Kendra's Scientology Story
Personal Stories - Born into Scientology

My name is Kendra Wiseman. If you were in the habit of reading the Clambake message boards, ARS or the ex-Scientologist message boards around 2005, you may recognize me by the names Emma (not the Emma from Ex-Scn Message Boards), Emma Goldman or SarahNW. I have been quiet about my Scientology experience for a long time, and I'm damn well sick of it. Yesterday was my very last day of silence. Starting today, I'm a vocal critic of Scientology.

Recently, thanks to the actions of Anonymous, a group of internet activists, and the public testimony of Jenna Miscavige Hill, I've decided to speak up. I'd like to personally thank all the members of Anonymous for helping to make us heard, for allowing me to feel safe to speak, and for giving me the inspiration to tell my story. Also thanks to Astra Woodcraft and Jenna Miscavige Hill, who I hope to share a coffee with someday. You're both invited to my wedding.

It is a strong possibility that coming out and speaking like this effectively closes the door on any chance I may have had to speak with my parents again. I will without a doubt be officially declared a Suppressive Person, I may be stalked and harassed, I may be ridiculed, but I'm beyond fear of that now. I do hope my parents know that I still love them, that I'm proud of them, and that someday I'll have the chance to talk with them and get to know them again.

I miss you guys. So here goes…

My father is the President of Citizens Commission on Human Rights US. My uncle is president of Narconon International, and my mother is President of the Earth Organization. With the exception of the Earth Organization, which is a genuine, independent and well-meaning environmental activist group run by Scientologists, these groups are owned and funded by the CoS. You can confirm all of this information on Google if the mood takes you.

As of today, February 8, 2008, I am 24 years old, and I have not heard from or seen any member of my immediate family in 2 ½ years. Despite that, I currently live in China, where I have a wonderful job, a stable home, and a fiance whose butt is totally worth pinching. As I sit here, the Chinese New Years festivities are raging outside, and the skyline is exploding with fireworks. There's vanilla cake and cheddar cheese in the fridge. Life is good.

Life, sadly, was not always so perfectly awesome. It was especially not awesome in July / August of 2005, when my family decided to invoke Scientology's Disconnection policy, and cut all ties with me, leaving me in China with no home, no close relatives, and no safety net to speak of.

I grew up in a prosperous Scientology household, with kind, loving parents who never let me want for anything. My parents are not members of the Sea Organization, and so I was afforded more benefits, privileges and opportunity than those kids who grow up inside the Sea Org. I was a fairly normal, happy kid that went from Scientology star material to Scientology apostate over the course of three years. I've worked for CCHR; I've run away from home; I've been sec-checked ad nauseum; I've been stalked online; I've been emotionally blackmailed; and most egregious of all, I've been made to feel guilty for being me.

I'm going to skip huge chunks of the story for brevity's sake, but this won't be at all short, so bear with me if you dare, and bolt for the nearest chaplain's office if you don't.

As a young child, up until I was around 14 years old, I thought Scientology was the jam. I'm not sure that "thought" is the right word to use there - I assumed it was the jam. I knew this because everyone said so. I'd like to say that as soon as I became old enough to start critically evaluating the morals of Scientology, I discovered that Scientology is a scam, but that just isn't true. Dissent begins on a much smaller scale, those miniscule nagging doubts that are easily explained away. I would attened the 8-times-yearly three-hour Scientology events at the Shrine Auditorium, and while the 3000 people around me seemed glassy-eyed with fervor, I just resented having to stand up and clap wildly every 3 minutes. I wondered vaguely if my mother really had those mind-over-matter powers OTs were all supposed to have, as I'd never seen her use them. I considered the fact that I'd never actually gone exterior to my body, though I had felt lightheaded sometimes, and I wondered if that was the same thing. I thought about the fact that there were high-level Scientologists that treated others in a very negative fashion, and I wondered why someone that high would need to yell and scream to get their way. I thought about these things, but only in passing.

But these things were all I knew, and I was progressing very quickly through Scientology. At the time, I was the youngest person ever allowed on the Freewinds, Scientology's cruise ship, and I had my 7th birthday there. I was among the youngest to complete the KTL/LOC courses, which I finished at age nine. For years, the regs at AOLA smiled at me when I came into the org, because when I was around 7, I had donated my only three dollars in the world to the IAS. The reg thought it was so cute, she wrote took me into the registrar's office and printed me out a reciept.

I first decided I wanted to leave Scientology at the age of 15. Some people called it puberty, I preferred to think of it as righteous indignation. The truth was, I was having a very difficult time completing the Pro Metering Course at Celebrity Center International, and it was destroying my spirit. What should have been a 2-month course finished over summer vacation ended up being an 8-month emotional Beirut. I had whizzed through the course itself, but I simply couldn't seem to pass the final step. I had always been a star Scientology student before, but now course tended to end with me crying in the bathroom while various hapless Sea Org members banged on the door and demanded, cajoled, and threatened until I came out.

I won't get into it too much, but there is nothing more soul-destroying than repeatedly giving something your all, and being told it's not good enough. Scientology helpfully provides us with a concise list of reasons why someone would not be able to pass a drill.

dot.gifThey're committing overts (sinning) in present time, and it's affecting their progress.
dot.gifThey have words in the materials they don't understand.
dot.gifThey haven't practiced enough.

While these three explainations may sound fairly benign and mildly logical on the surface, the effect they have on a human being is actually quite heinous. Let's say you're trying to throw a frisbee that's made of lead. You fling that frisbee as hard as you can, but it falls to the ground a few feet away. You coach urges you to practice more, and you do, but the frisbee won't fly. The coach then tells you that you clearly don't understand how the frisbee works, otherwise you wouldn't have a problem. You study more about frisbees, give it another go to no avail. The coach now assumes that it's obvious you must have damaged the frisbee on purpose. You're a frisbee criminal, and by George, he's going to see you brought to justice, both for your own good and the good of the frisbee. All the while, you're being told that the frisbee itself is flawless. All hail the frisbee.

Horrible analogies aside, it is one of the most basic tenets of Scientology that "The Tech", as they call Hubbard's teachings, works if applied correctly. This is the most fundamental assumption on which a Scientologist is built. The Tech is flawless, it is only we who are flawed. All hail the Tech. With this foundation in place, one can shift the burden of responsibility to anywhere except where it actually belongs. Any disagreements or doubts about the workability of Scientology becomes the fault of the student.

After 8 months of practice, repeated punishment, and endless re-studying, I just about exploded. It had generally been decided amongst the course supervisors that I was either an idiot, a criminal, or a failure. The senior sup barely spoke to me. I'd spent weeks with the ethics officer doing confessionals, I felt unsafe around my peers due to Scientology's heavily enforced policy of reporting on the activities of friends, and if I ever saw another E-meter again for the rest of my life, it would be too soon.

During the day, I was also attending Delphi Academy Los Angeles, a Scientology high school, and because of my general discontent with Scientology, I began reading books about other religions. Scientology had already convinced me that Christianity was an implant made by intergalactic psychiatrists – and everyone knows that anything made by intergalactic psychiatrists shouldn't be touched with a ten-foot pole - so I started with Buddhism, Daoism, Kabbalah, and eventually Wicca. A whole religion for Lord of the Rings fans! I was stoked.

The faculty at Delphi Academy were stoked about my new books, too. By "my new books", of course I mean "sending me to ethics". In fact, they were so into "my new books" that spent a considerable amount of time with "my books" for the next few months. At one point, one of the parents of the other kids heard that I was reading about Wicca, and issued an order that no child on campus was to speak to me or fraternize with me until I'd come to my senses. Delphi Academy, for the record, markets itself as a non-denominational school. (To be fair, both my teacher, Mike B. and the ethics officer at Delphi LA at that time were very very cool about the whole thing.)

Likewise, when Celebrity Center staff discovered that I was sitting around in my room at night staring at a candle, they immediately seized on this as the obvious "withhold" that had been preventing me from passing my drills. I was engaging in "other practices" while on course. Looking back on this now, it seems completely ludicrous that my interest in incense and bad poetry (no insult to real Wiccans – I wasn't a very good one) would have caused me to fail my e-meter drills, but at the time they had me damn near convinced that I'd seriously screwed up by trying something else.

Still, I was confused. I knew I liked my incense a hell of a lot more than I liked that course room. My incense never wrote pink sheets. And besides, hadn't Ron researched other religions? Wouldn't he want us to do the same?

I would have laughed it off with my best friend, but my best friend was taking a long holiday at the lovely Mace Kingsley Ranch school, enjoying a delightful medley of hard labor, Scientology indoctrination sessions, and social isolation. Busy as she was scrubbing fence posts in the snow, she was unavailable for comment.

I would have discussed the issue with my parents, but they'd been gone at FLAG on their six-months-check for, ironically, about six months by then.

Again, there's more to these stories, but those things were my main impetus for leaving. I announced I was no longer a Scientologist. A few days later, my private line began to ring off the hook, with the parents of my friends calling me to tell me I was unwelcome at their homes, unwelcome to spend time with their children, and that I would continue to be unwelcome until I was back in good standing with the church. They told me I was a criminal. They told me I was losing my chance at eternity. They told me I totally had poopy pants.

No one was home that night. I cried for hours, and the phone kept ringing.

At the request of my parents, Sea Org members began to appear at the house. They waited in the living room with my parents until I agreed to speak to them. They clustered in little groups around the coffee table, discussing my case while I made a Point™ by playing Rage Against the Machine at full volume from behind the closed door of my room. They came day after day. My parents, who really did believe that I was losing my one shot at eternity by leaving the church, begged me to talk to them.

Everyone I knew, loved and respected insisted that if I really wanted to leave Scientology, I could. No problem. I just had to get a security check (akin to a confessional, but using the e-meter), and submit to a couple other teensy weensy processes. Since Scientology doctrine states that the only reason you'd ever want to leave is if you'd done something wrong, or had hidden "crimes", the Sea Org members insisted that I do this confessional. As long as it was discovered that I had no crimes against the church, I'd be free to go. I was promised it would take no longer than a month.

So every day, for several hours after school, I'd head down to Celebrity Center, into the basement and past the kitchens where the ethics section is. I sat down with my auditor on the e-meter, and she asked me such probing, intellectually stimulating questions as, "Did you ever blow up a planet?", "Have you ever had any unkind thoughts about L. Ron Hubbard?" and "How many psychedelic unicorns does it take to change a light bulb?"

Eight months later, the security check wasn't finished, and there was no end in sight. It finally dawned on me that the EP, or "end phenomenon" of the security check was that I would say, "I don't want to leave Scientology any more." I told my auditor that I'd figured this out, but that that simply wasn't going to happen. The sec checks miraculously stopped.

At the time, I thought I'd won some great victory in having the sec checks called off. I thought I'd really made it through the ringer and was out the other side, with Scientology well behind me. Which was a rather silly assumption, in retrospect, as I'd already started working for the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR).

See, I wasn't a Scientologist. I knew that much. But my family being what it was, I had been raised on the concept – nay, the Fact – that psychiatry was the ultimate evil in the universe. Scientology itself may have made me uncomfortable for reasons I couldn't quite put my finger on at the time, but a hatred of psychiatry and a fear of psychiatrists was in my blood.

Also, I thought being a super-spy would be pretty rad, and it looked like I had a pretty good shot of getting into the research division, which is where most of the super spying takes place.

In all seriousness, though, I think it's here that we come to the heart of what I believe makes Scientology kids tick. One of the most addictive things about Scientology – and this may or may not go double for those raised in CoS – the constant feeling that you are part of the Universal Struggle. When you are a Scientologist, you are frequently told that you are fighting for the side Light in some vaguely-defined galactic battle for the future. Your fight is bigger than Earth, bigger than the solar system. By applying and spreading LRH tech, you personally are giving the universe real hope. You with me here? L. Ron Hubbard is Yoda, and you and everyone you know is a Luke Skywalker. Simply by existing, by the mere fact that you are Moving Up the Bridge, you are a warrior. You are the last action hero. Losing is not an option! I challenge anyone to look into their heart of hearts and tell me that if they ever found a cause that they considered worthy, as we considered that cause worthy, that they wouldn't join it.

Imagine feeling that big, that important, that powerful every day of your life. And now imagine discovering it was all a lie.

I know a huge problem for a lot of my friends that have left Scientology, is that they realize that they're just average people. There is no great battle against the psychs. In fact, the "psychs", as defined by Scientology, don't actually exist. Many of them, myself included, look and look and look for something to fill that hole, anything – politics, religion, work – and can't find it.

Anyway, my point is that even though I wasn't a Scientologist anymore, I was newly "out". I still felt that driving need to defeat some large and ill-defined enemy. I figured that joining CCHR would be a good way to pursue that purpose. I told myself that I wasn't doing this for Scientology, I was "handling the psychs" so that every religion could be free to flourish. Somehow, though, I knew better than to say that out loud.

And so began my last year in Scientology.

Anyone who has ever been on staff at any org will have a very good idea of what life at CCHR was like. Some of the highlights:

dot.gif Minors who worked at CCHR, myself included, were routinely required to work overtime, sometimes up to 20-hour days, and were not compensated for it. No one complained, of course, because the general attitude was that anyone who complained about little things like pay was "downstat", "counter intention" and "not on board". Anyone who complained or raised protest about the work environment was made to feel guilty and out-ethics. Truth be told, I never considered complaining about it, because hey, the evil psychs were working overtime, and there were thousands of them! There were only a few of us, so we had to work three times as hard to defeat them. Whatever that means.

dot.gif One time, when CCHR was doing fundraising, my friend (also a minor) and I were taken off our normal duties and made to join the rest of the organization in a fundraising drive. We were given a certain quota and told we could not go home until it was met. Other people started going home, but we were asked to stay. We were there until 1AM because though it was too late to call people in Los Angeles, we could still call people in Hawaii. Around 1 or 2AM, we were only $300.00 away from our quota, and my friend finally had to ask her dad to donate the money so that we could both go home. At the time, I felt like I'd really accomplished something good by staying to raise the money.

dot.gif When I started on staff there, I told the Executive Director that I was not a Scientologist, and did not want to do any courses. I was informed in a private meeting between the two of us that that was OK, but I would have to do my Staff Status I and II as part of my job training. I reluctantly consented to that. Myself and everyone else at CCHR was required to go on course during work hours, but also required to work a full 8-hour day. We were not compensated for time on course, because CCHR paid for our courses. This applied whether we wanted to do the courses or not. I was later informed that I would have to do the PTS/SP course after my Staff Status courses, and I suddenly realized that I had been lied to, and that there would always be another course I was required to do as "job training". No one had any intention of letting me be a non-Scientologist. From what I now understand, it is illegal to force employees to do courses in a particular religion, whether it's called "job training" or not.

dot.gifStaff from the research department were routinely pulled off post to do research jobs for OSA. We infiltrated psych meetings, and dug up as much dirt as we could on whichever psychiatrist was the enemy du jour, linking them (however dubiously) to nefarious world-wide conspiracies. I'd rather not get into all the details of this here, but I genuinely hope that no "research" that I so unthinkingly put together was instrumental in destroying anyone's career. Since Scientologists believe that every "psych" is a criminal, we felt that any psych we chose to investigate would definitely have a criminal past. If we couldn't find evidence of any criminal activity, it was generally supposed that it was just because that psych had never been caught, and therefore there was no record of the psych's crimes. Guilty until proven guilty.

dot.gif Members of CCHR put down and ridiculed non-Scientology anti-psych groups as "crazy". Because I was in the research department, I was constantly digging up psych-related data online. One day, I ran across another group of people who considered themselves psych-survivors. Their message was almost identical to ours, and they'd really experienced psych-abuse first hand. I was so excited, I ran and told my senior about it. To my surprise, she already knew about them, but discounted them as "people we didn't want to have anything to do with." I thought that was rather counter productive, but it turned out that the general consensus among CCHR staff was that these people had been too damaged by psychiatry, and were no longer fully sane. I remember thinking that this was a huge outpoint. I mean, here were the people we were trying to help, right? And they already agreed with our message, right? So why weren't we allies? But as I started surfing this other group's webring, I found that almost every page contained a disclaimer stating: "We are not affiliated with CCHR or the Church of Scientology". I remember wondering what exactly we were doing wrong that was prompting these people to disassociate from us. However, I was asked to drop this line of research, so I did.

dot.gifSickness was routinely treated by staff and superiors as the fault of the sick person. When I came down with strep throat, pink eye and a sinus infection on the same day, I figured it would be alright to go home and rest, especially with my nearly perfect attendance record taken into account. My immediate superior was sympathetic, and I was sent to the doctor, and taken home with orders to rest for a week. The next morning, however, I received a call on my private phone line from the HAS, demanding that I return to work immediately. My superior also called and accused me of "out ethics" and "blowing from post". Scared, I got out of bed, got dressed, and went to ask my dad for a ride to work.

He adamantly refused, ordered me to get back in bed, saying that I was in no condition to go to work, and should be resting. I told him I'd been ordered into the org, and he insisted on calling them on my behalf. Of course, when my dad confronted the HAS, the HAS responded "Yes, Mr. Wiseman, of course Mr. Wiseman". But the moment I got back into my room, my own phone began to ring. As I suspected, the HAS called me back to say, "If you want to be treated as an adult, don't you dare have daddy call me!" The rest of the day I received several similar calls from other irate co-workers – one threatening to take ethics action on me because she had discovered that my desk was messy. I didn't tell my parents about these calls for fear of further ethics action. Rather than risk any more hassle, I went to work the following day. I was 16 at the time. Two of my friends who worked there during that time have similar stories, but those are not mine to tell.

dot.gif I was put in two separate treason conditions for losing my keys. The first time I left them in the upstairs bathroom for 1 hour. The second time, they fell down the elevator shaft by accident while I was walking out of the elevator. Even though I fished them out of the elevator shaft with a hanger and a magnet, severe ethics actions were undertaken, because I ran into the org to get the hanger & magnet, thereby leaving my keys "unattended". In the elevator shaft. In the basement. It makes my brain 'splode just thinking about it.

dot.gif The first and last time I ever kissed a woman (with sexy results!) was at a private party held at a friend's house on my day off. Silly me – I kissed her in front of a Sea Org member. A Sea Org member who, predictably, went home and immediately wrote a full-length knowledge report on what she had seen, and sent it to my senior, my parents, and the org. I was disciplined for this at work, and cautioned against this behavior at home. And lemme tell ya, there's nothing more embarrassing than your boss and your dad reading a full blow-by-blow of your one and only lesbian experience. Jesus Christ.

dot.gif While I wore business-casual clothes at work, I was in the happy habit of dressing like a train wreck on my weekends and off time. I'm a firm believer that what I wear when I'm not at work is my business and no one else's. However, someone who knew where I worked saw me out and about one Sunday, and reported my sloppy appearance to the ED. I was disciplined accordingly, and the ED told me that I needed to start dressing like an "upstat" on the weekends.

dot.gif During my time there, I was ordered by the Executive Director over my protests to attend an OSA recruitment meeting during my meal break. I informed her I wouldn't be joining, so there was no point – but it was Wednesday (almost Thursday at 2:00), OSA needed the stat, and I was required to attend. Irate, I marched across the street to the HGB (Hubbard Guarantee Building), and was whisked upstairs into a plush conference room. As in any typical Sea Org recruitment meeting, my life goals were criticized, my current contributions to "wiping out psychiatry" decried as not good enough. "Don't you want to help us clear the planet?" they said. "No," I replied. "I want all religions to have the chance to help people without psychiatric interference, not just Scientology." You shoulda seen their faces.

These complaints, and others I haven't listed here, may seem petty to the casual observer. But what they amounted to was a complete invasion of privacy and dignity as an individual. Sleep deprived, receiving contradictory orders, being demanded to "make it go right" when doing so was actually out of the realm of human possibility, only being as "good as your last up-statistic"… these things can destroy your soul. There are some things that I'm not comfortable revealing because they had to do with the exact nature of the work I did for CCHR, but on a personal and psychological level, those were key factors in my defection.

(Um, not that they're going to appreciate it or anything, but I'd just like to say that Marla and Carrie, if either of you are reading this, I still love the pants off of you.)

In any case, it was the OSA recruitment session, coupled with two other final straws, that ended up breaking the camel's back.

Straw Number One Growing up in Scientology, certain concepts are so pervasive in society that they are taken for granted. One is that kids in public schools are constantly having psychiatric medication rammed down their throats. Two, that you are somehow special, because you have knowledge "other kids don't have". Three is that the OT materials contain the secrets to the universe.

Whether these things are insinuated, implied, or directly told to you by your peers and mentors, they are key elements in the minds of most Scientology youth. At that point, I had managed to make friends with a few public high school students, and none of them were on psych drugs. Most public high school kids also seemed better educated than I was, and better able to socialize with the outside world, so I was fairly certain it was I who was missing out. But disproving the fact that the OT materials would give me the power to levitate and light my own cigarettes just by thinking about it was somewhat more difficult.

I'd read all the Xenu information on Clambake, and of course, I totally disbelieved what I'd read. After all, how could that be? I had been a Scientologist my whole life. My parents were Scientologists, OT7 and OT8. I knew plenty of other OTs. And I had never, *ever*, even heard the word "Xenu" or "body thetan". Besides, I read the materials and I didn't come down with pneumonia and die, so clearly these weren't the real material. Clearly the people on Clambake were nuts, just as I'd been told.

So where to go for real information? I just had to know. On the one hand, if those materials contained the secrets to the universe, I would be willing to put up with any number of abuses, admit I was wrong, and get my ass in session. If there was any chance that I'd be able to make ponies appear out of mid-air by getting back in the good graces of the church, then that's what I would do.

On the other hand, what if I spent hundreds of thousands of dollars, and the next 10 years of my life working up to OTIII only to discover that it was all bullshit? What if, as I have remarked in previous posts, it was just a dangling carrot? By then I would have wasted my youth and my happiness for nothing.

So I waited, and kept my eyes open. One day, and I won't state how and I won't state who and I won't state when, I had an opportunity to sneak a peak at someone's secret OT material's briefcase. That person had left their materials unattended, and I wasted no time cracking that baby open. What I found wasn't much – but there were references to B/Ts, clusters, and whole-track incidents.

I have to tell you – confirmation of the Xenu story was the last thing I expected to see in there. But there it was. I was shocked. I put everything back just as I'd found it, and I knew to keep very quiet about what I had read.

Straw Number Two It was Christmas 1999, and my head was in a sorry state. I'd spend Christmas Eve and Christmas day with my family, and was aching to see my best friend. My parents headed out to dinner, and I let them know I'd catch up with them later. Instead, I went to my best friend's house. When my dad finally figured out I wouldn't be showing for dinner, he called me understandably angry. I assured him I was fine, and that I'd be home "tomorrow". What he heard, and I think to this day still believes, was that I said "at twelve". In any case, there was a misunderstanding somewhere down the line. So there I am at my friend's place around 1AM, and we've managed to wheedle 4 bottles of beer out of the local convenience store clerk, and we're having a lovely old time listening to Velvet Underground in the basement, when I hear my dad's voice outside.

I'll skip all the nasty bits, but it came down to this: I was told that my behavior would be reported to CCHR and the org the following day. I'd *just* worked my way out of a long treason condition for the keys-down-the-elevator-shaft incident, and before that for kissing a girl, and before that for leaving my keys in the bathroom, and before that for skipping course. (If anyone over at OSA is curious what my crimes were/are, there you have them – go to town. I'd like a mention on the RFW site as "Keydropping Lesbian", please.) The thought of yet another two months living in everyone's bad graces made me shudder. I thought of routing out the right way, but memories of the magical, never-ending sec check quashed that notion.

The camel's back broke.

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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