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Saturday, 22 December 2012
Kendra's Scientology Story PDF Print E-mail
Personal Stories - Born into Scientology

So I ran away from home the next morning. Just packed it up and ran. I showed up to work as usual, left a nasty note in everyone's inbox, pretended to go get coffee and newspapers, and ran.

It took the private investigator and the police all of 3 days to find me, but when I got home, for the first time in my life, my parents earnestly, honestly and in good faith asked me, "What do you want?"

"I want to go to college," I told them. "I want to be a normal human being. I never want to do conditions again. I don’t want to be sec checked, I don't want to go into an org, I want the freedom to choose how I dress, who I associate with, and to choose my own religion."

On the provision that I would never run away again, they consented.

With the exception of the day I fell in love with my fiance, the day I left Scientology was and remains the happiest day of my life. I can't tell you what it felt like to walk down to the local coffee shop, weight after weight being lifted from my shoulders as I mentally went down the list of things I'd never experience again. No more TRs. No more being recruited for the Sea Org. No more being told I was criminal or "downtone" for disagreeing. No more conditions. No more course. No more auditing. No more e-meters. No more abusive work hours. No more rhetoric. No more events. No more reg cycles. No more knowledge reports – just a world where one's ethics is subject to one's conscience and nothing else. I was elated.

Skip ahead five years. During that time in LA, I'd gone to school, worked, and looked very desperately for any ideology that would fill the "saving the universe" hole in my heart. I tried to get obsessed with Kabbalah, Communism, Buddhist meditation, egalitarianism, rock bands, pilates, dieting, and Anarchism. I worked with Food Not Bombs. I went to political protests. I worked my day job. Everything I tried helped briefly, but nothing much lasted.

Eventually, thanks to my dad's suggestion, my mom's support and my own desire to do something interesting with my life, I moved to China. I spent several years jumping from Asian city to Asian city, and finally settled in Beijing studying the Mandarin language.

If you followed my old post on OCMB, you'll remember how the situation with my disconnect began. For those who never read it, I'm copy-pasting here for you now:

"After a peaceful childhood but very turbulent adolscence in and escape from Scientology (I 'blew' an org) am currently in college abroad, and my mom just came to visit me a few days ago. As I was working for a couple days and didn't want her to be bored, I asked if one of my local friends could please show her around. My friend agreed. I found out the next day that my mom had been explaining some Scn principles to my friend, in a country where religion is banned and persecuted, in a completely inappropriate context. Of course, I was angry. I was pissed that my mom, previously a Power FSM, cannot go two seconds without trying to recruit someone and somehow the word "brainwashing" slipped out. Oops.

"This led to a discussion about my feelings on Scientology, and we argued for days. When she accused me of picking all of my disagreements up from the internet and not from source materials, I told her about the time that I had gone through considerable trouble to break into someone's confidential briefcase and read a bunch of Body Thetan crap straight from the horse's mouth.

"She was shocked that I'd done that, though I'm glad that I did. After that, my mind is at rest that the upper levels aren't anything but BS, and I'm living a happy and productive life out of the church. She, and now the Co$, is also freaking out because I refuse to disclose whose materials I looked at all those years ago.

"Of course, despite the fact that I did this years ago and nothing changed except their knowledge of it, despite the fact that they love me, despite years of a good family relationship and working around our differences, now I've spilled the beans and they know. They are going to write a report to CoS about it that very very well might get me declared. They know it might. But they're doing it anyway. Because to be a Scientologist and not write Orwellian reports is impossible.

"So I'm sitting here in this foreign country waiting to find out if they're going to declare me or not. I'm assuming they will, of course, unless I consent to "justice actions", which I absolutely will not, under any circumstances, do. I do not feel I am subject to their so-called justice, but I did say that it if it would keep me around my family, I was willing to speak to a church member on the phone from the country I am in. I said I would tell him exactly what I told them. I will not tell whose materials, and get stuck in the middle of some ridiculous ethics action against someone who doesn't deserve it. I will not spend any more time as I did for most of my adolescence, getting yelled by ranks and tribunals of righteous SO members and being made to feel guilty for being me and for disagreeing.

"My dad asked the church if they could contact me over the phone so that I could talk to them from the country I'm in. Otherwise, I would have to fly back home and go in to the CoS to resolve this. They won't do it on the phone (the only way I could take care of this and still stay at school) because "the government might listen to our phone call." ...Yeah.

"I love my father. I also love my aunt, uncles, cousins, my brother and his family, and my little nephews and neices, all of whom are Scientologists. That's my entire immediate family. All of whom I may never be able to speak to again because I will not submit to psychological terrorism. I can't believe Scientology has once more managed to worm its way into my life after I took so long exorcizing it from my environment.

"I'm completely baffled right now. Both of my parents have said they would go along with the declare if it was issued. At the same time, they both said they know I'm not a suppressive person and that they love me. What? I guess "baffled" is the wrong word. I - excuse the language - should fucking have suspected as much. Funny how brainwashing can allow two completely opposing and irrational concepts to manifest in the same person."

And then I very suddenly, and very abruptly, disappeared from the boards. Several people voiced concern wanting to know what had happened to me, whether OSA had gotten to me, and if I was still speaking to my family members. I did not respond to those posts.

Here's what happened: Mom and dad were at FLAG getting advice and counseling on this situation. Very shortly after I made this post, perhaps 5 days to a week, I received a call from my dad informing me that he had seen the messages I had posted to ARS. Long story short, he asked that I stop posting to ARS or having any connection with SPs, as it was not helping the situation. I protested, based on the fact that he was surrounded by people who agreed with his point of view, and I deserved the same. I was not going to let Scientology isolate me, while they gang-banged my brain. I needed backup, and I had every right to it.

Also, there was the question of how exactly he found these posts. My dad can't use a newsgroup, he doesn't know how, and he's not the type to surf entheta sites. Turns out what happened is that someone from OSA or someone in the SO who was monitoring ARS figured out who I was, printed out some of the things I posted (though none, it sounds like, of the positive stuff), and gave them to my parents.

After much negotiation on both sides, my parents ended up flying out here to China. We had a three-day meeting. Much was said. I said some things I regret. I'm sure they regret some of the things they said. I think they were both a little scared to lose me, and a little confused as to why I was insisting on talking to online critics.

We didn't get very far in our negotiations. I was willing to do amends for upsetting them, as long as those amends were done outside the church. I was not willing to go back to LA and talk to anyone from the org. But what it really came down to was this: before we could talk about how to repair our relationship, I had to agree to never speak to anti-scientologists or active critics again. I had to agree not to post negative opinions about Scientology on the internet.

I just couldn't agree to that. And there was nothing more to be said. I went home.

That was the last time I ever saw my parents. They were sitting in their hotel room, and I was leaving. I have since discovered that my parents believe I disconnected from them. I think they feel that I chose "a snake pit of SPs" over my own family, and they have since told people that I was the one who disconnected from them. As ludicrous as that is, I think they honestly believe it.

I wish I could explain this to them: that was not a choice that I should have to make. As much as I love my parents, I fought very hard during my adolescence so that the CoS would not govern my life anymore. I could not and would not agree to give up my right to talk to people who I agree with because the church believes that that is a high crime. I am an adult (oh god, am I a grown-up already?) and it is nobody's place, not even my parents', to ask me not to talk about a situation that I feel was abusive and screwed up. But "no" was not an acceptable answer.

The real bottom line is this: The Church of Scientology has crimes. There is no other reason on Earth, no valid reason whatsoever, to put psychological pressure on people in order to force them to be silent. If the CoS had nothing to hide, or if they had the slightest ounce of compassion for human individuality, this rule would not exist, and the church would have no problem letting critics rant and rave to their heart's content. Everything that L. Ron Hubbard has ever written about criminals and SPs applies to the Church of Scientology. You'd have to be blind, deaf, and dumb not to see it.

In any case, I traded a few final emails with my family before the end, but the end did come. I'm not actually officially declared, though I think this statement will change that. My parents cut me off before the actual declare order went through, so that if I ever wanted to recant, I could write them directly instead of going through the International Justice Chief.

I am, however, on some weird underground church blacklist which isn't supposed to exist, and the CoS continues to pressure people I barely speak with to cut all ties with me, on pain of disconnection from *their* families. Those threats continue to this day.

After the disconnection was over, I was too exhausted and too terrified to return to the message boards. I felt defeated, and I was working to finish school. I had no home in the US anymore, and I wasn't sure where I'd go when I was ready to leave China. And of course, I hoped against hope that if I didn't post anything, that if I kept my head down and said nothing, my family would realize how stupid this all is and write me on my birthday, or on Christmas… I'm getting married in a couple of months – I wish they could be here for that.

I haven't heard anything from them. I write them letters sometimes. I haven't heard from them in so long, writing the letters is like writing in a diary, or talking to myself. I don't know if they've blocked my email or not, but I hope they get them, and I hope they know I’m doing better now than I've ever done.

There is something I want people reading this to know: My parents and family members are not evil people. I know most people who have experienced disconnection will understand this, but as far as the general public is concerned, I would like to state for the record that my family members are not evil. I don't hate them. I don't resent them. I don't want to see them punished, or forced to not be Scientologists, or anything like that. I just want to talk to them again.

It may be hard for people who've never been through this to understand, but my parents and family really, honestly believe they are doing the right thing. They believe they are fighting on the side of Good in that big Universal Struggle, and they think I was preventing them from saving mankind. They think they have chosen between saving mankind, and sticking with one little daughter. They think their daughter has defected to the dark side. I can only imagine how painful it must be for them to think that.

If I could say anything to them now, it would be: A church should strongly discourage disconnection. Any group that puts forth disconnection as an option (no matter how much of a 'last resort' it is) between family members, or takes ethics action on people for refusing to disconnect from their own family members, is a group that does not deserve your support.

Other than that? I would tell them I love them. I would tell them I wish they'd given me a chance to show that I've grown up, that I'm doing well on my own, and that I’m happy.

I would tell them that it *is* possible to maintain family relationships no matter how much two people disagree, or how vocally that disagreement is expressed.

I would tell my dad that I still think he's an honorable man. I would tell my mom that I'm really sorry we didn't have the best relationship when I was growing up, but that I wish we had the chance to start over now, because I think we could make it work. I'd tell my dad I want to see a movie with him, and rant about politics with him, and go to dinner at Mo's with him. I'd tell my mom I want to cook with her, and trade girl gossip with her, and go to Descanso Gardens with her. I'd tell my uncle that he's still the best at the Dictionary Game, he looks awesome in a poet shirt, and if he took me to the Cultural Festival again, I'd stand up and clap with him this time. And I'd tell my aunt Virginia that she's awesome, she's always been awesome, and I wanted her to walk me down the isle at my wedding.

I'll probably never get the chance to tell them these things, and they will think these words are empty because I'm simultaneously saying them and attacking Scientology. But I want everyone who reads this to know that it is totally possible to simultaneously protest CoS management and love my family.

And that, in all of its lengthy-ness, is my story.

So I ran away from home the next morning. Just packed it up and ran. I showed up to work as usual, left a nasty note in everyone's inbox, pretended to go get coffee and newspapers, and ran.

It took the private investigator and the police all of 3 days to find me, but when I got home, for the first time in my life, my parents earnestly, honestly and in good faith asked me, "What do you want?"

"I want to go to college," I told them. "I want to be a normal human being. I never want to do conditions again. I don’t want to be sec checked, I don't want to go into an org, I want the freedom to choose how I dress, who I associate with, and to choose my own religion."

On the provision that I would never run away again, they consented.

With the exception of the day I fell in love with my fiance, the day I left Scientology was and remains the happiest day of my life. I can't tell you what it felt like to walk down to the local coffee shop, weight after weight being lifted from my shoulders as I mentally went down the list of things I'd never experience again. No more TRs. No more being recruited for the Sea Org. No more being told I was criminal or "downtone" for disagreeing. No more conditions. No more course. No more auditing. No more e-meters. No more abusive work hours. No more rhetoric. No more events. No more reg cycles. No more knowledge reports – just a world where one's ethics is subject to one's conscience and nothing else. I was elated.

Skip ahead five years. During that time in LA, I'd gone to school, worked, and looked very desperately for any ideology that would fill the "saving the universe" hole in my heart. I tried to get obsessed with Kabbalah, Communism, Buddhist meditation, egalitarianism, rock bands, pilates, dieting, and Anarchism. I worked with Food Not Bombs. I went to political protests. I worked my day job. Everything I tried helped briefly, but nothing much lasted.

Eventually, thanks to my dad's suggestion, my mom's support and my own desire to do something interesting with my life, I moved to China. I spent several years jumping from Asian city to Asian city, and finally settled in Beijing studying the Mandarin language.

If you followed my old post on OCMB, you'll remember how the situation with my disconnect began. For those who never read it, I'm copy-pasting here for you now:

"After a peaceful childhood but very turbulent adolscence in and escape from Scientology (I 'blew' an org) am currently in college abroad, and my mom just came to visit me a few days ago. As I was working for a couple days and didn't want her to be bored, I asked if one of my local friends could please show her around. My friend agreed. I found out the next day that my mom had been explaining some Scn principles to my friend, in a country where religion is banned and persecuted, in a completely inappropriate context. Of course, I was angry. I was pissed that my mom, previously a Power FSM, cannot go two seconds without trying to recruit someone and somehow the word "brainwashing" slipped out. Oops.

"This led to a discussion about my feelings on Scientology, and we argued for days. When she accused me of picking all of my disagreements up from the internet and not from source materials, I told her about the time that I had gone through considerable trouble to break into someone's confidential briefcase and read a bunch of Body Thetan crap straight from the horse's mouth.

"She was shocked that I'd done that, though I'm glad that I did. After that, my mind is at rest that the upper levels aren't anything but BS, and I'm living a happy and productive life out of the church. She, and now the Co$, is also freaking out because I refuse to disclose whose materials I looked at all those years ago.

"Of course, despite the fact that I did this years ago and nothing changed except their knowledge of it, despite the fact that they love me, despite years of a good family relationship and working around our differences, now I've spilled the beans and they know. They are going to write a report to CoS about it that very very well might get me declared. They know it might. But they're doing it anyway. Because to be a Scientologist and not write Orwellian reports is impossible.

"So I'm sitting here in this foreign country waiting to find out if they're going to declare me or not. I'm assuming they will, of course, unless I consent to "justice actions", which I absolutely will not, under any circumstances, do. I do not feel I am subject to their so-called justice, but I did say that it if it would keep me around my family, I was willing to speak to a church member on the phone from the country I am in. I said I would tell him exactly what I told them. I will not tell whose materials, and get stuck in the middle of some ridiculous ethics action against someone who doesn't deserve it. I will not spend any more time as I did for most of my adolescence, getting yelled by ranks and tribunals of righteous SO members and being made to feel guilty for being me and for disagreeing.

"My dad asked the church if they could contact me over the phone so that I could talk to them from the country I'm in. Otherwise, I would have to fly back home and go in to the CoS to resolve this. They won't do it on the phone (the only way I could take care of this and still stay at school) because "the government might listen to our phone call." ...Yeah.

"I love my father. I also love my aunt, uncles, cousins, my brother and his family, and my little nephews and neices, all of whom are Scientologists. That's my entire immediate family. All of whom I may never be able to speak to again because I will not submit to psychological terrorism. I can't believe Scientology has once more managed to worm its way into my life after I took so long exorcizing it from my environment.

"I'm completely baffled right now. Both of my parents have said they would go along with the declare if it was issued. At the same time, they both said they know I'm not a suppressive person and that they love me. What? I guess "baffled" is the wrong word. I - excuse the language - should fucking have suspected as much. Funny how brainwashing can allow two completely opposing and irrational concepts to manifest in the same person."

And then I very suddenly, and very abruptly, disappeared from the boards. Several people voiced concern wanting to know what had happened to me, whether OSA had gotten to me, and if I was still speaking to my family members. I did not respond to those posts.

Here's what happened: Mom and dad were at FLAG getting advice and counseling on this situation. Very shortly after I made this post, perhaps 5 days to a week, I received a call from my dad informing me that he had seen the messages I had posted to ARS. Long story short, he asked that I stop posting to ARS or having any connection with SPs, as it was not helping the situation. I protested, based on the fact that he was surrounded by people who agreed with his point of view, and I deserved the same. I was not going to let Scientology isolate me, while they gang-banged my brain. I needed backup, and I had every right to it.

Also, there was the question of how exactly he found these posts. My dad can't use a newsgroup, he doesn't know how, and he's not the type to surf entheta sites. Turns out what happened is that someone from OSA or someone in the SO who was monitoring ARS figured out who I was, printed out some of the things I posted (though none, it sounds like, of the positive stuff), and gave them to my parents.

After much negotiation on both sides, my parents ended up flying out here to China. We had a three-day meeting. Much was said. I said some things I regret. I'm sure they regret some of the things they said. I think they were both a little scared to lose me, and a little confused as to why I was insisting on talking to online critics.

We didn't get very far in our negotiations. I was willing to do amends for upsetting them, as long as those amends were done outside the church. I was not willing to go back to LA and talk to anyone from the org. But what it really came down to was this: before we could talk about how to repair our relationship, I had to agree to never speak to anti-scientologists or active critics again. I had to agree not to post negative opinions about Scientology on the internet.

I just couldn't agree to that. And there was nothing more to be said. I went home.

That was the last time I ever saw my parents. They were sitting in their hotel room, and I was leaving. I have since discovered that my parents believe I disconnected from them. I think they feel that I chose "a snake pit of SPs" over my own family, and they have since told people that I was the one who disconnected from them. As ludicrous as that is, I think they honestly believe it.

I wish I could explain this to them: that was not a choice that I should have to make. As much as I love my parents, I fought very hard during my adolescence so that the CoS would not govern my life anymore. I could not and would not agree to give up my right to talk to people who I agree with because the church believes that that is a high crime. I am an adult (oh god, am I a grown-up already?) and it is nobody's place, not even my parents', to ask me not to talk about a situation that I feel was abusive and screwed up. But "no" was not an acceptable answer.

The real bottom line is this: The Church of Scientology has crimes. There is no other reason on Earth, no valid reason whatsoever, to put psychological pressure on people in order to force them to be silent. If the CoS had nothing to hide, or if they had the slightest ounce of compassion for human individuality, this rule would not exist, and the church would have no problem letting critics rant and rave to their heart's content. Everything that L. Ron Hubbard has ever written about criminals and SPs applies to the Church of Scientology. You'd have to be blind, deaf, and dumb not to see it.

In any case, I traded a few final emails with my family before the end, but the end did come. I'm not actually officially declared, though I think this statement will change that. My parents cut me off before the actual declare order went through, so that if I ever wanted to recant, I could write them directly instead of going through the International Justice Chief.

I am, however, on some weird underground church blacklist which isn't supposed to exist, and the CoS continues to pressure people I barely speak with to cut all ties with me, on pain of disconnection from *their* families. Those threats continue to this day.

After the disconnection was over, I was too exhausted and too terrified to return to the message boards. I felt defeated, and I was working to finish school. I had no home in the US anymore, and I wasn't sure where I'd go when I was ready to leave China. And of course, I hoped against hope that if I didn't post anything, that if I kept my head down and said nothing, my family would realize how stupid this all is and write me on my birthday, or on Christmas… I'm getting married in a couple of months – I wish they could be here for that.

I haven't heard anything from them. I write them letters sometimes. I haven't heard from them in so long, writing the letters is like writing in a diary, or talking to myself. I don't know if they've blocked my email or not, but I hope they get them, and I hope they know I’m doing better now than I've ever done.

There is something I want people reading this to know: My parents and family members are not evil people. I know most people who have experienced disconnection will understand this, but as far as the general public is concerned, I would like to state for the record that my family members are not evil. I don't hate them. I don't resent them. I don't want to see them punished, or forced to not be Scientologists, or anything like that. I just want to talk to them again.

It may be hard for people who've never been through this to understand, but my parents and family really, honestly believe they are doing the right thing. They believe they are fighting on the side of Good in that big Universal Struggle, and they think I was preventing them from saving mankind. They think they have chosen between saving mankind, and sticking with one little daughter. They think their daughter has defected to the dark side. I can only imagine how painful it must be for them to think that.

If I could say anything to them now, it would be: A church should strongly discourage disconnection. Any group that puts forth disconnection as an option (no matter how much of a 'last resort' it is) between family members, or takes ethics action on people for refusing to disconnect from their own family members, is a group that does not deserve your support.

Other than that? I would tell them I love them. I would tell them I wish they'd given me a chance to show that I've grown up, that I'm doing well on my own, and that I’m happy.

I would tell them that it *is* possible to maintain family relationships no matter how much two people disagree, or how vocally that disagreement is expressed.

I would tell my dad that I still think he's an honorable man. I would tell my mom that I'm really sorry we didn't have the best relationship when I was growing up, but that I wish we had the chance to start over now, because I think we could make it work. I'd tell my dad I want to see a movie with him, and rant about politics with him, and go to dinner at Mo's with him. I'd tell my mom I want to cook with her, and trade girl gossip with her, and go to Descanso Gardens with her. I'd tell my uncle that he's still the best at the Dictionary Game, he looks awesome in a poet shirt, and if he took me to the Cultural Festival again, I'd stand up and clap with him this time. And I'd tell my aunt Virginia that she's awesome, she's always been awesome, and I wanted her to walk me down the isle at my wedding.

I'll probably never get the chance to tell them these things, and they will think these words are empty because I'm simultaneously saying them and attacking Scientology. But I want everyone who reads this to know that it is totally possible to simultaneously protest CoS management and love my family.

And that, in all of its lengthy-ness, is my story.

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