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Recurring Nightmare of Attempted Escape
I'm in a small room with just a bed, a dresser, and two windows, and I cannot leave.
I have a cult member with me, watching me, 24/7. They are there to "keep me from harming myself," but I know it's so I won't try to escape.
Meals are brought to me and my guard daily. I don't get to choose what I eat and I have no access to money or opportunities to buy other food, so I choke down the dry, overcooked chunks of meat and rice as best I can, despite my vegan preference.
I have no access to phones or TV—no contact with the outside world and only my eyes and my mind to offer any form of entertainment. The only books I am allowed are all written by the founder of my cult.
I'm made to take daily walks through the dirtiest streets of Hollywood in order to "keep myself extroverted," and do small menial tasks in my lonely room—cleaning floors and bathrooms, or alphabetizing files—while day after day I wait to be allowed to contact my family and go home.
I'm not allowed to associate with any of my friends or my husband of ten years. I'm not allowed to call my family. No one knows where I am—and this goes on for several weeks.
Every day a different cult leader comes to talk to me and every day I go through hours of confession while attached to a device (similar to a lie detector) that supposedly reads electrical changes in my mind.
They think I'm sick or just "going through something," and somehow everything can be resolved. They believe the only reason people want to leave any group is hidden transgression, and the only cure is confession.
But I have no transgressions to confess and all I ever say is, "I want to talk to my mom and I want to go home." And by home I mean NOT the small dorm they've provided me for the past eleven years.
Months start to go by since the time I told them I wanted to either kill myself or be allowed to leave and go back to live with my parents, and eventually someone important decides they can't keep trying to fix me forever.
I knew if I waited long enough...
I am made to sign papers stating I joined the cult of my own volition and they are not responsible for anything bad that has ever happened to me. I have no plans to take legal recourse, and I don't hesitate because it's the only way I know I'll be allowed to escape.
I'm able to see my husband one last time before I leave (this is where the nightmare gets dark) and he asks me point blank if I want him to come with me.
I die a little inside as I lie to him, "If you left with me, I'd divorce you anyway."
They are watching and I'm made to feel it was the right thing to do as I leave the first real love of my life behind, whom I married when I first joined the cult at 19 years old.
I take what few belongings I have and go out into a world I know nothing about.
It's a nightmare I relive whenever I close my eyes—being back there, isolated, alone, wanting to leave and being forced to leave behind more than one person I loved in order to escape.
Coming Out as a Cult Survivor
The feeling of not belonging or fitting in anywhere.
I don't think it's an uncommon feeling for anyone, but for me it goes a little deeper than that. Half of me is fairly certain I don't even belong on this planet and should just hit my reset button, and the other half wants to live without abandon but can't seem to.
From the day I was born, I was told I am a spiritual being who has lived countless, trillions of years, through billions of lifetimes. My job, stated to me constantly as a child, was to grow my body and learn how to be free from it spiritually.
The rules seemed simple enough and started with basic tenets that made perfect sense, such as, "Do Not Murder," or "Do Not Steal." But as I got older, I learned these were simply a guise to draw people in to what we were really doing—helping humanity have a chance at escaping the alien prison called, "Earth."
Not weird, right?
This is the most common "goal" of most people who call themselves Scientologists, whether they realize it yet or not.
When I was born in the late 1970's in Los Angeles, both of my parents were already members of the so-called Church of Scientology, founded by Science fiction writer, L. Ron Hubbard, and made famous in recent years on Leah Remini's reality TV show, Scientology: The Aftermath.
Not only were they members, my parents were both a part of the elite core that runs the organization from their large base in Los Angeles, the Sea Organization (Sea Org, for short).
Although the stories from my childhood are filled with things that seem strange and horrific to people outside of Scientology, I don't remember feeling that it was ever a trap for me until I was old enough to be sucked into the Sea Org myself.
It was my eleven-year experience in the Sea Org as a young adult, and my eventual exhausting attempt to escape, that continues to leave me—in my forties now—feeling depressed, scared, isolated, and alone in a world positively chock-full of people trying to socialize.
It's hard to talk about because every single person I've ever known growing up, including all of my immediate family, parents and brothers, are all still actively pursuing Scientology, and people who leave are considered enemies and are not to be associated with.
I'm up at 3 AM now, writing this because I need to get the insanity out of my head.
I need my pain to be heard, felt and understood. But to Scientology and the Sea Org, my speaking out is an attempt to stop the one thing that gives the beings of Earth a chance for survival—which makes me an enemy.
When someone is considered an enemy to Scientology, their family cannot continue to progress through the spiritual levels and teachings of Scientology unless they have fully cut ties with that person.
Because "the disconnection policy" gives them very bad press, the Scientology PR people are careful with how they word it publicly, but as someone who was very involved in ensuring Scientologists were not connected to "enemies of the Church," no amount of denial can convince me it's not a policy they still enforce.
More than half the kids I grew up with in Scientology are unable to communicate with their parents, siblings, or former friends because they chose to speak out negatively about what had happened to them or publicly leave the Church.
Dozens more of my friends are a lot like me, simply living their lives pretending they are not an enemy to Scientology so they can continue to associate with their friends and family, while dealing with the pain and loss of everyone and everything they knew growing up.
But the more I live like this, the less I honestly want to exist, because Scientology does NOT EVER GIVE UP.
While a Scientologist will say no one is enforcing these disconnections, they are told by Sea Org Ethics Officers (the enforcers of Scientology ethics and justice) that they cannot progress through their Church services while connected to people "upset by Scientology" because it will affect their progress.
This idea that they must complete their Scientology journey in order to free themselves spiritually from the traps of the planet is held over their heads through copious amounts of brainwashing techniques, and eventually makes them feel they are making the decision to disconnect on their own volition and for "the greater good."
I know this both because I was an enforcer myself, having facilitated and encouraged numerous family disconnections (including being witness years ago to the deprogramming of young Bella and Connor cruise towards their "evil" mother, Nicole), and because last week my mother advised that they are not letting her onto her higher levels unless I go through the proper steps to no longer be an "enemy to Scientology"—their words.
I'm not even fully ex-communicated, I'm simply someone who is "not in good standing" because I advised my mother I don't want to be in Scientology anymore and to stop trying to change that.
But I've also spent the last ten years relatively "in hiding," both from Scientology and people in general, trying not to let my evil juices contaminate my friends, and at this point it's not even worth living if I am not free to be myself.
I am done with this half-existence and really just want to find some solace in people who understand the pain and nightmares of having been trapped in that judgemental, brainwashed world.
I keep searching for stories from others, and there are a few, but most seem still too scared to speak out or are simply content living a lie with their families.
My experience was a bit more extensive and perhaps traumatizing than most, and it's not something my mind is letting me escape so easily.
Ten years of attempting therapy, medication, and staying silent has led to a PTSD that no one can understand or help me with and the only thing that seems like it might actually help is talking about it with someone OTHER than a Scientologist.
Although I'm not putting a name to this, I know they will find out I wrote it and my choice will be to take it down or be "excommunicated." But I haven't been able to speak honestly to my friends and family for years, and it really isn't worth keeping it all bottled up inside.
If the entire premise of Scientology is to free a person and make them able to think for themselves (which is what they propose), then I guess they've finally accomplished something with me, because I'm thinking for myself.
And here is my thought after decades of experience on both sides:
Scientology is not a religion. It is not a particular faith or belief system. It includes those things, but most stolen from other religious writings or science fiction.
Scientologists can live amazing and happy lives with the help of Scientology up to a certain point, but there is no escaping some pretty messed up stuff once you are bound by their rules except to step away and say, "HELL NO."
And even then, good luck.