This is the twenty-first installment of the account of a journey into and out of scientology — written by one of our long-term readers. I hope you enjoy her insights, humor and style.
Lili also provided a glossary of terms.
Through the Bubble – Lili’s Adventures in Scientologyland
This is my quirky recollection of events. Others may remember things differently. Lingo is italicized on the first mention, capitalized after that. I’ve compressed complexities in the cult to simplify your reading pleasure.
Fear and Kindness, the One – Two Punch
Josh and I shared the dedication to go debt-free. We worked with zeal and joy as we whittled the years of future servitude to the credit card companies down to size. Not having to do multiple Solo-Auditing Sessions per day (since I’d quit Solo Auditing OT VII) also boosted our income. After a couple of years of perseverance and self-discipline, our mountain of credit card debt was nearly vanquished.
The deep-voiced scary phone messages about what an Out-Ethics, loathsome Scientologist I was for Blowing off the OT Level had been replaced by a single voice. This change occurred after I was Recovered. The new single voice was a sweet-sounding, slower-talking, older woman who broke through my reserve and got me to return her calls. After many pleasant phone conversations where she listened to me ramble on to answer her interested questions, she moved in for the kill.
Evidently, there was a “never before” (probably a yearly occurrence) Ethics Amnesty burning its way through the Flag Land Base. At least the buildings weren’t painted blue. They were actually quite posh. The Flag Land Base consists of a couple of hotels, a few restaurants, various commercial rectangular boxy buildings with Course Rooms, Auditors, and a battalion’s worth of Sea Org staff. Not that I have a clue how many people are in a battalion. Or at least this bustling scene was how it was in the late 1980s before Sea Org members started defecting in large numbers. Ex-Sea Org rebels started talking to the media and writing books about the conditions on the inside. All I can say is, keep up the good work, people.
Sweet-Seeming-Lady assured me she thought I was special on our next friendly phone chat. With the conspiratorial whisper of a World War Two spy, she imparted the happy news that she’d taken the time to petition to have me “allowed” back onto my OT VII Level with zero Ethics consequences after my two-year Blow. But… This Amnesty could vaporize at any moment, like ice cubes on Mount Vesuvius. It sounded like this Fairy Godmother level of favor (that I hadn’t asked for), but it hit the someone-was-kind-to-me Button, and I was grateful. Sigh.
I agreed on a date to re-start my OT VII. After being off the Level for two-ish years, I assumed the Flag Sea Org staffers would require me to return for an expensive brush up of my skills. I’d say no, then I’d push back the date to get back on the Level. And hopefully, keep Ethics off my back.
Instead, they mailed me my confidential materials. Shocker. I climbed back in the chair, picked up the E-Meter cans, and the Solo-Auditing adventure recommenced. A year later, I finally finished my freaking OT VII. The E-meter said so. I was on a plane so fast the ink would smear on my Scientology Leaving-Base-Routing Form.
Not a minute too soon, cuz Scientology wasn’t fond of Other Practices. Like yoga, meditation and doctors. I’d felt the creaking in my beleaguered body, ramping up from years of overwork and strip-mining my resources of today for a deficient tomorrow. To even see a chiropractor was something I’d have to report to my Scientology Case Supervisor. The unseen Case Supervisor controlled what I Solo-Audited and could route my ass to Ethics pronto to see why I might feel the need to see a Chiropractor.
My life was further complicated because, as a pre-OT, I could be ordered back to Flag to get dressed down by a teenage Ethics Officer. Before I was due for my Six-Month-Check. Ouch. Cuz when you’re past Clear, you might say something that’d send some Pre-Clear-level Ethics staffer in a lower Org into pneumonia or restimulate them horribly by accidentally saying some OT thing. So, I avoided doctors, dentists, chiropractors, and all Other Practices that the Case Supervisor might look askance at. Well, I’d have avoided dentists anyways, so that doesn’t count.
When I got back from completing my OT VII, the Santa Barbara Org had scheduled an Event so I could share my Big Wins. I fake-smiled my way through it with an aching back, nauseous stomach, and pervasive exhaustion. Within a month, I got sick. I rested for a few days and went back to work. I collapsed again. Up, down, up, down. To the doctor. Don’t know, but here are some anti-biotics. Side effects from the anti-biotics worsened my state. I got scared when after two months, I couldn’t stay upright long enough to get in a full day’s work. The lash I’d applied to my backside for years, just left red welts but didn’t get that dray-horse back into the traces.
I went to a nutritionist and started eating right, cleansing, fasting, and other unmentionable activities in the health-woo department. It worked. And bonus, I kicked my five-cavity-causing sugar addiction. Well mostly. The bad news was I couldn’t work seventy-hour weeks anymore. Turns out stress, which Scientology insists is Reactive Mind bullshit, can cause your body ill health.
My Reactive Mind was supposed to have been taken out with the trash a few OT Levels ago, but the evidence was woefully meager. I chose to take better care of my meat body, so my Thetan could get taken around town to jewelry appointments. I was still a Scientologist, but a secretly cynical one.
After fearing for years that I’d end up a single mom if I had a kid, like my own mom, I found debt-free-ness, and new-condo ownership cured me of my dumb reasons to remain childless. Josh had wanted to have kids for years. While in my eighth month of pregnancy, at thirty-four, my youngest bro-in-law visited and saw that I hadn’t even started nesting yet. He wondered out loud what kind of a mom I’d be. He was concerned. I was concerned. My life was work, enjoy-time-with-Josh, and work some more. I’d look down at my belly bump and try to feel all mother-y. Hmm, kinda didn’t go well.
I asked myself if I was capable of nurturing. I still believed with all my Thetan-being the Scientology party line that a person was only as valuable as their continuing Contribution and productivity. My spirits rose and fell with my Sales Statistic. The bummer about vacations was that they torpedoed my Stats. Giving birth would really screw that up.
The delivery of my unknown sex baby started out as a home birth. That decision made sense between my hippie upbringing and Scientology’s distrust of medicos. That is, until I needed a doctor. Then I yelled my head off in the back of our station wagon, Mom pushed pressure points to keep me sane, and Josh drove too fast on the freeway to the hospital. I wanted that alien thing out of my body. Yesterday. I noted for a fleeting moment how not maternal I felt.
Doctors were helpful, and hours later, the nurse moved a rolling mirror forward and adjusted it when the baby crowned.
“See the baby’s head?”
I looked at the mirror and saw the reflection of dark hair on a bit of baby head, peeking out from you know where. A sudden flood of love overwhelmed my senses. Any doubt that I’d mother this wonderful person Josh and I had created floated away. A tsunami of love rolled outward and filled my bucket with joy. My arms hungered to hold my baby. A few pushes later, the doctor lifted our baby up for all to see. I felt cold and bereft.
“Give me my baby,” I said.
“We just have to clean him up and —” the nurse said.
“Give me my baby,” I used my full Communication-Course-Drilled intention.
My baby, blood and all, was laid upon my chest. We were covered with a moist, warm blanket from some magic drawer. They cut the cord and tried to remove him. Nope. I stared into his beautiful eyes.
My intention was a force field that kept the doctor and nurse at bay. My smiles were all for this magic being, and Josh. And Mom. I felt alive, full of warmth and the conviction that I would lay down my life for this new joy in our lives.
My IV got an extra dose of sleepy-time stuff. My baby was cleaner the next time he was handed to me. The love haze that surrounded me that day would have been well-understood by Georgie, Mom’s friend, who knew what it felt like to have too much love cooped up on the inside. The love spigot was on full that day, with never a dip in pressure.
Parent-Shaming in Scientology, The IAS and Buying Shit Your Kids Don’t Need
If you’re a parent in the Scientology bubble and need some love-bombing to assuage your debt bruises, just buy something in your kid’s name. A lifetime membership in their meaningless, do-nothing IAS, fer instance. You’ll get some shiny, full-teeth smiles fer that.
In case you’re curious, IAS stands for International Association of Scientologists. This secretive tax-exempt Association does briefings Surveyed to push the desire-to-help Button in all Scientologists. Their pursed-lipped purpose was to protect Scientology from the Suppressive Persons that lurked in various parts of the planet, trying to thwart the crucial Planetary-Clearing work of the cherch. Cough.
With a news reader’s stern-faced, serious demeanor, the IAS Sea Org Registrars revealed to the American Scientologists that their help was desperately needed by those poor German Scientologists who were being attacked by their religious-freedom-hating Government. Meanwhile, they’d tell the German Scientologists that they needed to donate to help the poor Colombian parishioners survive the drug gangs’ assault on Scientology’s betterment activities in Bogota. Pure BS. But any Scientologist who looked for factual proof of those broad-stroked generalities would get a nasty clap of cognitive dissonance upside the head. And a trip to Ethics for the temerity to do research and not take the IAS Registrar’s word. You did not question the IAS.
When the IAS circus came to town, it wasn’t just a general, upset, freak-out disruption for the local Org staff. Non-staff Scientologists got the prey-animal agita too. Your puny concerns like child care, jobs, and caring for your old granny, (and seriously, why were you letting that old fossil cut across your income-production Lines anyway), were dismissed as irrelevant. It was always an emergency and time to tackle an International Flap of (in their minds) epic proportion.
I still don’t get how the IAS is tax-exempt if membership is compulsory. A paid IAS membership was required if you planned to take the Courses Scientology soaked you for beyond the mini–Intro Courses. But let’s not bog down into all the ways the IAS was a rip-off. Just know they don’t help anyone.
As a Scientology parent, you’d fer sure be encouraged to buy adult-priced services for your little kids. You could spend thousands of dollars for your four-year-old to get some child abuse, oop, I mean Auditing. Josh and I dodged the whole, spend vast sums of money to make sure your child isn’t possessed-by-unfriendly-disembodied-beings program. I kid you not. That was one of the over-hyped scare tactics lobbed my way when trying to use my love for Van to extract absurd amounts of money from my wallet.
We learned early on never to admit to a Scientologist there was any problem with Van or express any doubt about our parenting choices. Well, except for Lorna and Deave. We were God-parents to their two daughters. I figured we could bitch about the kids with our best friends. But come to think of it, that time we paid too much for the Children’s Ethics Specialist to help us out when Van lied about not doing his homework? And those overpriced summer camps, run by Scientologists? We found out about them from Lorna and Deave. Thanks, guys. Kidding.
We were lucky we didn’t live in Los Angeles. There were a significant amount of outposts for Scientology’s study-method-schools for baby Scientologists down there. Yup, from in-diapers to pre-K and elementary to High School, Scientology had you infested, er covered. No, wait, that was me when I was on OT VII. I was harassed by more than one mom about not Making it Go Right to find Van a Scientology school. The advice ranged from, we could move to LA, no thanks. Or, I could home-school him. That’d pay the bills. Oh wait, I could send Van to a Scientology boarding school. We liked our kid. Why would we send him away? Oh, because it’d be better for him to learn the Scientology curriculum and live with strangers than with his loving mom and dad? Not buyin’ it.
I got more than one mommy-mind-whacking about the importance of indoctrinating our child early on in the Scientology way. According to the mom assigned to make me feel like a total failure as a parent, Van could get massively messed up by the Suppressive public-school-idiot-factory. Overheated tales of drug-addled, homeless, promiscuous, or burger-flipping failures that heedless Scientology parents spawned curled my hair. But Josh and I held firm and let Van be educated with the neighbor kids at the local school.
From a Scientology-parent perspective, I was an incompetent deadbeat. I watched as Scientology parents were lauded while bending backward to turn their kids into little Ron Bots. Years later, those same parents watched as their teenagers got recruited into the Sea Org at thirteen. Yay, we don’t have to pay for college, which L Ron Hubbard said is a waste of a good brain anyway. Not so yay, those same kids Disconnected from their parents after the parentals failed to toe the line, donate enough, or Participate in the right way in Scientology.
Van and the Non-Existent Flaky Babysitters
Van toddled noisily and unhappily around the sparse babysitting room at our local Scientology Org. When we walked back out the door, he wailed. The babysitter volunteer rolled her eyes. She had six kids to watch. We’d been guilted into attending this Event at the Org.
Van’s wails expressed my sentiments. This event had gotten the full PR push. All the buzzy words were trotted out, new release, mandatory, never before seen, etc. What made us attend was the disruptive presence of a three-man Sea Org Team at our local Org. The Org’s Course Room was its usual tomb-like quiet, near-empty self, except for a couple of die-hard ancient Scientologists who creaked in like ghosts.
The visiting Sea Org Missionaires found the morgue-like gloom of our local Org unacceptable. Where was the Participation? Where were the purposeful volunteers crewing the envelope-stuffing station? (A rickety card table, rotting drunkenly in the back stairwell.) Why was there dust on the telephones? Who was in charge of Call-In? They were running out of heads for pikes. The all-seeing eye was squinting around beyond the beleaguered staff members and glinting at the local parishioners.
A stern-voiced Sea Org-er left a message on our answering machine that chilled me. It hinted that to miss this Epic Event could invoke a Mandatory Interview with a visiting Sea Org Auditor about Participation. On an E-meter. Just no. I successfully dodged the local Course Room because I’d done all the courses. But a close look at my current degree of Contribution, or Level of Participation could ruin life as I knew it. My lack of involvement since Van’s birth could land me in Ethics which could, in turn, mess up our comfortable if limited social life.
After my many years in the cherch, most of my non-Scientology friends had drifted to the acquaintance zone when they discovered I was a Scientologist. Or I’d Disconnected from them because they mentioned the death of Lisa McPherson at the hands of Sea Org staffers. Or Operation Snow White, (look it up on the internet) or some other very well-known, heinous Scientology scandal. Well known, unless you were a Scientologist. I didn’t learn about any of these horrid acts of the cherch until I departed. It was just easier to hang out with my boring cherchie friends than risk hearing something I didn’t want to know about Scientology. And bonus, I wouldn’t get raked over the coals in Ethics for befriending “enemies of the church.”
I had told the Org staffer stuck with Call-In before this stupid Event that we had to leave at nine pm to put our infant son to bed. I said I couldn’t attend otherwise. She’d said, no problem, it was a short Event anyway. Anyone who believed that it would be a short Event needed an appointment with their Neurologist to reassess their short-term memory.
At nine pm, I left my chair mid-Event, Josh by my side. A nervous local staff member tried to steer us back to our seats. Josh got in front of me and parted the growing wall of staff bodies determined to stop us without disrupting the Event. We hustled to the babysitting room with our long tail of staff streaming out behind us. Multiple staffers assured us Van was sleeping.
Van was not sleeping. His face was mid-meltdown red. His swollen cheeks were wet with protest at what I guessed was a fruitless attempt to force him to sleep before we showed up. I picked him up, and Josh parted the wedged masses in the doorway. We shed the final forlorn staffer at our car in the parking lot behind the Org building.
My relief at being locked in our car with my wiggling, wailing son seemed disloyal. You didn’t tell Van what to do. You negotiated, you consulted, and hoped to convince him that he wanted to do that thing you wanted him to.
Josh and I dodged many dreadful Scientology Events after Van’s birth with made-up excuses, like last-minute kid illnesses and irresponsible, flaky babysitters. Much to my guilty amusement, we used the flaked-out babysitter excuses long past Van’s need for supervision.