14 years in Scientology

14 Years in a cult

Every weird thing you’ve ever read about Scientology is probably true – except the one where Tom Cruise can fly. He can’t fly, and neither can the ashtray in the $1500 Scientology basic course. I spent 14 years in a cult without realising it.

As a confused 17-year-old, Scientology saved my skin. It could have been Jesus, Amway or the Great Pumpkin, but in 1977, it was the dead-eyed guys in black and white that go and on about happiness.

I was perfect for Scientology; lost, miserable and smoking pot, and trying to have sex with my gay best friend. Getting busted for shoplifting was how I met my first Scientologists.

Having fines to pay, I got a waitress job at a 300 seater pancake restaurant. They were a Scientology family running their business along Scientology principles.

Their first born was part of Ron Hubbard’s inner circle. Mike Rinder was a hero, but it was his little sister who was my best friend.

Sleepovers at their house included cups of tea and granita biscuits in bed every morning. It was the polar opposite to the weird shouty chaos that was my home. In Scientology, drugs are bad, the family is good, and with the Rinder family’s kindness, I straightened my life out enough to think clearly.

Scientology hooks with the perfect bait

The bait is whatever is messing up your life right now. It’s called a“ruin”, and what was ruining my life, apart from not being able to bed my gay best friend, was the chaotic relationship with my mother.

Looking back, I see how disregulated her nervous system was, and so much of that was projected onto her kids, but then all I knew was confusion and emotional chaos.

With the family mired in their own issues, I was pretty much ignored, but never did I gain that much attention than when I announced the Church of Scientology had a new member. They went nuts. For a family so good at neglecting, ignoring, and pretending to be normal, suddenly all eyes were on me.

My grandfather, emotionally and physically absent normally, threatened to go to the newspapers, and I was banished from Christmas cheques for years. The family didn’t want any mumbo jumbo showing them up.

My family disowned me and I dived into yelling at an ashtray to make it fly. (Yes, that’s one of their exercises)

14 years in a cult

The irony is – I never spotted it – an neither do many others drawn into a cult. When you’re born into an emotionally or physically abusive family tid up with their own problems, a cult feels normal, or better. My family had no bandwidth for this sensitive child who cried at the drop of a hat and hid in libraries because she was so shy.

At 17, I couldn’t wait to leap into the grip of Scientology’s rules and dogma, because the love bombing felt amazing.

Scientology may have sorted out a messy teenage life, helping me to stop smoking pot, and learning boundaries., but as far as resolving the chaotic relationship with my mother, it was useless. I could have bought a house, for the money spent on courses and self development.

I stayed in Scientology for 14 odd years till one day the hypocrisy and anti-gay sentiments got too much.

Leaving required assertiveness, but they taught me that. Those were analog days, blissfully before iPhone and email. Leaving was as easy as walking out and not answering the phone or door for a while. I got sick of their anti gay attitude, when Ron Hubbard’s own son was gay, and left.

20 years later, they knocked on the door at 9 pm. My dog got there first, all bristle and tooth, followed by my partner who lifted one up by the collar and described what would happen if they returned. They never did.

My family of choice

My new little family of dog and partner stood by me, protecting me from a cult, while in 1977, all my birth family protected was their reputation.

Ever known anyone in a cult?

Before judging, ask yourself: What could possibly be going for that person to make joining a cult look like a good thing?

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Semi fictional story about me

In 1994, I had a midlife crisis, got a boob job and moved to Byron Bay.

Quickly realized there was nothing there but more boob jobs and white furniture, so I escaped faux-spiritual beach culture, went to Peru, and experimented with DMT.

While in Peru, fell in love with a Shaman who was really a plumber from Padstow, but stayed because of attachment issues.

After following a puma from the jungle, I holed up in a Scandi-style Air B’n’B and finally got enlightened.

Parts of this story are true.

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