From long time commenter Clearly Not Clear.
Codependence in the Bubble
Being in a cult like scientology, is like being in a codependent relationship.
I thought codependence had to do with living with an alcoholic or a drug addict. Evidently it can be more subtle. Here’s an internet definition:
“Excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner, typically one who requires support on account of an illness or addiction.” – Google answer
Let’s try that on with scientology –
“Excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a cult like scientology, typically one who requires support, (your time and money), on account of their manufactured problems and a need to control you.”
I’ve left the cult of scientology, but I find that the habits I learned, don’t shed so easily. But bit by bit, I’m shedding the behaviors and blind spots.
My adult son helpfully/unhelpfully yelled at me recently and it opened my eyes.
“I tell you over and over again, and you never change. You just do what you do.” I wasn’t quite clear what he was so angry about. But as the days went past, with him over his outburst and moving on, I found I was stuck in sadness. I knew he’d said something important, but I wasn’t sure what it all really meant.
I told a friend who is a parent of four adult children, of my pain. She told me she was getting a lot of benefit in her therapy group. She recommended the book they were reading, Facing Co-Dependence, by Pia Mellody.
I could feel the skin-crawling sensation that you get when someone is watching you, as I walked to the checkout stand with my psychology book. But no one was there spying. Just a smiling woman at checkout. That awful sensation came from inside me. I was committing the ultimate heresy against scientology. I was looking for help from the ‘psychs!’
From what I’m reading, I find that I was in a full-on codependent relationship with scientology. Hearing the ideas of others about codependence, has helped me to understand why.
Pia Mellody writes about codependence and self-esteem. Her description and examples really helped me, as I embark on therapy, as an ex-scientologist.
She talks about the five core symptoms of codependence:
- Difficulty experiencing appropriate levels of self-esteem.
- Difficulty setting functional boundaries.
- Difficulty owning our own reality.
- Difficulty acknowledging and meeting our own needs and wants and being interdependent with others.
- Difficulty experiencing and expressing our reality moderately.
Here’s my response to these symptoms.
- Yup, I was there when I joined.
- I didn’t know I was allowed to set or have boundaries.
- I found this, the key to how the sticky lines of codependence with the church got me.
- If you said you need my help and I liked you, I helped. Even if I knew it’d hurt me.
- Seeing examples of what I thought a good scientologist was, scientology reality, came to be more important a reality to me, than my own.
From an article online, I found these signs of codependency, with responses from various respected professionals. I decided to share them and add my own comments, based on my previous scientology experience.
From the article:
Think you might be caught in a codependent relationship yourself? We asked codependency experts to share some of the telltale signs.
- You’re quick to say “yes” to your partner without pausing to consider how you feel.
“You have a right to take care of yourself in relationships by setting boundaries – finding the inner strength to say ‘no’ or ‘I’m not sure’ if something doesn’t resonate for you or if you need more time to consider your partner’s request.” – John Amodeo, marriage and family therapist and author of, Dancing with Fire: A Mindful Way to Loving Relationships.
In my scientology experience, I was given the goal to go up the bridge. To move my urge to help, to inside the walls of the church. To tell my intimate financial details to them and take advice on job changes, to improve my income. And look to their advice on what services to borrow for. The hard sell, now, now, now, nature of scientology reg cycles, stopped me from having time to reflect. Their yelling about how important it was, and how they were spending time on me, because they knew best, and cared about me, stopped my inner questioning.
- You frequently make excuses or compensate for your partner’s bad behavior.
“For instance, ignoring someone’s drinking or making excuses for them to your friends is likely a sign that you aren’t seeing things clearly in your relationship because boundaries have become blurred.” – Samantha Rodman, psychologist and dating coach.
For me, I made many excuses to new scientologists, or my non-scientology friends about the crazy insane things they read from Hubbard or the media reports and interviews of exes. I’d glosse over the insane statements and focusing on the purpose of the church like a good Ronbot. Smiling, to paper over my inner cognitive dissonance.
- Your partner’s happiness becomes your top priority.
“Such a relationship is truly toxic to the individual’s development, and ultimately their happiness. Still, blind to the repercussions of such misplaced devotion, the codependent individual can’t help but continue to try to please the person they’re enabling because that person’s acceptance of them has become their highest, sometimes their sole priority.” – Leon Seltzer, psychologist.
For me, helping with the Birthday Game, or helping out a staff friend by subbing, or getting talked into some brutal course schedule to help their stats, was a normal (and miserable), part of my life. Because I was told this was, “helping out,” and I’d get some love bombing to coax me to come through, I felt I had to do it. I thought if I was a good scientologist, my life would get better.
- You think you’re helping your partner by bailing them out for the umpteenth time. But at this point, you’re just enabling them.
“You demonstrate your love by enabling and rescuing to help solve your partner’s self-manufactured problems. This means that your loving, supportive acts serve to foster your partner’s unhealthy dependence, poor mental or physical health, irresponsibility. Immaturity, addiction or criminality.” – Shawn M. Burn, author of Unhealthy Helping: A Psychological Guide to Overcoming Codependence, Enabling, and Other Dysfunctional Giving.
For me this: The church got sued by a wronged scientologist. I didn’t read what it was about. I just heard it was an emergency, and dropped everything and flew to Portland. I marched with a “Religious Freedom Now” sign. And chanted what they told us to. For a week.
In another example, a scientology friend asked me to post a glowing review online to counter a bad one. I read the bad review and realized my friend ripped this person off, and refused to refund their money. I wrote the glowing review. Ugg.
- You lose your own sense of identity, interests and desires.
“Healthy love allows for differentiation. Each person can have their individual sense of self and yet remain emotionally connected when there is disagreement or conflict. Differences in the relationship are not taken personally. Each person has their own friends, own interests, each is supportive of the other, and their happiness is not dependent on the relationship. There is an individual sense of self and sense of ‘togetherness.’
Codependent love exists when each partner ends up giving up a part of who they are in order to keep the relationship. The dynamic in the relationship is one of manipulation, control, enmeshment and giving up aspects of yourself.” – Kathy Hardie-Williams, marriage and family therapist.
Yeah, many of my interests languished for years, hopefully popping their heads up for attention here and there, and then sinking back down again. I chose to spend my time doing things that I didn’t really want to do, volunteering to do outreach to attract new people, putting in study time and doing staff type work and hoarding my commendation chits for a future when I’d have to prove my worth at the next higher scientology organization. I deluded myself, that these were my choices and that they were good for me.
- Your partner doesn’t fight fair and often manipulates you to get their way.
“Healthy love includes appropriate boundaries around communication, including conflict. Healthy couples resolve arguments quickly; they don’t stonewall, stew in anger or manipulate their partner.” – Linda Esposito, psychotherapist and writer.
On more than one occasion, my best scientology friend threw me under the bus, telling a FLAG reg, I’d had a good year financially and felt guilty about finally saving some money, or getting me to go to a scientologist’s party (that I didn’t want to go to), and pointing the reg toward me. Another time a friend invited us to dinner and part way through, a reg showed up. Out of the blue. When your friend tag teams with a reg, to get you to spend more money, more than once, to prove their value as a good scientologist, that’s a sign. A sign I didn’t heed.
- You’re always giving way more to your partner than you’re getting in return.
“Codependents are giving a whole lot more than they’re getting back from their partner. Although they may do so to help ‘secure’ the attachment – and so, reduce their anxiety about being rejected – they’re also neglecting their own quite legitimate relational wants and needs.” – Leon Seltzer
Yup. I can’t count the times I was guilted into giving time, giving money and putting myself out there for the church. When they made a mistake, I was told I had, “pulled it in.” The church did not apologize for their (plentiful) mistakes. But if I messed up a tiny bit, to the gallows (to see the ethics officer) I went.
- Your partner is constantly taking advantage of your good qualities.
“Your relationship is with someone that takes advantage of your love and empathetic, helpful nature so they can avoid adult responsibilities and / or taking responsibility for their own life and the consequences of their irresponsibility, immaturity, addiction, poor mental or physical health or criminal acts.” – Shawn M Burn
Yup. I watched silently while people were taken advantage of in the church. I saw, biting my tongue, as a sweet person was slowly relieved of her inheritance. I watched another advised not to buy a house, but to invest in herself. (Buy the bridge to total freedom). I watched a young man who inherited a home, convinced to sell it and buy his bridge. He ended up out of the church and poor and wrecked emotionally. A very creepy part of being inside the bubble is how you are made wrong if you sympathize with someone’s situation. You learn not to express sympathy openly, because it is considered a weakness and that you are being reasonable and not applying toughness.
- You try to take on your partner’s pain and struggles for them.
“Codependents become very uncomfortable allowing the other to have their own pain. Metaphorically, we take it for them and carry it. Unfortunately, most often this is at our own expense, and we can end up feeling very resentful and give up parts of who we are. We believe we are responsible for the feelings of the other and / or that our happiness depends on being in the relationship.” – Kathy Hardie Williams
I have found that taking responsibility is a huge and much used button,in scientology. When they are sued, refunded, exposed and more, they whine, “we’re innocent, you have to help.” They spin the details till they seem a quivering innocent orphan, starving with pathetic hands out, and only you, the big strong thetan, can help them handle to problem. And so, you big strong (manipulated) thetan, do indeed open your wallet, or clear your schedule.
- Your relationship is predicated on conditional, controlling and coercive behaviors.
“For example, ‘If you truly loved me, you wouldn’t make me so angry, that I need to unwind with alcohol.’ Or, ‘When we get married, you have to stop going out with your friends.’” – Linda Esposito
Forget about being late to course or not coming when scheduled. Even when sick, even when it’s stormy, even when your car is sputtering, threatening to break down, you need to make it go right. If you’re teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, because you’ve got loans up to your eyeballs, for church services, that was yesterday. Show up today or else. There are no victims, according to scientology, just degraded thetans, who are out-ethics. The carrot and the stick are skills heavily in use inside the bubble.
Scientology’s lies, manipulation, false compliments, shiny books with their ‘tech’ to free you, empty relationships and pleas for help, are all present in their quiver of manipulative tools. Drilled in skills, are used by them to suck you in and stick you like a bug into codependence.
I’d be curious to hear if you have any examples of times the realities of others, were taken on by you, as your own.
My son and I are fine now. He is thrilled I’m in therapy and he loves feeling heard.
It’s largely about complete & utter control…..brainwashing to “Obey Without Question”….the leader of the pack. To instill so much fear of the outside world who is DEFINATLEY “going to harm you”….where you will be abused & possibly killed.
The reason for disconnection disassociation is to prevent OUTSIDE ideas from entering your head. IF you’ve never experienced anything else & this is all you know….you feel safe & protected inside the bubble. Forbidden to read, view or listen to anything else…you are only seeing one side of the coin…the side THEY want you to see.
Throw the baby out with the bathwater, into a world they know nothing about, with no money, no housing, no food, no life skills, no friends or family to depend on…FEAR is a great motivator to stay inside where you feel at last somewhat safe….& where on occasion you MIGHT “get to see your parents & siblings”…maybe once in awhile.
In order to hang on to their members, cults know what works….C0-dependence….keep them under the watchful eye 24/7 without access to CRITICAL THINKING…..you cannot compare what you’ve been taught to something you’ve never seen, read, heard about or experience.
Clearly Not Clear says
You’re description of what codependence looks like when it’s hard to leave, because of fear is so right on. I love how you name scientology methods. It made me think of women who are beaten and people who are in other cults and children who are home schooled by crazy religious zealots.
Codependency is no joke.
Thank you my friend. To finally FEEL freedom is a wonderful thing. In my high school days I had friends who soon after graduation joined “The Moonies & The Hare Krisna’s”……their parents were horrified but could do nothing to prevent what was going on.
While working in NYC I actually “bumped into” one of these same people in Times Square…partially shaved head, white capri pants & robe…Bells…jumping up & down barefooted looking for money.
These KIDS thought they were doing something good…trying to save the world from itself….wouldn’t listen to anyone. As time went by….a few of them finally saw the light of day…off came the rose colored glasses…a DOSE of REALITY set in. They saw their friends succeeding in life & THEY had NOTHING….
I’ve seen FEAR & FELT FEAR as children were removed from abusive parents…children who had NO escape until the legal authorities stepped in. I’ve seen KIDS burst into tears being taken away from their parents…..as BAD OR HORRIFIC the abuse is….it’s the ONLY HOME they have ever known.
with…what you DO NOT KNOW is what may lie ahead should you decide to BLOW……
A girlfriend went out to California in the late 1960’s…she joined a “religious cult” where she was passed around like a magazine…used for SEX by the “Pastor” who garnered himself ALL the pretty young girls & WIVES of the male members. It was the husband’s DUTY to “share his bounty” with the Pastor. THAT religious sect was raider & the “Pastor” jailed…….for crimes against women and children….as well as male members who were beaten into submission & shunned.
FEAR & ISOLATION are great motivators to KEEP people IN & under the full control of those that run the show. ILLOGIC as it may seem…..you KNOW the abuser you are living & what would happen to you should you FAIL HIM…..What you DO NOT KNOW is what lies on the outside…somewhere, something you’ve never had the chance to live or experience….it could be WORSE….or it COULD BE BETTER……What to do, what to do….RISK IT ALL…Or STAY locked in forever…
It delights me to know end to hear how everyone who is now FREE is beginning to recover & will ALWAYS be in recovery…..FREE FREE FREE….yet the sadness remains because of those who are still choosing to remain in.
Sadly we CANNOT save someone who does not or IS not wanting to be saved…WE MUST SAVE OURSELVES….I am so proud of you!
I would like to add……HEY DAVID M…..WHERE THE HELL IS SHELLY????
Clearly Not Clear says
I’m so proud of you. You see clearly now.
Thank you again CNC but your mind is CLEARER then even YOU realize because now you KNOW the TRUTH. Of course, the BIGGEST thanks to Mike & Leah for exposing COS for what it IS….as are so many other cult religions. I truly hope and pray that the Aftermath Series will be appearing again.
Media reports, books & TV Shows” on certain religions which seem to have females indoctrinated into a belief system that they are of no value other than to be under the rule & thumb of their father or husband, that they should be available for sex 24/7, not use birth control & have as many children as “God gives them”…& more or less forbids females from working outside the home or getting a REAL college education…..the females are prisoners of male authority.
The TV Celeb who “gives away miracle water” that will bring in thousands of $$ to the person who calls to receive it…..& then has people “testify” that they got checks in the mail for THOUSANDS of $$$$….HOW DOES HE GET AWAY WITH THAT?
For Mike & everyone else who found themselves LOCKED UP IN THE HOLE on the order of “the tiny one” in charge knows all too well what CULTS are all about because like some of my high school friends…YOU LIVED IT.
Church Vs. State….there you have it…the “Feds” learned that intervening in the FLDS by forcing & removing women & children left them with egg on their face when the women DEMANDED to “go back home”…the ONLY life they’ve ever known…same scenario.
INTIMIDATION THROUGH FEAR OF WHAT LIES OUTSIDE & fear of “eternal damnation & no afterlife”….WOW.
>>Yup. I can’t count the times I was guilted into giving time, giving money and putting myself out there for >>the church. When they made a mistake, I was told I had, “pulled it in.” The church did not apologize for >>their (plentiful) mistakes. But if I messed up a tiny bit, to the gallows (to see the ethics officer) I went.
This is the arrogance of Hubbard, David Miscavige and the Church of Scientology at large. They are infallible. Cannot make mistakes, will never apologize for their wrong-doing. Will also seek to justify their actions by assigning blame to others so as to never truly taking responsibility for anything. And to those who don’t quite understand WHY a group would never admit wrong, it’s simply because if they admitted they were wrong, then it would likely invalidate Hubbard or Miscavige which would open the door to questions they couldn’t answer without throwing cans of gas on the burning fire at their gates.
What the Church of Scientology really is; a vampiric, two-faced organization of members carefully manipulated into a tunnel-visioned and false version of reality and the universe. Who seek to put on a front of decency and honesty, and sometimes victimhood but who ACTUALLY justifies and carries out all manner of violations on human rights. This is because their “greatest good” policy gives them carte blanche to ruin lives, deceive officials, law enforcement and hide behind the US Constitution.
Have you ever heard of someone who was Declared an SP, requested a Comm Ev to clear it up, was found innocent on EVERY SINGLE CHARGE, whereby Senior HCO admitted that the SP Declare should never have even taken place? I might be the only person where a Comm Ev found a person innocent on every charge. Yet in the same Finding’s and Rec’s then recommended disciplinary actions, including an “at your expense sec check at an SO org”, lower conditions, 25 hours of amends. And on top of that had to be done within 3 months or they wouldn’t lift the SP Declare. Well, you’re hearing MY own story and proof (I am in possession of my F&Rs) that not only will the Church ever not take responsibility for their actions, but will quickly turn it around on the person affected to make them right, and me wrong. That is no justice, that is 100% kangaroo court and that is why I left forever. But their actions here not only caused me to leave, but caused me to become an enemy. Yes, they tripped over themselves to make an enemy.
While they have the billions to try and stop us in the Courts of Law, what they don’t have are the numbers of actual former members willing to speak up and expose their heinous acts of inhumanity. We own the information war which is why they will continue to shrink.
George M. White says
Thanks for sharing your story. These Scientologists are bad.
You might also want to read Dr. Phil McGraw’s book LIFE CODE……..it’s a real eye opener as well. Information on how you can easily play into the hands of others & how to give everyone “the benefit of the doubt” is no longer the smart thing to do.
I’ve always been the people pleaser type person, trying to look past the “evils of others & forgive”…but how MANY TIMES can you forgive etc….or overlook certain wrong doings of others….without harming yourself or examining WHY you are involved WITH them….etc…
“CoDependents become very uncomfortable with allowing others to have their own pain.”
I knew a number of Scientology parents like that. They really helicoptered over their kids – mentally, emotionally, physically. Just awful. As a child I would have gone crazy if my parents had been like that! No room to breathe. I’m not a parent, so my opinion isn’t worth much but I think helicopter parenting is more harmful than benign neglect. But that’s just me. Some of the Scientology parents I knew were obsessed with their kids. Auditing, ethics cycles, knowledge reports, O/W write ups, Scientology schools, courses…jeez, can you let the poor thing out of your sight for a minute and just let it be a kid and figure some things out for himself? And can you spring for a few bucks so that he/she can learn how to do something when grown to adulthood? A combination of helicoptering and GROSS neglect. The kids have no chance to be, do or have anything on their own and fall into the Sea Org like too ripe fruit falling off a tree.
Forgot to add, great article, CNC. Insightful.
Experts and research have compared cults to addiction.* And I think it’s very valid to apply that to the CofS, particularly as an extreme cult.
It’s been said in various ways over the years, that Scientology is the organizational embodiment of Hubbard’s pathological personality, and it is set up so that individual staff and members are conditioned and indoctrinated to take on his traits and become like him. I think that has a lot of truth to it, and it’s an incorrigibly dysfunctional organization carrying out dramatizations of Hubbard’s traits as a narcissistic abuser, indelibly ingrained when he was its highly controlling and micro-managing leader, and so dealing with Scientology indeed can end up being very much like in being in a bad relationship with someone who has that sort of unhealthy personality and dynamics.
Thanks for sharing your journey, perspectives and insight.
for instance, Cults and Addiction – ResearchGate
“Behavioral addiction is a form of addiction not caused by the usage of drugs”
note the above also defines what they classify as Cult Dependence Disorder, for those who might be interested in taking a closer look
I’m in tears, Mike! I’m so happy you are going to therapy. After growing up with an abusive mother, I still deal with boundaries. Good luck!! I go every 2 weeks whether I need it or not. It helps to share with someone objective and helps keep burdens off family and friends that they may not understand…..best wishes!
Mike Rinder says
Thats not me, that is the person that wrote the article.
I realized that after!! My sentiment remains the same no matter! I need to stop trying to read blogs on my phone 😉
Free Minds, Free Hearts says
This is so well said – and Still Not Declared, Clearly Not Clear, wife of Terra Cognita you are bith such great writers.
Clearly Not Clear,
This was an excellent post. I also really enjoyed the format where you included both the question and answer from the therapist but then incorporated how it applied to you as well.
As a never-in I know I’ll never relate very well to what exes feel even years later, though I sympathize greatly. However this really helped me to understand, as I was very codependent upon my alcoholic ex-husband and my mother likely has her photo next to the textbook description in research texts. This not only helped me identify some areas where I can use some “tune-up” but it also eloquently provided parallels in the scientology experience that helped me better understand the dynamic.
Good on you for getting therapy and especially for listening to your son and being willing to see the truth in what he experienced in his interactions with you. The books Boundaries and The Road Less Traveled were so helpful to me. (In addition to my 1st marriage, my mother was/is suffering with mental illness but won’t accept professional help.)
I look forward to future posts you write!
Chris Shelton says
Wow! This was one of the most awesome articles I’ve seen on Mike’s blog in years. I’m so happy for you but I’m also so happy you wrote this breakdown to show how it IS indeed a co-dependent relationship. I love it.
Well Clearly not Clear, or Mrs Terra… most of us here have gone through very similar experiences, unfortunately…..but I found it more like “willing subjugation” than codependence.
This is one of the most moving and honest things I’ve read in ages
Yes, very honest. And raw, and moving. Thank you for letting yourself be vulnerable with your pure honesty about your mindset back then, CNC. Hard to describe but its like a gift you gave us.
Clearly Not Clear says
Writing it was like a gift to myself. Reading all of these comments was an emotional and wonderful thing.
Reading comments from never-ins and wish they’d never-been-ins alike has been cathartic.
Nicely said. Excellent understanding of the scn totalitarian regime of me, me the church is all that matters. You are nothing, you don’t matter.. we, the church are everything to everyone. Ugh.
Oh, so many examples of doing things for Scientology, despite the harm to my family and myself. After I left and was gone for some time, I took an online course offered through my work called the Science of Happiness. The course is taught by two UC Berkeley professors and is free. These professors are responsible for the development of emojis on Facebook to help people communicate their feelings in posts. It covers activities that contribute to personal happiness i.e. forgiveness, gratefulness, mindfulness, yoga, meditation, etc. – over ten weeks. I loved it and mentioned it on my Facebook page. I was immediately attacked by my few remaining Scientology friends who attacked, then unfriended and blocked me. It was a rough time. I realized that I was really dependent on being able to maintain these associations while not participating in Scientology. Losing them meant that I was worthless. Scientology was still important in my life in some warped way. So identifying this a co-dependence is appropriate and I think realizing this is a good place to start.
Mat Pesch says
Thanks for sharing!
Angry Gay Pope says
While psychiatry has a checkered past they are not the demons the cult makes them out to be. Psychs consider Sci’s mentally ill and merely want to help them. Which is, of course, why the church makes them out to be evil.
Take Em Down says
Scientology is like an OCTOPUS. Just keep on drinking fresh water and that will finish it off……..
At the top it says: From long time commenter Clearly Not Clear.
So it´s not from Mike!
Firstly, I think I should point out that this is a post by “Clearly Not Clear” and not by Mike since some commentators seem to have missed this.
For me, it was always to Scientology that I turned when I was in trouble, and 15 years after leaving it is still an effort for me to realize that I cannot do this anymore and that the Organization is not my friend.
I took some Psychology courses at University and drew the conclusion that it was at best useless and at worst extremely damaging. This was before I ever encountered Scientology.
And so, this was one of the easiest things for me to buy into. Even today, I would have nothing to do with it.
Taking up some of the other points:
I always kept the regges at arm’s length and made it up to OT V without going into debt.
When I tried to get onto the Level this suddenly changed. I never did get onto it but left Scientology instead. I realized I would be ruined financially if I continued.
I was always aware of the outpoints in Scientology.
At the time I rated the services I had received very highly and decided that it was worth putting up with a lot of BS to continue.
When I left Scientology I was definitely in much better shape than I had been when I first joined.
Hubbard told us to flourish and prosper.
I did exactly this, but I appreciate the irony that I had to leave Scientology to do so.
I relate a great deal to what you’ve shared, Cavalier. Especially, “Hubbard told us to flourish and prosper. I did exactly this, but I appreciate the irony that I had to leave Scientology to do so”.
Kay Rowe says
Thanks for sharing your article-WOW!
Couldn’t have posted this at a better time. My life has been more severely impacted by 37 years
in the cult than I even imagined.
I’m 64 yrs old, high school grad, no higher education, most of my resume is cult and the rest
hospitality industry and self-employment. Now I need a salaried position for financial stability
and its a struggle.
I never looked ahead to the future when I was in the cult, just the day to day quotas and
“saving the world” being more important than me. I didn’t predict I’d ever leave the bubble
and that my lack of education and experience in the real world would crush me in my
Oh well, it is what it is and I will make the best of it somehow.
Clearly Not Clear says
This moved me greatly. When in the bubble I had these little thoughts tapping me, how is it fair that I get to sleep and my course supervisors are clearly sleep deprived? Why do I get good food at an event, but the staff have to stand by, touching nothing? How is all these staff working so hard so I can do what I’m doing more easily not be compared to underpaid Asians working for pennies on the dollar to make my clothes?
Why I wondered these things I had no idea that it was so much worse for Sea Org staff than I imagined.
Wow! Nails on the head all over the place, CNC! I ALWAYS felt bad for the staff – poorly paid, overworked, etc. Constantly having to serve us public and scramble to earn some kind of living so they could keep body and soul together, so they could STAY on staff. A horrible life; I’d shudder inwardly and feel so guilty but I just couldn’t or wouldn’t sign that contract and join them. Lots of times I bought things or donated because I felt bad for the staff, wanted to give them a stat. And like you I had NO clue that as bad as the staff had it, as miserable as their lives were, the Sea Org people had it 10 times worse.
Rip Van Winkle says
Aqua, many of those staff members may have silently pitied you, watching as you attended the event…
I was one of those. Staff was hard, challenging, so much at stake… but there was nothing else in the world I would have wanted to do.
I was doing the EXACT right thing. I could look LRH in the eye and tell him I would do more.
I pitied the PCs, the students, the fringe publics… I wanted OT and Forever so badly, I wanted the Scientology world, and I knew the only way to get it was to be cause, and to assume cause was the road out. Victims are not cause.
I loved recruiting staff, even when I failed to get a sign up, I would be so revitalize personally that I’d be practically dancing with joy.
I was Div Six, I was HCO, Reg, Tech, Sup, Qual, O/O, D/ED… every post I held over the decades, I held with fierceness and the certainty that I was On Purpose, that my actions mattered, and that we WOULD prevail.
I never envied the “professional PCs” or the Students who couldn’t contribute. They were missing out and hadn’t a hope in hell.
I knew that responsibility proceeded case gain.
I did the FEBC about a year after joining staff. The indoctrination was burned into me on a cellular level. I rode it for about 40 years.
I now pity everyone caught in the cult. (except 2, those two I’ve cursed with the hope they’ll be trapped forever)
Clearly Not Clear says
Wow, what an amazing viewpoint you have shined a light on. I knew a very gung-ho ex staff member who’d been an auditor on staff. Very well regarded and on staff and off a very ‘on-purpose’ cherchie.
She once pulled me aside and told me in painful detail that she thought I was a dilettante, and wanted to see me ‘be more active.’
I could see she pitied me for not ‘getting it.’ Her reward was to be love bombed regularly. She’s still giving, fundraising and pushing people to be on purpose like her. I felt the flames of her certainty licking at the raised hairs on my neck when she turned her tone 40 gaze to me and tried to change me. It was very uncomfortable.
Thank you for reminding me of what cult adherence can do to a person’s view of others.
I’ve never been so glad I didn’t ‘measure up.’
Rip Van Winkle says
Yep. When one is in its grips to those depths I see zero hope of escape or breakthrough.
Certainty, moral high ground, star-high-eternity purpose, confirmation bias glasses filtering the world view, all upon a foundation of years and decades of entrenched bullshit.
As long as that’s the scene, no hope.
Christ, but it feels good to be free.
Clearly Not Clear says
Oh, to be free. It’s funny, it’s what I wanted all along.
I’m happy for us all to be free of the cult.
Mike, I’m very touched by your honesty and your willingness to be open about it. My God, you’ve been through a lot! I’m a recovered alcoholic and drug addict myself and still have a lot of remorse about people I hurt in the past, but it’s nothing like what you’ve been through, and I’ve never been fair-gamed. I hadn’t realized you had a grown son, and I’m glad things are going better in your relationship with him because you were willing to examine your own behavior. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate all your hard work, and I wish you and yours all the best.
This article is actually authored by and discussing a long term commenter here, not Mike.
Mike does have a grown son (Benjamin) as well as his daughter Taryn. Sadly, both disconnected from him as they remain in the church. There are actually some articles (check out Tampa Bay Times “The Truth Rundown” as I think it touches on this) about how Mike attempted to go see his son in person, as he was told secondhand that his son was dealing with cancer.
Clearly Not Clear says
Actually, this is Clearly Not Clear, commenter on the blog, not Mike. Maybe I should sign myself, Still Not Declared, Clearly Not Clear, wife of Terra Cognita.
Oops, my bad; I didn’t see your byline. But: same sentiments to you as I mistakenly expressed to Mike.
Me too! Good luck clearly!!
Sarita Shoemaker says
Thank you for this.
Even today…after being officially disconnected and openly sharing my hate for scientology and what it did to my family and myself for a decade…I still have so much of this crap IN MY HEAD.
I completely understand what you wrote here “I could feel the skin-crawling sensation that you get when someone is watching you, as I walked to the checkout stand with my psychology book. But no one was there spying. Just a smiling woman at checkout. That awful sensation came from inside me. I was committing the ultimate heresy against scientology. I was looking for help from the ‘psychs!’”
I am going to get this book as soon as I can.
Sarita Shoemaker says
Just to clarify…my mom died in 2007 making it possible to disconnect (they couldn’t hold her captive any longer). It took another decade to have the courage to speak out and be OK with saying what I felt. Then I began telling my stories to people who had never even heard of scientology and they were shocked of what me and my family tolerated. So, it’s 2020 and I’d say I am not free of scientology because it was put / forced into my upbringing starting at a young age when brains are still developing (Age 7).
Rip Van Winkle says
I feel you.
So much is still there… Always finding more to try to strip away.
Crap in my head.
Trained in judgement, inclinations, assumptions, crap I can’t just banish.
Uncomfortable from hearing an interviewer who fails to ack before asking a next question, unable to speak around someone who just whacked themselves on a door, so much nonsense.
Crap in my head.
But the other day I was reflecting upon changes in a close relationship.. I realized that I’d not had ANY cult in my head. Nothing about ARC, ARCXs, natter, conditions, justification, motivators, dynamics, dramatization, case, NOTHING!!!
A wonderful delightful realization!
Good article. I don’t know any ex who has not been through that.
jere Lull (39 years recovering) says
GREAT article. I hope you’re feeling as good as your writing is clear.
Joe Pendleton says
Wonder what the Scientology experience would have been like with self determinism gladly granted and with the absence of force, threat , heavy evaluation and invalidation of personal viewpoint .
I think that would have been potentially do-able, but then again I guess I could say the same thing above for most of the major religions of Earth. Check the history . Unfortunately , Ron could not restrain himself from borrowing some of the worst “successful actions” of the past.
Powerful post, Mike. I was on staff in the 70s, and this totally resonates. I grew up in an alcoholic home, my mother was codependent (I’ve been told this by a therapist), so of course I knew how to be a good staff member! Your post shed some new light on my involvement, and I thank you. We’re never too old to face our demons.
Absolutely great essay! I love reading when others share their recognition, for brutal self inquiry, into the nature of Scientology’s insidious imprinting on the mind and heart.
Brutal meaning: an uncompromising and courageous self analysis into the seed ideas planted in the unconscious which instructs behavior and world views.
I know you guys are out there. I pray more start writing on their inner journey.
Sure it’s healing to complain about the church and it’s crimes; but that is just the beginning of healing.
The real work of liberation from the madness of Hubbard is to go on that inner journey to undo what was implanted into our cognitive faculties.
I support those warriors of the inner journey. You guys help us all to take a look and see – directly – how this madness was constructed and interiorized into our lives.
Victory to you inner warriors! It’s YOU that will help others!
Thank you for this essay! Thank you very much! Let’s have more of these.
Clearly Not Clear says
Thanks, Brian. I have another in mind.
Absolutely fitting comparison!
George M. White says
When I was in Scientology, I observed a lot of people who bought into Hubbard’s theory of past lives and the reality of his imagined “Time Track”. These were the most codependent of all and it seemed to be motivated by fear. Most dedicated Scientologists that I met could only focus on Hubbard’s definitions of the thetan which everyone learned almost from day one. Hubbard had a linear definition of reality and a time track with a definite beginning and end. I remember his confused lectures on light in which he could never explain why it was discovered as a particle and a wave. Hubbard, as I recall, was very ambiguous and never gave an answer. I also remember his contradictory theories on the origin of the universe. Hubbard just was totally confused and contradicted himself often. If one tries to follow Hubbard, it turns into a sea of lies that he just made up. My exit from Scientology started with his complete misunderstanding of Buddhism. This pointed to his lack of understanding of quantum physics. In the end, Hubbard’s rejection of science ended his religion.
Queen B says
I so agree. I tried just a day ago to express that very same thought. I was unable to express it as well as you have here.
George M. White says
Thank you for the kind words.
George, curious; do you believe that we live once, and that’s it? Fine if you do, btw. Just curious, if you feel like answering. If not, if its too personal, that’s ok too.
George M. White says
It is not personal but it is a difficult concept to understand in original Buddhism. First it is necessary to NOT think about the Hindu influence on current Buddhism. Buddha did not call himself Buddha and all of his sayings about past lives are a subject of controversy. Buddha called himself “Tathagata” which means one who comes and goes at the same time. Enlightenment as a concept was added 100 years after the Buddha died by rich people who supported a group of monks. You then got Tibetan Buddhism much later. I am in a small fringe of current Buddhism which started in Thailand but seeks to use the original Pali language. In original Buddhism there is no beginning or end to time. There is only the present and no permanent spirit or entity. The best example is Heraclitus in Greek philosophy where you are in a fast moving “stream”. In fact, the stream is much faster than lightening. So in Original Buddhism we live in high energy. That is all the Buddha ever said and that is all he taught. I do not want to get into Pali but suffice it to say there are two major concepts which define past lives – one is material and universal the other is personal.
Both seem easy but are difficult to understand. In the end, the energy flows win out and consciousness only happens when all factors are firing at the same time. So to answer your question, past lives are illusory but necessary to conditions of suffering or “Dukkha”. Hubbard had it all wrong and relied on mistranslations from 19th century scholars which were wrong. People like Hubbard were called “Stupid” by the Buddha because they could not understand that an eternal spirit was a great liability. There is a “Time track” but it has no beginning or end or even a marker for time.
“In original Buddhism there is no beginning or end to time.”
Conceptually, that would be “infinity”, correct?
Just a term, a word, a verbal or written symbol for the concept “no beginning, no end”.
George, thank you. I appreciate your thoughtful and detailed reply. I’m not saying I fully understand it, mind you. But I’m going to look up “Tathagata” and take it from there.
George M. White says
Technically it is infinity but the term was never used. There is only the present is the way it is said. Infinity would bring in time.
Actually, I understand that. “Time” is an illusion. There really isn’t any such thing as time. All we “have”- ever – is “now”, i.e., the present. Very difficult to put this into words! But I get it, conceptually, at least, notwithstanding how inadequate I am in articulating “it”. Thanks, George.
Oh, and also, the reason its so hard to put this concept into words is because “now” in this sense cannot be measured in physical universe terms, i.e, a second, a minute, etc. “Now” is all ever can have, its static and its not measurable but we always have it, always HAD it, always WILL have it…whew! Language is so inadequate and misleading when communicating this. At least, the English language is.
Wow, George, we’re a “small fringe”?! 🙂 Are you referring to Theravada Buddhism in general, or some specific sect?
Hubbard was also influence by Rosicrucianism, plus late 19th and early 20th century spiritualism, channeling and pseudo-scientific systems, as well as various self-improvement and motivation works of the “new thought” movement – there was more of that than you can shake a stick at, including people who set up their own institutes of various sorts and published books including multi-volume sets (Edgar Cayce, “The Sleeping Prophet,” being the most famous, though I have shelves full of oddities including Wickland’s marvelously titled “Thirty Years Among the Dead”!).
George M. White says
I started with Theravada Buddhism but now I do not consider myself part of the main stream. My wife and I have launched out on studying Pali in depth. It puts us in a small group of non-monks who getting into Pali. We do not accept many of the texts in the Canon.
George, I’m still not sure I’d call that “fringe” as much as “serious” – unless you’re going about it in some way that’s very culty 🙂
It would be interesting to get to talk in person sometime.
George M. White says
Yes , we are serious. I tried teaching at one time but my student was not fully out of Scientology. If you are in the Clearwater area, I drive the thirty miles a few times a year. It can be light.
Co Dependent No More says
You nailed it Mike. One does not become Self Determined in Scientology. One becomes an addict – addicted to Scientology. One becomes a co dependent ON Scientology. One makes sure Scientology, the narcissistic beast, is always happy. One gives up money and time to makes sure Scientology always has lots of money on account and slaves working for free. If the head of the monster (DAVID MISCAVIGE) determines there are suppressive semi colons in the books, everyone reacts and makes the head of the monster happy. Hence GAT I and GAT II. All for absolutely nothing. Libraries threw the books out.
Scientology is no different than being addicted to meth.
Your needle is the Org and the poison is the tech.
Scientologists inject each other with the drug and then inject themselves to Keep Scientology Working.