1980 – 82 on staff in Melbourne

I was lucky to be allowed to bring my baby to work with me for a short time although it was extremely difficult. There was no running water or facilities and trying to keep him quiet and entertained was almost impossible. Another GO staff member, Joy Allsop, also had her baby there and often there would be two babies crying for attention.  I was allowed to work only ‘day’ hours during those months but then was ordered to be on post for the fulltime schedule, which was 9am – 10.30pm with Sunday afternoon off, and I think that happened to Joy as well. It’s surprising we managed to do that for the time we did.  I had no real support and the stress was so great that my husband blew staff (left without permission) in order for us to survive financially. He was almost expelled from the “church” at this point but managed to sort it out and come back to work part time. I found day care for my infant, something I had never wanted to do, hand him over to a stranger to raise. I still had to cope with a baby ‘on post’ after day care hours were over, and study as well (a staff requirement) and I was desperately unhappy trying to juggle it all. The only times that had been real fun were in the early days when a group of us would go and have pizza and play Pacman once the dreaded ‘Thursday 2pm’ was past for the week, and those days were long gone.

I remember one time there was a “Garrison Mission” and still being ‘on post’ at 1am with a small, tired and unhappy baby trying to pass a “White Glove inspection”. That meant that every surface had to be totally clean, an almost impossible task in an old building, especially considering the inspection included tops of doors and skirting boards etc. I thought I would never get to go home, though eventually I ‘passed’.

My job at that time was basically as a recruiter for the GO, something I hated. It was extremely hard to find people who met the strict requirements and therefore we had an “Expansion Unit” (XPU for short) where I wrote ‘programs’ for recruits to follow until they were qualified. I loved the interaction with people, however anyone who has recruited staff for scientology will understand the pressure to ‘get that signature on that contract’. Elaine was the real recruiter; she would do whatever it took to get someone to sign up, from screaming matches behind closed doors to being their best friend.

I forgot to mention earlier that her husband Laurie had passed away in the time before the move into the city. This was a devastating loss to not only Elaine, but his many friends. At that point she was recruited for the Sea Organisation (SO), although still fulfilling her post as Assistant Guardian Melbourne. This wonderful lady who had been my friend began to change from that point, and become a true Sea Org member. I was promoted to be her ‘Communicator’, which is basically like a secretary/personal assistant and helping out with typing for Bureau One (Intelligence). There were more and more incidents of Elaine giving someone an “SRA” in her office – Severe Reality Adjustment – during which we became very busy elsewhere and hoped one was never aimed at us.

My baby was starting to get sick more and more often, running fevers and hardly sleeping. I decided I had just had to leave, but was ‘handled’ to stay with reduced hours, i.e. I went home at night. Immediately my son started to sleep and wasn’t so sick. My husband was able to mind him sometimes, and that reduced the pressure on me. One day my toddler pulled a cup of hot tea onto his arm and face while I was distracted, resulting in a 3 day stay in the Hospital Burns unit. I was devastated and became even more highly stressed for his safety and our future. I felt bad about not being a good mother on one hand and on the other knew that my leaving would mean a whole new world of pain.

Yet again I was persuaded to stay, “for the greatest good”. Your life as an individual becomes almost worthless compared to the all encompassing need to be part of “clearing the planet” and the carrot of possibilities for your own spiritual gain that scientology promised us all. If you ‘broke a staff contract’ you would be given a “Freeloader Bill” to pay for any services received and denied the “Bridge” until you did all you had to do to regain ‘good standing’.

It was suddenly decided my past “blow” at Saint Hill made me a ‘security risk’ for the Guardian’s Office. Someone made that decision and it didn’t matter the years of hard work and dedication and hardships I had endured to be a staff member. So I could no longer be Elaine’s Communicator and was made the Project I/C for a huge international event, which took 5 months to organise. I was pregnant again, yet managed to pull it off somehow with great success.

At the end of that marathon I was a physical and emotional wreck and when I started to have false labour pains at about 5 months, my doctor became very concerned and said I had to rest. This was the crunch point and once again I faced the decision between being a mother in the best way I could, or following the path scientology decreed. (That being that I continue to work, no matter the risk to the baby or myself and “make it go right”.) It’s funny how life does that for you, give you another look at an issue and a choice for a different approach to it.

I finally decided that the health of both my son and unborn child –  and myself – was more important than anything else and I had to take a break. Woohoo for a flash of sanity!

I remember the day I told Elaine I was leaving very well, early 1982. I actually only asked for a Leave of Absence until the baby was safely delivered and the result was one of the dreaded SRA’s (Severe Reality Adjustments) from her. I was screamed at and basically reduced to rubble by someone who I had shared a great deal of my life with the past few years, that I had shared a house and ‘family’ life with…. I couldn’t believe that she would do that to me. I know now how naive and unrealistic I was back then but its how I felt. She called me “one of the black hats”, that is “those who leave when things are getting better”, presumably because of their own ‘evil purposes about the expansion of scientology’. I know… I know….unbelievable. In fact it was this concept that made me decide to totally leave. To see my ‘friend’ accuse me of such things, to be so vicious and scathing and treat me as the lowest lowlife you can imagine was more than I could bear. I turned around and walked out of that office and away from scientology staff forever.

Well almost.

1978 – 1980 Melbourne


In early 1978 I returned to Australia, although to Melbourne instead of Sydney. I only had my brother as family in Australia, as we had been shunned as a family by other relatives for being scientologists, so I followed him. (Most of the others in the UK returned in a trickle over the years.) There was a period of culture shock for the second time in my life as I readjusted to the open spaces and different way of life in the country of my birth. I didn’t really know where to start or what I wanted from life, starting afresh at 25 years old.

The obvious connections I did have were scientology ones. Being an inherent optimist, I thought that perhaps the insanity I had lived in the UK would not be here in this far away country. I had also grown up in an environment of “them and us” where the only people you could really trust, who would really understand you, were fellow scientologists. So it was one of life’s crossroads and unfortunately I did not travel the unknown roads but returned to the life and belief systems I had been raised in.

As I had blown staff (unauthorised departure meaning I had ‘crimes’) in the UK I was ineligible to join again without a lot of ‘amends’ (making up the damage) to show I was trustworthy. So I started doing volunteer work for Citizens Commission Human Rights (CCHR) and the local organisation.

However this didn’t pay the rent, or in fact pay anything at all. The senior executive of the Guardian’s Office in Melbourne was Elaine Allen and I clicked with her immediately. I also became friends with her husband Laurie Allen and he decided to take me under his wing. He helped me set up a small secretarial business to service small businesses in his building and I began to feel more confidence within myself and hopeful for the future.

The CCHR work was mostly done in a tin shed in the backyard of the Melbourne org, and during the summer months this was hell on earth with temperatures over 40C, and freezing in winter. It was a converted house in Inkerman Rd, Caulfield and there wasn’t much room there at all.  I did admin work for a year and a half and studied my Student Hat while doing secretarial work to survive, gradually doing less for CCHR and more for the GO as a volunteer typist. I remember with great fondness David Griffiths and Judy Bozan who worked tirelessly to ‘expose psychiatric abuses’ with an admirable passion. I didn’t agree that “all psychiatrists” were out to damage mankind, not at all, though I kept that to myself. I did agree that there were abuses, as there are in any system, and that was enough for my doubts to be silenced. In truth I really had not been educated much beyond the scientology approved boundaries.

I met my second husband during this time and we married within months, in October 1979. Scientology was going through the start of it’s “Out 2D” purges. (“2D” is the jargon for “Second Dynamic” and deals with family, children, personal relationships and sex.) What it boiled down to was “if you are having a sexual relationship you have to get married.” Our wedding was one of seven at that time, a wedding almost every weekend for a few months as couples made it legal! Scientology’s external public relations at work again.

My memory is a bit hazy on exact dates here, I know when it was deemed I had done enough “amends” I petitioned to be able to join staff again, and it was okayed, so I finished up my secretarial business and signed a 5 year staff ‘contract’ for the GO in Melbourne.  I became pregnant  and my husband took a second job to support us, he was also working on staff which paid next to nothing. We moved into a large bluestone building in Fitzroy that Elaine Allen rented, it had a lot of bedrooms sublet to selected staff…..her security as a senior executive had to be maintained.

I was happy during that time. Newly married, the anticipation of a child that I could actually raise and be a mother to, part of the ‘elite’ of scientology staff (by virtue of being in the GO) and a nice place to live. We were on the very top floor in an attic room, so the stairs were hard work as my pregnancy progressed, however the people there were like a family and we all had the common goals of scientology and it was a small price to pay.

Elaine and I would go out on Saturday mornings to the markets and plan meals for the coming week, in those early days we did actually often finish work at a reasonable hour and come home to eat. She also allowed to me take naps in the backseats of cars during the last months of pregnancy. Elaine had children herself and was as happy as I was about the baby, a stark contrast to what happened in the Sea Org (though I didn’t know that then).

Elaine Allen, son Shaun and Jose McLaughlin

In March 1980 the Melbourne org was burnt down, which was a tremendous shock. The GO blamed it on ASIO as we were ‘so successful”. I think only the top floors were destroyed and by some chance most of the PC folders were not harmed. The organisation then operated from five different private houses for quite some time, coming together a few times a week for staff meetings. My memory of that time is one of great team spirit and “making things go right” (a favourite scientology catch phrase) against the odds. “Rocky” was our theme – it was us against ASIO and the SPs out there who were trying to take us down! New premises were bought in Russell Street in the city in 1980 and the organisation started it’s new life there.

I worked until the day my baby was born and luckily was granted 5 weeks maternity leave. I had a wonderful homebirth, and it was just in time to be announced at Friday muster. My baby rarely slept more than a few hours at a time and became very ill when he was a few weeks old. I coped as best I could, my mum flew out from the UK for a few weeks which was much appreciated and the other people in the house helped as much as they could.  I returned to work to find there was a big “flap” with everyone in the GO being labelled as “DB shits” (degraded beings) for some obscure reason and having to stay and study a particular policy letter until you ‘passed the checkout’.I remember feeling really sick, holding a newborn baby late into the night and feeling like it was my UK experience all over again. Well actually it was….

More soon.

1971 – 77 Saint Hill

Sunrise

I managed to get a room at Martyn’s Place ( a converted manor house with about 20 bedrooms run by scientologists) and began to rebuild my life. My crazy husband followed me soon after and goodness knows why – I believed everything he told me and decided to try again as he promised to get auditing. However over the next year or so he went totally nuts. He had ‘monsters’ that shadowed him, he would end up cowering in terror in a corner of a room. He shaved his head and threatened suicide many times.

I hadn’t gone back on staff, but he was still a threat to the organisation of scientology, as is anyone or anything that may cast a bad public relations light on them. The Guardians Office became involved of course and I was informed that it had come up in one of his auditing sessions that he had been given ECT when he was a child, (during a school trip to Russia) and that he was a “plant” (someone sent in by suppressive people to infiltrate the organisation)! He had told me about the trip, and looking back on it now it seems crazy that I believed what I was told. I was ordered to “handle it”, and in fact my landlord was also told that he wouldn’t be able to continue in scientology himself if he did not get my husband off the premises. Thankfully he was persuaded to leave peacefully. He was a sad, deluded bloke with problems who was attracted to a ‘religion’ that he thought may have helped him. Anyway, I have never seen or heard from him again, other than swapping divorce papers.

Looking back it’s almost unbelievable how you go along with whatever you are told within the group. I now know it was a matter of self-esteem, of being convinced I was not capable of thinking for myself, or that I had any rights beyond the ones the group allowed me, as long as I did what I was told. There is such a threat of being abandoned to the wicked outside world that you mostly tend to do what you are told, especially when young.

Despite being a good little compliant Scientologist, I didn’t rejoin staff at that time and instead ventured out into the world. I needed to pay my rent and look after myself and being on staff didn’t support that. What an experience, as I had no concept of what it was like to have a normal job. So began an intensive education of myself to be able to interact with what they called “wogs” – the rest of the human race. I managed it reasonably well and found out what it was like to buy myself clothes and THINGS. I met nice people and gradually found that it was ok to be outside the confines of Saint Hill.  I ended up working in the same company as another ex staff, Barbara Vowles, she helped me a lot but sadly was dismissed – I think for speaking out about something. I often wondered what happened to her.

I also did a lot of volunteer work, like Receptionist Saint Hill, while I was suspended between two worlds.

I can’t remember much of these years. Eventually I reached a point where I knew my life was going nowhere in the UK and with the help of my brother, decided to return to Australia in 1977.

My scientology auditing and training:

I had been audited up the grades by a family member and  did NED (New Era Dianetics) auditing and training. Over the years I ended up having my grades single flow, triple flow, quad flow and Expanded. I was given Method I Word Clearing. I hated NED and ended up getting very frustrated and making up space opera events. They read…hey! I didn’t really, in my heart of hearts, ever feel that I gained anything from the auditing, other than minor periods of feeling good for a while. Of course this thought could never be expressed, in ANY way. During a session with a lovely lady I apparently voiced the “Clear cognition” and she went  battled hard for me to be able to attest to it. There was much consultation and disagreement and I remember her banging someone’s desk in her determination that it would not be dismissed. I was allowed to attest to “keyed-out Clear”. This was before everyone and his dog attested to Clear, that came later.

All I knew is that I felt really good, that the thoughts I had told her were simply normal to me, that it was a state of how I had always been and had never put into words. I mean after all, I was supposedly far from the top of the Bridge and was not supposed to feel like this until I had done a whole lot more.

I also was given special processes straight from Hubbard himself, which he was apparently Case Supervising. I was a guinea pig, though happy at the time to do it, feeling very special. I think from what I have read now it was either L10 or L11 (confidential levels), Heavy stuff. I apparently did OK, I didn’t ever hear anything more about it. That auditing stayed with me for a long time, not in a good way. The weight of my whole track “overts” was grim indeed, with no-one to talk to about it, or help me understand. I felt like a very bad person, pretending to be ‘normal.’

Mish mash memories of Saint Hill

Being on Reception and having a woman run in screaming that her husband had just killed himself. I can’t remember who it was or what happened other than her wanting a Guardians Office person to make it right, and her extreme distress.

Being locked in a tent after ‘The Battle of Britain’ event where no-one was allowed to leave until they had signed up for their next level. The angry queue of people waiting to get out that door!

The secrecy.

Things that had to be done yesterday.

The drama of flaps to be handled.

Not having anything you had produced with blood sweat and tears taken into account or remembered beyond the time it happened.

Being so very tired, and often hungry.

Being stressed about finding a lift into East Grinstead as it was an awfully long walk. I was once stopped by the police walking down that road, a young female late at night. They gave me a lift. Most of the time you waited in the car park until someone took you home, or close by. I remember the crowding of many more students into cars than was safe, especially when it was snowing. Getting a lift with a US celebrity in his wonderful Lotus, what a trip that was!