move on.
I’ve been inspired and comforted by others who have told their stories publicly, and I felt that perhaps my own story could help someone else. I’m grateful to say that over the past year I have enjoyed correspondence with a few people who found resonance between my story, and their own journey in (and out) of Christian Science. Some have become on-line friends I enjoy regular “conversations” with now. Sometimes, all the help you need when you’re dealing with a difficult situation is the knowing glance, and advice of someone else who has been where you are, and understands what you’re dealing with. For the ex-Christian Scientist, those understanding people are unfortunately few and far between. If it wasn’t for the internet and social media, many of us would likely feel like lone wolves in a limitless wilderness.
So, what’s happened to me in the past year? Well, big steps for someone who spent their life indoctrinated in Christian Science. I finally got connected with a regular doctor (general practitioner), and had my first physical since I was 20 (I am now in my mid 40’s). Fears I have harboured for a number of years about possible horrid diseases I may have (because I thought I had the symptoms) have vanished. My bloodwork came back with all normal indicators. The only thing that was of even minor concern was “bad” cholesterol which was only at the higher end of the normal range, but the ratio with the “good” stuff made it such that it was only something to be aware of, not something requiring immediate and radical change. I have been diagnosed with asthma, exacerbated by an extreme allergy to cats–so my four legged feline roommate may soon be finding a new home with a dear friend who offered to take her without me even asking. If I do let her go, it won’t be an easy thing to do, but I realize it will be the best thing for me, and for the cat. For her to continue living with me may require some mitigation measures that she would not like. Also, her presence in my friend’s life will be a tremendous benefit to my friend’s mental health. Getting myself to that point where I’m willing to let go of Miss Feline is not going to be easy.
I’ve also become more open about having left Christian Science, and I’ve begun to offer behind the scenes help to those who advocate for the repeal of laws exempting Christian Scientists and other faith healers from prosecution for child neglect when their children suffer or die as a result of their faith. Since most of these laws exist only in the United States, and I am Canadian, my help is more of a behind-the-scenes supportive role–mostly conducting research, something I’ve done professionally in the past. I’m more than happy to leave the limelight to others.
There are still times when I think, “would I ever go back to Christian Science?” I can definitely say that with the passage of time, and the increasing realization on my part that medical science and doctors are not as evil as I was often taught they were, the answer is a resounding NO. Every time I read passages from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures or other writings of Mary Baker Eddy, which I do now for research purposes for this blog, I wonder how I ever drank that Kool-Aid and accepted it as my guide to life. It is the most incomprehensible gibberish to me now. I must have been crazy! Definitely deluded. I am so happy to be out of that fun-house. In a sort of odd irony, I now find myself reading Eddy’s works, and other Christian Science-related material on perhaps a more consistent basis now as I research references for this blog than I did previously as a nominally practicing Christian Scientist. A fellow ex-Christian Scientist blogger has also noted the same irony in their life too.
I’ve enjoyed my continuing and growing journey in my new spiritual path in First Nations/Native American spirituality. I think of a wonderful teaching a First Nations Elder shared with me this year when I lamented to him how I felt I had wasted the first 40 years of my life in Christian Science, when I felt I could have been on the spiritual path I’m now on. He said, “that time wasn’t wasted, you had to walk that walk to bring you here to where you are now on this Red Road walk.” That took a big weight of guilt I’d been saddling myself with. I can look back on where I’ve been, and see what I’ve learned, and move forward into a life that is truly mine, that fits with who I am, and I couldn’t be happier. If there is one important lesson I’ve learned in the last few years, it is to be honest with myself, and be who I am truly meant to be; not what someone else thinks I should be, or worse yet what I thing someone else thinks I should be.
So, here’s to another year of growth and change. I wonder where we’ll all be on April 27, 2015. As I sit here now, I wonder if I’ll still be writing this blog, or if I’ll get it all out of my system once and for all. Who knows? I’ll be honest, there have been a few times I’ve contemplated hanging up the keyboard, but there still is plenty of gas in the tank, so I’ll keep going. I probably won’t keep this blog going forever; nothing in this world is forever. It will run its course for me at some point, and I’ll either end it or pass it along to someone else.