I haven’t written in a few days because I’m going through a bit of a rough time.
My wonderful brother Al, who as you know was instrumental in my escape from Scientology, passed away peacefully in his sleep after a long illness.
I’ve been dealing with my grief mostly on my own, and mostly by cleaning and organizing the house. I can’t totally figure that one out, but I hear it’s a pretty common thing.
While I’ve been cleaning I’ve also been doing a lot of thinking. One of the main things I’ve been thinking about is how many wonderful friends I have.
When my friends heard about Al’s death, they were right there with support like I’ve never seen. It feels like I’m being wrapped in a cocoon of love and kindness. I feel so blessed and lucky to have them in my life.
So that’s what I’m thinking about. What friendship means in and out of Scientology.
As a Scientologist, my only friends were other Scientologists. I had no non-Scientologist friends, mostly because I was in the Sea Org and never spent any time with anyone else.
In Scientology, friendship takes on an entirely different meaning. Instead of kindness and love, there’s a lot of “I’ll be your friend as long as you do what you’re supposed to do.”
When I was doing well in the Sea Org, I had a lot of friends. The minute I did something wrong, however, those friends were quick to turn.
Let me explain this with an example. I had been having some difficulty getting a specific issue of a magazine approved by asshat—I mean, David Miscavige. I believe it was the International Scientology News, a puff piece that was published after each big Scientology event, to show how great he was and how much Scientology was expanding. I couldn’t figure out how to make things sound better than they actually were, and he wasn’t happy about it. After about 10 attempts, it was going nowhere. As a result, he decided that I must be committing crimes against Scientology.
Instead of coming to my defense, the entire group of people I worked with 18 hours a day, 7 days a week, surrounded me and started yelling, “WHAT ARE YOUR CRIMES?” I couldn’t give them anything because I didn’t have any crimes—duh. So they just got louder and louder. This went on for a good half hour. Someone threw something at me, a binder or a book or something. I guess the best way to describe it was that I felt like Cersei Lannister walking through the streets of King’s Landing to “Shame! Shame! Shame!”
I learned something that day. I had no friends. I had to prove myself in order to be in good standing, or my “friends” would desert me.
This mindset is driven in from your first days in Scientology. One of the first things you learn is Scientology’s system of ethics, or as I like to refer to it, their system of control.
L. Ron Hubbard—asshat supreme—wrote a policy called “Staff Member Reports”. This was originally written specifically for Scientology staff members but was soon in use by all Scientologists. Basically, if you see something “non-optimum”, i.e. not following policy and therefore “out-ethics”, you are supposed to write a “Knowledge Report” on the perpetrator. The Knowledge Report lays out the specifics and is supposed to make sure that the person gets taken care of, so that the group doesn’t suffer. And here’s where it gets juicy: Anyone who sees something and fails to write a report on it becomes an accessory, and is subject to any disciplinary actions taken when the situation is discovered.
It’s the major way Scientology controls people. You can’t have anyone’s back, because you’ll be punished if you do. There is no trust, no kindness, no love.
Contrast that with what I’ve experienced in the past few years. At first, it was hard for me to believe that my friends actually cared about me and were there for me. I thought it would go away once they knew the things I’d done in my life.
It didn’t. They love me now, and they will love me always. I know this in my heart with total certainty.
Even better, I’m now able to be there for my friends, because I’ve experienced what it means to truly have friends.
I remember times when I was first making new friends a few years back, and one of them would be going through a tough time. It was really hard for me to want to be there for that person, and I never understood why. I beat myself up about this, a LOT.
But now, I understand. I can’t say I’m not ashamed for what I felt back then, but I can say that I’m able to give myself a break about it, now that I realize how I was programmed.
These days, my friends know that I’m always there for them, no matter what. I love them with my entire heart and soul, and I appreciate them more than they could ever imagine.
So this is for you, my wonderful friends. You know who you are. Thank you for helping me see what being a true friend is all about.