Finally Releasing the Bonds

I ran into a brick wall on the telling of my story. That is because the next period covers 20 years of marriage to a scientologist and the raising of my children within scientology doctrine. As circumstances are at the moment, with some family members still in and one very ill, I don’t wish to leave them open to any reprisals because of my words. And sadly that is a very real possibility.

I can talk about my own point of view though, and how I finally emerged from the “Truman Show”.

After finally finding proper medical treatment and rehabilitation, and putting my children back into the normal public school system, I had quite a few years of what seemed to be a ‘normal’ life. Well, except for my husband having a serious affair in what he told me later was “an attempt to find a replacement as I thought you were going to die.” Or words to that effect, but I won’t go there.

I didn’t have a lot of contact with the organisation other than occasional obligatory attendance at “events” and giving in to the odd attempt to find “why I had fallen off the Bridge”. Saying we had no money (true) usually did the trick and we were left alone for a while.  I felt totally trapped within the system, (mostly because of my family and the threat of disconnection) even though I wasn’t a real part of it and I think there are many thousands of people out there who feel the same way. The last time I was ever in an org was around 1998 (though I am hazy with dates) when I flew to Sydney Advanced Organisation in some latest “free clean-up”. I still had a teeny tiny thought that perhaps IF the ‘right item” could be found, it would all fall back into place and my doubts would disappear. They didn’t.

By 2000 I had left my husband and was divorced. I had discovered the internet but was still too afraid to read anything critical of scientology. This is one of the hardest pieces of indoctrination to break, the reading of “entheta”. (It’s easier to ignore criticism than examine the opposite point of view.) Instead I studied astrology, which gave me a new viewpoint on the cycles of life and I began the very slow process of examining the concepts that I had been brought up with. I was still getting many phone calls trying to get me back in and even the odd visit, despite me saying I was into “other practices”! The more I came to understand how limited my critical thinking had been, the more confidence I began to find in myself. Around 2002 I read “What is Expected of You as a Life Long Scientologist” and then I started some serious self de-programming.

The last ever visit I had was probably around 2003 when two Sea Org guys came unannounced one afternoon. I was in a good mood that day, so I let them in. We did have a fascinating conversation and I told them exactly what my experience had been and what I thought now. One of them said “you do know stuff don’t you?” and I have never forgotten that comment or the look on his face. I was pretty sure he was close to blowing and I hope he did. In fact he even asked me to run his astrology chart, (the other SO gal was very unimpressed) and I wondered how that would be explained on his next “sec check“.

I started reading critical articles online, starting with Jon Atack’s “A Piece of Blue Sky” as I had known Jon at Saint Hill and his words resonated with my own experiences. Then I read Operation Clambake’s many stories and articles and the more I read, the more I wanted to know. I spent many, many, many hours online, reading everything I could find. Finally in 2006 I found “Scientology -Through the Door” and found the courage for the first time to put my own critical thoughts in the public arena. It was a huge breakthrough for me, and although I did it anonymously I was still scared that somehow it would be traced back to me.

Having started to talk, even in a small way I found it very difficult to really explain my life to people who had no understanding of the subject. A friend finally said “you need to find some ex scientologists to talk to!”  – so I Googled “Ex scientologist” and discovered the Ex Scientologist Message Board.

When I first started posting I used to shake, stomach churning and spilling tears all over the place as piece after piece of my life began to fall into new contexts. It was distressing, exhilarating and totally obsessive! At last I had the freedom to speak, to debate, to think and my life totally changed. My first attempt at telling my story was full of jargon, as I hadn’t learnt to totally speak normally yet, and I think I cried on and off for weeks doing that. It felt like so much pain and emotion was finally finding a way out, to be seen and let go of.

The freedom to speak, to be, to think and to disagree…..I became Free To Shine.

A friend once said that what released her from the bonds of scientology was doing a ‘correction list’ on the item “Opinions you can’t say”. She realised “What am I doing in a group that promises me freedom and I’m not allowed to state my opinion?”.

For those who are ‘keeping quiet’ or don’t know what to do, there is a way to release the bonds and that is simply to allow yourself the freedom to really look. Not the kind of “freedom” scientology promises, but real freedom without “must and must not”.

And it changes your life.

(ps – To the old friend who sent me a cryptic message via a search, please do contact me. It’s really, really ok and I will respect your anonimity.)

A scientology school 1988 – 1990

A strange thing happened to me in late 1988. I had a dream, one that is still burned into my memory to this day, and I am not one for remembering dreams.  I won’t go into details, it concerned me being ‘judged’ by a panel of ‘judges’ that did not seem to have a solid form and they told me that I was “not doing what I should do or using my gifts”. It was very unsettling and I thought about this long and hard and came to the conclusion that somehow I needed to get back to “saving the planet” or something. No other explanation made sense, I didn’t feel that there was much I could do in my life as a wife and mother other than what I was already doing and I had no apparent alternative path in sight. I was enjoying my life and felt a guilty pleasure in it versus working on staff so I let the dream take it’s place in background unconsciousness and laughed off the thought of a dream telling me what to do.

I love gardening and worked hard at it growing wonderful food and flowers. One day a few days after the dream my right knee began to swell and hurt, I thought I had sprained it while gardening. It began to get worse and after seeing different doctors and specialists I had an exploratory operation to check on the cartilage. That wasn’t an answer though and my left knee began to swell as well.

Around this time I was approached to help start a scientology school in Melbourne, something that hadn’t ever been accomplished despite many attempts,. It was to be called the Phoenix school (later renamed Yarralinda).  A school appealed to me as I still believed in the “study tech” and I wanted my kids away from the threat of the drug society in public schools. The woman who was doing the set-up was from scientology standards, unacceptable. (A declared PTS Type III in the past, she had been kidnapped and babysat etc but that is another story.) She wanted a school both for her own daughter and for other scientology kids and knew that she faced enormous challenges in ‘making it go right’.  She knew I was more acceptable to the field, so wanted me to be the public face while she worked behind the scenes doing what was needed. She had recruited enough parents with young children to make it viable and now faced the challenge of making the school “legal” per education authority requirements.

So began one of the nightmare periods of my life. It was so bad that even now I am unable to organise memories into any kind of real sequence or make sense of the insanity that ensued. I also don’t want to name names right now as from where I am sitting years later I also know that the parents involved in the massive dramas and betrayals were acting from a view that they were protecting their children and every parent has that right and duty. The fact that those opinions and viewpoints mostly resulted from insane scientology policies is something many of them still need to understand and I hope one day those that are still “in” have that opportunity.

Long story short, this ‘unacceptable’ person doing the set-up became the focus of the parents and hounding her was more important than combined support for the school. It was inevitable per Hubbard policies and something she had anticipated. Within a short time, and within sight of the final steps to having the school accredited, it became a massive, unbelievable drama. The woman who started it finally took off, as she had always planned to do, and as her chosen replacement as Headmistress would not take on the job, it fell to me. (Later I was told that was exactly why I had been recruited, as the fall guy.)

Trying to do the right thing I asked ABLE (or Applied Scholastics, can’t remember which it was then) to become involved in sorting it all out. Represented by Martin Bentley, he sided with one set of parents, as the school was divided down the middle, approximately 5 families on each side.  Martin sided with the “other” set of parents and the original families (including mine) who started the school were kicked out, so I left and I put my children back in a normal public school. And in so many ways that was a tremendous relief.

During this period I had become very ill. What had started as a swollen knee turned into a raging deterioration of all major joints in my body. I saw many different doctors, specialists, chiropractors, naturopaths and no-one could diagnose or help with what was happening. I lost a great deal of weight and had sometimes unbearable pain in my hips particularly, but also knees, ankles, elbows and jaw. About the only thing I could eat was peanut butter sandwiches, and after about 6 months my legs actually started to turn outwards. I carried a little stool to sit on as I could barely walk, suffered fevers and nausea so badly I thought I was dying. Now this was while I was trying to help set up a school! As long as I was there every day, no-one seemed to care, and being a ‘make-it-go-right” sort of person, I just kept on. I remember taking a walk with Martin late one night, to discuss the school situation, in such agony I thought I would fall down in the street. He didn’t seem to notice, though on reflection I am sure he did and it may have been the deciding factor in which set of parents to support. I was obviously “PTS” and therefore not trustworthy.

After leaving the school I had time to try to find out what was wrong, I think that saved my life. I finally found the right specialist and X-rays showed that my hips had turned in their sockets by 20 degrees. Deterioration of the joints at this speed was unheard of, and the fever and raging illness was dangerous; he arranged for immediate hip replacements and medication to arrest the disease. It took a few years of constant medical attention and medication and almost dying in surgery but I finally recovered enough to walk again. It’s an unclassifiable inflammatory arthritis and it took me many, many years to finally accept that it was not due to “something I had pulled in” per scientology but rather genetics.

The fallout from the school saga continued for some months and the woman who started the school was Comm Evd (a scientology trial) and found guilty of everything under the sun except starting a school! I owe her no favours, but that does not sit well with me and is typical of the scientology “justice system”.

I feel sad that those lovely children I knew back then had to go through the reflected horrors of that time and have their own lives disrupted. I am very glad that my own children survived it ok, though with scars. After leaving the school I found that I had no “friends” anymore, no support or care in any way from any scientologist.

That was my real wake-up call and truly the moment I left scientology. Even though I paid it lip service for another decade and appeared to do the right things, I knew it did not hold the answers for me when basic humanity and compassion were foreign words. So back to my dream – it was in 1989-90 that I began the very slow path of finding my gifts and perhaps doing more of what I ‘should do’ – finding a happier life. I still question the dream’s meaning or wonder if it had any significance at all, yet events since then have led me on a path that does seem more aligned with who I am – I just needed to realise it would never come via scientology.

Family Life 1982 – 1988

Walking away from the scientology organisation in Russell Street, Melbourne is a day I will never forget. The relief was so massive and I felt excited at the immediate future; being a proper mother at last, despite the exhaustion I felt at the time. I was going to be there for my family and not have children as a second priority to whatever disaster scientology was trying to overcome at the time.  This was such a huge decision and required a courage born of desperation.

I can’t remember if we moved out of the shared (scientology staff) house before or after I left, I think it was just before. I can’t even remember what happened to my husband regarding being married to a ‘blown staff member’, somehow we just sank out of sight and out of mind, which is quite unusual. 1982 was the year when management was busily rearranging the Mission Network and goodness knows what else, and was a period where many thousands of people left scientology, so I guess I was just one of the many.

I did get a Freeloader Bill, although I successfully argued that many of the “courses” I was being charged for were not for personal spiritual advancement but rather work related. I’m not sure how I managed that! It ended up only being a few hundred dollars which was paid off over a period of time and thus I once again became a ‘scientologist in good standing’ although an inactive one regarding taking any courses or auditing, I had no intentions of that!

Slowly I felt myself become whole again and not a nervous wreck. Having rest, food and time heals many ills and I had a healthy baby in 1982 and another in 1984, all three babies were wonderful (medically supervised) homebirths. I didn’t really know how to be part of normal society and didn’t understand that there were many organisations and people who were there to help new mothers. The insular attitude of scientologists was still my own…and although I enjoyed motherhood it was also a solitary activity for me. The downside of that was having virtually no support at all, my husband worked very long hours and was almost never there to help with child raising and I didn’t have any real friends until my children went to school. And as he worked night shifts, a lot of these early years were a nightmare of keeping the babies quiet during the day while he slept, an almost impossible task with a lot of ramifications to this day.

After my elder child began school and the other two followed over the next three years, I discovered a whole new world. I became friends with other mothers and instead of finding their conversation trivial and uninteresting as the still ingrained scientologist in me expected (they weren’t trying to save the world were they?) I found wonderful support and unconditional friendship. There was no-one there who was going to report me for disloyal thoughts, or tell me to “get your stats up” or expect impossible physical marathons; they were fellow women who worked through the same mothering issues and understood.

I had a wonderful conversation with two of my kids last night on the subject of education and social morals; they are now successful and capable adults yet it wasn’t always so and I feel that my own internal conflicts about resolving scientology doctrine  about children with what I felt was right caused it’s own problems for them too.

Scientology considers children to be “thetans in small bodies”, in other words adults who need to “regain their (past life) abilities”.  There is a whole book written on this called Child Dianetics and another on ‘The Second Dynamic’. This never sat well with me and I had many internal conflicts on what was the best thing to do in various situations. To me children were just that, children, and deserved to have a happy and carefree childhood. Yet my own indoctrination was the opposite in many ways, and dictated that children be treated as having innate adult understanding!  My husband had a scientology upbringing from a very young age, so when I stepped away from acceptable scientology “handlings” I did so alone.

I negotiated this minefield of conflicting information for many, many years and the most decisive step came in 1988 when I was approached to help start a scientology school.

More stories on children raised in scientiology can be found at Ex Scientology Kids.

 

Happy times

 

This story so far perhaps sounds somewhat bleak so I wanted to add that there were happy times as well…of course. However I am writing about how scientology affected my life and how it’s presence shadowed every event and decision in some way. It’s those times that I could, for a moment, step away that were the times of joy.

I decided when I left staff that I would devote at least the next five years to TOTALLY being a mother and I would guard that precious decision with the passion of a mother lioness, which I did. And during that time I allowed that side of myself to come to the fore and had some very happy times. By 1985 I had 3 toddlers/babies under 5 years old and it certainly kept me busy. I wish I could post photos of them, however it is not a good idea to do so at the moment. One day it will be possible.

I will be away from this blog for a few weeks due to surgery and post op care so do check back then.

 

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!

Life in Scotland 1970, an interlude

Scotland
My new husband and I went to Scotland to start anew, blessed with the courage of the young (he was only a couple of years older than me.) I had absolutely no idea of what I was headed into and was trusting that it would certainly be better than the life I had left behind. I was 17 years old and with so much having happened within the last couple of years I also hoped that I could somehow learn about and begin a ‘normal’ life.

I had visited Edinburgh in 1969 when I had joined the SO. I didn’t get to see much of the city though, as you can imagine. I remember grey…grey … and cobblestone streets. The buildings are grey, the roads are grey. And of course the skies. I wish now I had been able to really see more.

Life in a small Scottish village north of Glasgow was a tremendous culture shock. It was a beautiful place. The village was crowded around the end of the loch, wee houses with boats out front, and surrounded by the mountains. Picture postcard beautiful, with snow showing almost all year round on their peaks. The first thing that struck me was the cold. Oh my God, it was cold to a young Aussie! I wore multiple layers and suffered badly and was told scornfully by the locals the only way to be comfortable was to acclimatise.

My mother-in-law didn’t like me at all and we were living with her in a tiny council flat.
Somehow we got by. I learned to shop in the tiny local grocery. We ate lots of canned goods and instant meals as I didn’t know how to cook, and she refused to other than a family meal now and then. But when she did cook it was glorious! Lots of haggis and turnips and mash, I loved it.

The only heating in the tiny hoose was a wood fire that also heated the water tank above it. So no hot water most of the day. When I washed clothes and hung them outside they tended to freeze solid in the winter. This was amazing to me and I’d go around knocking on them.

I wanted to fit in, I had no intention of going back to East Grinstead, but it was almost impossible. I started having bad headaches and went to the local doctor. Within an hour my mother-in-law asked me if I was pregnant (and didn’t look pleased at the prospect). Apparently I had been seen by some of the locals walking away from the surgery with a green form (diet sheet) that was usually handed out to pregnant ladies! Word spread fast in that place, the curtains twitched whenever I went out. It’s funny looking back on it now.

I loved to roam the local hills above the village. The views were so breathtaking, I can remember them still, and the smell of truly fresh air. I remember going on a picnic once, a great outdoor event on another close by loch. Terrific food, good company and a million bloody European wasps. It didn’t seem to bother anyone that they were crawling all over the food.

Every afternoon at 4pm we had to go to my husband’s grandparent’s house for High Tea. This was very ritualised, with a precise number of cakes and tea. I liked them, they were very down to earth and only saw their grandson starting life with a new wife, unlike his mother. Then dinner was 8-9pm and that was a full meal.

There was a local Mission in Helensburgh, not too far away run by Sheena and Hunter Robinson. We went there a few times with the intention of working towards getting back on lines, but I don’t remember much about it and nothing came of it.

The funniest thing about my life in Scotland was that I started to mimic the accent.
“Och away wi’ya, ya daft wee hen” etc. It became so pronounced that towards the end of my time there my mother couldn’t understand me on the phone. I can still translate Billy Connolly quite well.

Life there didn’t suit me, and I soon found my husband was as crazy as you could imagine. I mean really, really nuts. He would fly into rages and have “invisible” stalkers. His mother hated me, this blonde bimbo from Australia who had taken her son. It was not fun.

I had left Scientology, left my family, left everything I had known. The relief I had felt at leaving behind the insanity started to recede in importance as I wondered what my life would become where I was. Isolated way up north, not in the country of my birth, I wanted to be with my family. But my family were in Scientology and I had fled it…..

Eventually I couldn’t take it as my husband was starting to become more and more crazy and violent in his actions, so I knew I had to get out or my life was in danger. I told him I was leaving and he threw all my clothes down the stairs and was so angry he broke off a piece of the stair railing and came after me with it. I stayed locked in a room and the next morning went to the local train station and sat there until the train came.

I travelled from one end of the country to the other and it was, for me, a terrifying experience. However I was befriended by a solider on his way back to London. I didn’t trust him at first, I was so scared  but he bought me lunch, chatted quietly and calmed my fears. When the train reached London he found a cab for me back to East Grinstead and waved goodbye. I have never forgotten him, and thank him for looking after me.

Leaving staff the first time

This period of my life was total stress. I was living in a room at the Stables (part of the original property converted to a few apartments) and I tried to cope with a newborn babe at the age of 16, while working on staff. My parents were busy and I didn’t have any other support or knowledge of caring for a baby. I couldn’t cope with all the dirty nappies either, and started storing them in cupboards out of desperation. They were discovered and I was asked to leave, and moved back with my parents.

I don’t know if the time sequence is right here, but sometime around then Martyn’s Place (a huge old mansion with about 20 bedrooms) was finished being renovated and my family moved there. It was a really beautiful place and I remember it fondly, and will try to post some pics sometime. I continued working on staff.

During this time I was raped by a student who I was silly enough to go for a walk with in the woods one day. I wasn’t hurt, except emotionally, and so shocked by what happened and the guilt of “pulling it in” that I didn’t tell anybody. How could I say it was rape when I had kissed him? I didn’t even know at that time that being pushed to the ground, jeans ripped while I was saying “no” was rape. He was a respected older student at Saint Hill and who would believe me? And if I did tell, it would cause a huge Public Relations “flap” and be bad for scientology. It took 30 years for that to come out, I cried for a week when I first told someone, and it has had a lot to do with my subsequent healing.

This is the sort of thing that interests me, as it reflects the values of the group. I did not feel safe enough to report a sexual crime, and lived with the certainty for many years that it was all my fault. Of course this is not unusual, but here was I in the midst of the supposedly safest place on the planet, and I could not tell ANYONE.
Heavy ethics penalties were brought in while I was on staff there. This meant that if your ‘statistics’ on your job (post) were down on the week before, physical restrictions were assigned. For example after a ‘downstat’ week I was not allowed to leave the premises, get food, shower etc. There was nothing I could do immediately to get my stats up and I remember once having to try to find somewhere to sleep the night other than under a desk. A friend whispered that there was a key to LRH’s camera/photography room he could get, so we spent the night there, on the floor amongst Hubbard’s cameras! If we had been found there would have been hell to pay.

I met my first husband on staff, we had an instant rapport and decided to marry quickly, and escape Saint Hill. I had to argue long and hard to get my parent’s permission and I knew it also meant leaving my baby behind for some time.  She was settled within our family and I knew she would be safe, I had been becoming more and more unhappy on staff, it was really an insane time and place to be. He was unhappy on staff too, and the thought of the freedom of a new life with him was too enticing to ignore. Our wedding was arranged to be held in Saint Hill Chapel. I can’t remember the sequence precisely; I think I blew the day before the wedding as I had been refused permission for leave.  I still was married in Saint Hill Chapel! How did I manage that? I am still amazed. Only half the guests came, and I suppose the fact that any did was because they hadn’t heard I was blowing ! My new husband and I drove off into the sunset (towards Scotland) with a profound sense of relief. I will remember that feeling forever. In my mind I had totally left scientology and I didn’t intend to come back to it, however life isn’t always that easy.

Family Truths

Writing this next part of my story is one of the hardest things I have done. Not so much for the gathering of words, more the gathering of thoughts. When I first wrote an outline of my story on ESMB I covered this era in a few sentences, this time the depth of emotions revealed were somewhat shocking to me and I need to write it out. Thankyou to some precious friends who have helped me put it all in perspective these last few weeks.

Working in any scientology organisation is not a 9-5 job and I think that’s an important point to mention. Dedication to the ideals lead you to want to help to the best of your ability, so you join staff and sign a contract for 2 ½ or 5 years (or in the case of the Sea Org it’s a billion years). Once you are absorbed into the machinery ‘working’ becomes virtually your total life and any room for individuality and personal time is rare.

I still don’t know how I managed to work with a newborn baby under my desk! Perhaps it was that I had a ready smile and she was so cute. My memories of this time are so hazy, in fact one of the few things that come to mind are of her being taken for walks by a lovely helpful young girl who later became my dearest friend of 40 years.

At the time I was living in the Stables, originally the actual stables of Saint Hill Manor which had been converted into some living areas. I had a tiny room and communal use of other facilities. Two other memories seared on my mind are of sobbing in absolute despair while my newborn baby screamed and I didn’t know what to do. It was just me and I had to try to keep things quiet for other residents. The other was of sitting by the window for hours, watching and waiting for the lone motorbike headlight that would be my baby’s father coming to see me, as we were together again for a short period. I still lived with the hope that somehow, someday, we could be a family and had named him in her birth certificate for this very reason. It was not to be, he was as young as me and subject to his own family issues with the added life changing challenges of having just returned from the ship where Hubbard was at the time.

I can’t remember the exact arrangements I had with my parents; I know we shared the care of my baby during week staff times and weekends. They were working too, studying and raising all my siblings and somehow we managed to hold it together, despite the long hours all round.  (Having raised three other children since then, I understand why this period is a blank to me now.)

In scientology, it is part of the indoctrination that you don’t show your inner turmoil, you don’t have “case on post” or “human emotion and reaction” – a great description of this is here, written by John Peeler.

This concept and conditioning has been one of the hardest things to shed and has affected my whole life. You just ‘get on with it’, you smile and you pretend no matter that your heart is breaking inside. And my heart was broken, no matter how it appeared to others, as it became plain my romantic family ideal was never to be and life continued as a constant round of coping, until an incident where dirty nappies were found in a cupboard meant I had to move out of the Stables. I was working long hours, it became my whole life as tends to happen on staff. Gradually mum took over the mothering role more and more, it just sort of happened and my baby became another child in our large family.

The point came where my parents formally adopted her and changed her surname to theirs to make life a little less complex. The Adoption Court had a requirement that she know who her real mother was, and she and I had many conversations over the years about it all, starting when she first learned to talk. In fact the last conversation I had with her some years ago was on this subject, prior to the real reason for her visit.  She had come to “handle” me to stop me telling my scientology story, and when I refused to do so she disconnected.

The problem is that those conversations were when I was still a scientologist or just newly ‘out’ – and now I’m not. I no longer choose to believe that I was just a vessel for her birth into her scientology family of choice. That she was ‘there’ at her conception and chose the way it turned out. As I’m getting into the realm of beliefs, and I am happy to let people think what they may, I repeat – I no longer believe that. This whole concept negates me as a person who had dreams and free will of my own – I wanted a baby and I went against convention to carry her to term with hopes it would all somehow miraculously turn out right. The reason it didn’t was that there simply wasn’t any support for me to do that back then.

Last year a counsellor said to me, after hearing the bare outline of my story, “You lost your baby, you had no control.” At the time I didn’t really see that as it was not the “acceptable truth” I had lived with for so long and “control” and “being cause” is a huge issue for anyone who has been a scientologist. However that simple statement opened the door to the part of my heart that I had bricked over and shut down. No-one had ever said that to me before. Many months and tears later I agree with her, I had not realised what lay behind that brick wall. I remembered the last 40 years of having to pretend she was my sister, when to me she never, never was. Grandparents adopting their child’s baby is not that unusual in times gone by, hence the Adoption Court’s sensible ruling; it’s just in this case it was complicated by a belief system. Coming to understand my own actions, the guilt of taking what seemed the easier route, the grief of loss unacknowledged, the decades of distorted truth and strange family interactions is a huge step towards coming to understand who I am, my hidden feelings of failure and so on.

I love my parents dearly and thank them for everything they did to raise us all, which I know they did to the best of their ability. Unfortunately something went wrong along the way and in her mind my mother actually became my baby’s birth mum as well. We were at a wedding about 10 years ago and commenting on all my sister’s dresses and she said, “XXX  just has a different father, same mother”. That was somewhat shocking to say the least and explained a lot, yet in my mind I had abdicated responsibility, so who was I to argue when decades had passed? If that is what my mother had come to believe, then I would let it rest for the sake of family harmony. I didn’t understand then that my silence was condoning an outdated lie and that there was absolutely no considerations of my feelings and really never had been.

Many people knew the truth anyway so my daughter and I agreed at one point that when she was in Melbourne where I was, she would be introduced as my daughter, and when in Sydney where my parents were, she was my sister, and we did this for mum’s sake. It was really just a band-aid solution and didn’t address the real issues, as we could not.  My mother was her mum, she had raised her and in respect of that I had to allow her to be called my sister.  It should never have gone that far, it was only a solution for when she was a child. A sad consequence has been that my daughter’s baby – my granddaughter – did not know the truth of this until she was in her teens, I was her ‘aunty’. I have had almost no contact with her (now exacerbated by disconnection) and hope one day I can be who I really am with her.

A few years ago I had what is probably the last real conversation with my mum, as she has had strokes and is unwell and far away. She said to me very seriously, with tears in her eyes “I have something to say to you…..I’m sorry.” She didn’t have to specify anything; her words covered all the bonds between mother and child. And I told her I was sorry too, and we forgave each other and we hugged each other. God bless you mum.

I look forward to the day the same thing can happen with my own firstborn.

And now I send these words out into the world, with love.