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Saturday, 22 December 2012
My Childhood in the Org - Hillflag PDF Print E-mail
I guess on some level I need to come to terms with my experiences in the church and how it has affected my life both directly and indirectly even today some 25 years after my parents left the church for good.

Let me preface this by saying that the reason I decided to write is due to something written by lulu-belle in the tragic story of Serge Obilinky on OCMB She wrote something to the effect that just as in the "wog world" there are good and bad parents in the Org. And accordingly, just as in the "real world", the health and sanity of those kids is shaped first by their parents then by the org....I am paraphrasing so I apologize if I have taken liberty, but I think this was the overall gist.
 
 
In any event, I certainly concur with lulu 100% as having myself grown up in the Org, I can attest to the fact that among my peers/friends there were all types parenting styles ranging from non-exsistant parenting to actually what you would consider strict and overbearing parenting. As you would guess, in my estimation, the kids who were left to fend for themselves tended to be more "out ethics" than those whose parents were always there for their kids....at least in the context of the church. Granted, family time was limited, but again I would stress that quality parental time is vastly under rated. However, I do not want to minimize the fact that the Church can make it a struggle for a parent to actually be a good parent as is defined in the outside world.

I consider myself very lucky to have had parents that I did although sometimes I have to admit that I am furious about what they put me through. Now that I have kids of my own I find it hard to imagine that anyone would allow children to go through what many of us experienced there. Many of you joined the Church as adults and while I sympathize with your plights and experiences, you will never fully understand the ramifications of church being your first or only reality.

Here are my experiences:

I must preface this by stating that neither of my parents is particularly mad at the church and do not have an axe to grind per se. To be honest, they don't really care about it that much anymore and when I encourage them to re-live some of our experiences by reading the various historical synopsis, particularly those written by Jon Atack and Peter Green they really just don't have that much interest. They say that because they were there at the time they don't really need to read an account. It's funny, sometimes I will ask if something happend in the way that it is reported and they will tell we which part of a story is correct or not correct etc. Because I don't want to reveal their identity I will be careful not to share some details of my story as this is my story and should not reflect upon either of them.

Also, you must understand this is a kids perspective so if I misuse terms or get some events wrong please be understanding. I am more than willing to be corrected.

My parents were both college graduates who became involved with the Church back in the early seventies in DC. They loved the stated mission of the Church and quickly dedicated themselves to "saving" the planet to help the world become a better place, which seemed an honorable mission to say the least....I guess this wasn't that unusual during the post-hippie era.

In the beginning things were fairly normal. We lived in our own house and actually did so the whole time we were in DC. I guess at some point my parents began working nights and I would spend my evenings being watched at a kind of night-care "nursery" where about 5 or 6 other Scn kids would go to sleep while the waited for their parents to pick them up and take them home. This became the norm and I would get dropped off after dinner and picked up I guess around 10 or 11.

At the time, my parents were in the GO and I spent a lot of time up on the top floor to the DC Org. It was not a bad place for kids, as the whole Org was sort of kid freindly and children were not kept away from their parents, as I would later find out was the case at Saint Hill manor. For the most part it was a pretty happy place...at least for a five year old. I loved all of the people that worked with my parents, of course in hind sight the names of Hugh W, Patsy and Mike Meisner and Rick and Carla Moxon, carry a more significant meaning to some, but they were our best friends at the time and all of them were really great to me.

I was in a "normal" wog school at the time. Granted, I had yet to learn the meaning of the word "wog" or even have a context for it....I was just too young and didn't see my life as being any different than those around me. Sure, I knew about contact assists and touch assists by this point. When you are indoctrinated to techniques such as these as a child they can become very routine and you just assume that they work because your parents taught it to you. Additionally, the basics of the overt-motivator sequence had become a topic of discussion by now and made perfect sense....I guess it still does to some extent, but I am not sure that the theory is exclusive to Scn, it sure seems pretty obvious, but a good one nonetheless.

Things changed in 1977 when one of my parents was offered to chance to go to Saint Hill, to work in GO WW, so off we went. I guess this is where things began to change or at least my awareness that we were different than the everyday people around us.

I think that I first knew things were becoming secretive when I was told that in order to get into England I was going to have to remember a "half truth" about why myself and my parents were there. England did not allow Scientologists into the country. Actually, I became quite good at this and could usually breeze through customs, on my annual trip back home (to DC) most times I would be traveling alone as my parents could not afford to come back, at least not without help.

Our fist house in England was, of course, not our house and I was thrown into my first experience with "housemates". There were probably about 8-10 people living in the house and while it was an adjustment I was too young to view it as strange or abnormal. I just remember that I wasn't allowed to bring other kids over as there were no parents at my home during the day after school, nor was I allowed to tell anyone in school what my parents did...where they were employed etc. I was the cliche latch-key kid. There were some other kids in the house, so I wasn't lonely but it was tough being 7 and in a new country pulled away from my extended family and my Dad....(my natural father).

On the good side my parents were always very attentive when they were home and we did everything together: shopping, laundry etc. We would do fun things on the weekends like go to castles or take day trips and such. They even made gardening day fun -(Garndening day was every other Sunday all of the Org staff would be put to work on the Estate). I never for a moment felt like an orphan. We would also have talks about my upset and sadness at leaving the US...they were understanding and would always help me thought it. I think that they said that if I really wanted to go back they would send me home. I always opted to stay....I am not sure in hindsight if they meant with or without them. I guess I should ask someday, hmmm.

In any event, they became busier and busier working through the late seventies and early eighties with the Snow White trials and such....They were appartanly in the thick of it and I later learned that one of my parents was on the witness list for the trial. Of course at the time I just thought they were on mission; MISSION, a funny word for a 10 year old to know, but as you all are aware they were an all too common occurrence in the Scn family vocabulary. It really sucked having one of your parents gone for months at a time, but again in my world it was quite normal. After all, most all of my friends parents went on mission too, at least my Scn friends' parents did.

During the 5 years that I was in England I went to three different schools. I was fortunate that I had Scn friends in each one. We truly depended on each other and became family as we lived an existence that nobody but a Scientology kid truly knows, or will ever be able to understand. We were forced lived a double life at a very young age....and we all became very good at it, we had to. It's funny, but also a little sad, how a Scn kid had to master two languages, two realities, two circles of friends and somehow manage to keep it together. I don't ever remember anyone telling me specifically what to say or not to say to people who were not in the Church, we just learned and adapted in stride. I guess an analogy would be if you grew up in a bi-lingual family and just instinctively knew which language to speak to whom without really thinking about it. For some reason you just didn't talk about MU's and Engrams to Wog kids. I guess when you are 9 or 10 you really just don't want to be different from the kids around you at shcool by using terms that only a Scientologist would understand.

School became difficult for a number of reasons. First, all of us (Scn Kids) were mostly American and therefore pretty identifiable.
We were all very poor, noticeably poor, and most of us had been clothed at jumble (garage) sales and had a hard time keeping straight our mandated school uniform. We definitely stuck out and were made to feel it. Most of our teachers knew we were in Scientologists and some had a problem with it...you could just tell. After all, what are the chances that an American kid would be enrolled in a East Grinstead public school if they were not in the Church?

By this time, myself and all my Scn friends had experienced the same reality of constantly moving and living with numerous random people in either, our own or in anothers home as a renter. We all had plenty of "students" that would stay with us for random periods of time and comings and goings were consistantly frequent.

During this time in England there was also a pervasive group among "Wog" kids that to my knowledge was unknown to most Scn adults and it was called the ASL, or the Anti-Scientology League. The ASL was kind of gang that would overtly and consistanlty harass Scientology kids. They would berate us, call us names and ultimately fight us. Because I was fairly young, I would just get the name calling, but some of my dear friends would have to fight on a regular basis.

This is probably about when the "us" versus "them" mentality began that pervades and is inevitable to being a Scientologist....at least for me and the term "Wog" began to take on the negative and disparaging connotation, which was seemingly intended by the slur. When we would confront SCN adults about the probelems we were having with the ASL, not surprisingly they would turn it around on us and ask those famous Scientology words: "What did you do to pull that in" or "What did you do first"? I cannot tell you how much I despised that meaningless question and it was often the reason that we did not bring things up to the adults. Although, now I wish I could go back in time and say " I am getting beaten up for no goddamn reason whatsoever except for the fact that YOU are a Sceintologist" and you know what, don' t freaking tell me to use my TR 3 or 4 - IT DOESN'T WORK when someone is on top of you beating the crap out of you. You gotta be kidding me with some of that garbage!

Being a kid in SCN is really a double edeged sword. On one hand SCN can be very empowering as I think they treat kids more like adults than they are treated in the real world, but the bad thing is that they really treat you like an adult! Try doing lower conditions when you are 9 without going past an MU...it becomes a dictionary wild goose chase, looking up words from one definition to try and understand another. Then you have to make a clay model of some abstract concept or idea for which you barely understand in order to prove that you understand it...are you serious? When I see a 9 year old today and see how tiny they are and how basic thier knowledge is I cannot believe that I was expected to take such "responsibility" for my actions at such a young age. What happened to just being a kid?

All of this responsibility sure does lead one to grow up fast and I guess since my parents worked a lot this was a good thing and I learned to be almost self-sufficient. Of course, I had to pull my weight in the "group household" so as to not be "out exchange" and I would routinely do all of the dishes for the entire house, mow the lawn and perform other sundry tasks. In fact, I held a great job at the canteen in Saint Hill, selling Goldfingers and Crisps until it was decided that you had to be at least 12 to work there. (Hey, if any of you were there during that time, I may have served you! ) Lucky for me, I landed a job at the East Grinstead market selling Sweatshirts on the weekends and ran the stand by myself....I'm not sure I ever made enough to break even after taking the bus home, or buying a soda for lunch. Oh well.

During my time in England 77-81 I counted that we lived in 7 different places, which was common for most of us back then. In the worst case, I only had to share a room with one other kid. My parents always tried to make sure that I did not live in a dorm situation and my step-father moonlighted during almost all of his free time so that we could afford the extra space. I really appreciated that because he was so tired and couldn't have looked forward to manual labor on his one off day, but in hindsight he did it for us. Thanks.

About 1981 everything with the GO was hitting the fan and we moved to Flag. Some of the things that were going on I was not even aware of until recently when reading about the CMO vs GO battles and all of the various sub-plots involved. I remember one of my parents going on mission to LA right before we moved to flag. I later learned the reason for the mission was to help handle the situation with Jane, MSH, David G etc...and they since have told me stories about the infamous running tree, so I guess they were in it pretty thick. I was fortunate to get first hand accounts of many of the meetings that took place during the time when the GO was "re-restructured" It's actually quite funny as I will run by some of the accounts and ask "did this happen" and they will say yes, but this was also going on, or no it did not happen that way etc. My point here is that I was a kid of parents who at the time were near the top of the Org and fully entrenched in what was going on. Nevertheless, still managed to keep me sane and on an even keel, at least as much as I could be.

I moved to Flag in the Summer of 81 and I had become a tried and tested SCN kid by this point. Remember that I had been involved with the Church from my earliest memories, so SCN norms, values and operating procedures were my only reality. By this point, I could not imagine leaving the Church and apart from being a professional football player I assumed the Church would be my future as well. After all, I was now going to the flag Cadet Academy, a 100% SCN school and the Church was becoming more and more entrenched in the life as the Wog world was becomimg a distant memory. Eventhough my parents were not in the Sea Org, I was swimming in the SCN SO culture at Flag as I was lnow living in the Sandcastle with 4 or 5 other kids in the same room (and the occasional ever present student) My parents were working longer and longer hours and, of course, we weren't having private family meals anymore as we had always done in the past. Instead, we were now eating with a couple thousand of our closest friends at the FH mess hall.

So a typical day for me kind of went like this...took the Estates bus to the Flag Cadet Academy in the morning with all of the kids who lived at the Sandcastle. Went to "school" drank some Cal-Mag (just kidding but I am just remembering the Cal-Mag as I write) did some course work and then took the same bus back to Clearwater and then went to my Comm.-runner job at CCCW before meeting my parents for dinner at the FH. Not bad for and eleven year old. Oh yea, smoking was a must....every kid smoked. We must have looked like real idiots walking through Clearwater puffing away in our pre-teen years. What a sight. Anyway, after dinner we would walk back to my parents room at the Sandcastle and spend about an hour together before they would go back to work.

After they left anything was game. Total freedom...there were no bedchecks and we knew that they woldn't be home until midnight at the earliest. Of course some kids went further than others, but we would do stuff like ride on top of the elevator cars in the FH. We also used to climb into the laundry chute and ride it 8-10 floors down until it dumped out into a laundry basket in the basement. We would actually hang off the roof of the FH holding on by nothing but our forearms.

We even had a really secret fort at the FH and to this day I'm not sure anyone knows about. If you go into the lobby there used to be center stairs right at the entrance...well if you veered to the right there were a set of staris that went down that I think deadended into a cigarette machine. Anyway, if you made a left you wold eventually go through a door that lead to some of the building mechanical rooms. Immediately after the door on the left we found that you could remove one of the wall panels and it lead to a 7x7 space that had about 4' head clearance. You can imagine what went on in there!

At this point in time kids were really not allowed to be around their parents at work. I don't even think we were allowed in the CB, or that other building near the Sandcastle (EB?)...can't remember what it was called. Things were really strained both with the Org and with my family. We spent less time together and they were so tired that even the time we did spend was not what you would call quality time. With less and less supervision I was becoming more and more "independent" as any kid would. I don't even think I knew anyone who was a "Wog" at this stage in life. In fact, I remember that it would almost be considered out ethics to hang out with "Wogs". Now I don't know whether that was my peer group or acutal policy, but that's the way it was.

I remember one girl whose SCN parents took her out of the Cadet Academy and put her in Public school. Well, we "ostracized" her for the move because it was rumor that she actually wanted to go to "Wog" school. Imagine that, we had become unknowingly become the AWL (Anti-Wog League).

Funny enough, through all of this my parents would not let me work for the church directly, which was kind of strange as most of my friends were now in the Cadet Org. They said I was too young and that I could make that decision when I was older. I thought this was kind of strange considering I could not see any other future for myself and my parents didn't seem to be going anywhere else. Leaving the Church was not even a faint whisper in my reality.

I signed my SO contract when I was 11...actually one of my 14 year old friends recruited me- big surprise. My parents were absolutely furious. They went right to my friend and made them tear it up, which was kind of scandalous thing to do at the time.

As I would later find out things in the Org during this time were getting stranger or for lack of a better term "different". Within the Org accusations were flying from every corner and people were being railroaded left and right. Recently, one of my parents told me what really happened during those two famous mission holder meetings at Flag, to which, of course I knew nothing about at the time. I just knew that things were really strange at the time and a lot of people were leaving or getting declared etc.

In the midst of this, my parents were approached numerous times about going on seperate missions at the same time which they refused on the grounds that they would not leave me alone in the care of the Org. Again, understand that this used to happen all of the time and I knew many kids whoe were "parentless for very long stretches. In hindsight I thank them for sticking to thier guns and not going along with the orders.

I think on some level my parents knew that the church had made a fundamental change in its goal or at least in the way it operated and they had to make a decision to stay or to go. Around this same time one of my parents was asked to be ED Int which was apparently a big post at the time. They declined after seeing what was going on and knowing were some/most of the policy was coming from during that time...and the state of the old man. Things were spinning out of control and they tell me that reality and truth were a mere formality at the time and the real prize was the power and control of the accounts, not the mission, and certainly not the ethics.

We left in the summer 1982. We were fortunate that there were no declares or RPF or any other issues. I think because one of my parents knew many details and had control of the money, accounts etc...they just wanted them out in order to avoid a larger fight, but that is just my conjucture. I do know that they were contacted for a few years after they left just to make sure they were totally out.

It took me a long time to adjust once I was an ex-SCN. I really missed my friends that were still in, as I said before many of them were like family. We had been together since Saint Hill back in the seventies and I sorely missed them. They are/were the only ones who could fully understand my reality, even today. Once you leave it is hard to have a relationship with anyone still in and I am not even sure that we would know how to communicate anymore, although I still love them, think of them often and always will to the day I die. I owe them for being there for me in way that parents can't be there for you. Thank you.

Leaving the church when you are 12 is a pretty tough thing to do. Try getting adjusted to "Wog" life when you nothing but the church. I think that it was easier for my parents who had lived in the "real world" first, so they at least had some experience. I, on the other hand, did not have much experience at all and it was a struggle as I'm sure it is for most kids who leave the confines of the Org.

I was fortunate that I had a least some experience going to Public schools and interacting in the real world... I don't know how someone born into the SO can make this adjustment. It was hard enough for me and I had good parents.

The Church had made me fiercely independent individual as much of the tech along with the organiztional culture almost required that I be totally self-sufficient and 100% accountable. I was babysitting infants at 9-10 years old. I was doing group dishes by 10 and I had been putting myself to sleep at night by the time I was 8. And I certainly found out that the "wog" world does not particulary like 13 year olds who act like they are 21! Thankfully for me, nothing too serious developed and after some bumps in the road I made it through pretty well. I imagine that if my parents had left the church only a few years later I may have wanted stay and may have tried to disconnect from them. While I can't imagine this today, I can understand how it happens and also see how easy it is to get to that point. I think my parents knew this too.

While my experience is not nearly as traumatic as many others, I hope it sheds light on someone who grew up in the Org and the unique perspecitve that goes along with it. While my life experiences were certainly "different" than others around me today I have honestly not decided if I would trade my SCN experience or not. Granted, I have the benefit of 25 years behind me and have had ample time to resolve my own issues and have learned how to operate and function in the outside world. For me, any biterness has more or less disolved and I am now free to look at both the positives and the negatives of my experiences.

I would say however that I was extremely lucky and I thank my parents for having the courage to get out when they did. I know that it could not have been easy for them, as I'm sure many of you can attest. I am pretty sure that I don't hold it against them..at least I don't most of the time . When they were on staff they were even younger then I am now and I certainly have made my share of mistakes. Youth will do that to you.

I cannot speak to they way families and children in the Org live today; however, I can say with some authority that, in my opinion, it is NOT appropriate for children to be brought up the way I was. Poverty and isolation are not the way to view the way the real world operates and certainly does not allow one to critically evaluate their own situation allows no context for the plight of, or betterment of the population in general.

I was a part of the Org during a time when most of those on post had lived a life outside of the Church; however, now I'm sure that most of those that are in charge know nothing but the Church and have no other experiences other than those they have had in the Org. That, to me, is extremely unfortunate and in some ways dangerous as it leads to a very uninformed, isolated, self-important existence with little chance to view human kind other than through a SCN prism.

I'm sorry that this turned out so long. I guess that's what 25 years of holding it in will do to you. Funny, but I could probably go on forever. All of us share a common bond and I wish you all the best and hope that your life becomes as fulfilled as mine is today. And most of all I thank my parents for getting us all out before it was too late.

Cheers.
 

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