OK, wonderful reader, here’s a pivotal part of my story—one that’s hard to come to terms with, much less write about. That’s why it’s taken a few days to get my thoughts together on this. Thanks for bearing with me!
I’ll be talking about how I was so gullible and foolish as to give someone thousands of dollars after only knowing him a few weeks.
It happens ALL THE TIME in Scientology. You’re trained to within an inch of your life on how to extract money out of people. I’ll write more about that when I talk about my years as a Scientology staff member.
But for now, here’s the story of how rapidly a naive, trusting young woman can be parted with her money.
About halfway through my Life Repair, Jim started planting the seed. “Have I told you about the state of Clear?”
Of course you haven’t, Jim. I’m just swimming around the hook; I haven’t taken the bait yet.
He explained what “Clear” was: a state where you’re free of your Reactive Mind, which is the cause of all your pain and suffering in life. When you’re Clear, you supposedly are completely “yourself”. While I don’t remember all the details, I do remember that in the book Dianetics, Hubbard wrote that a Clear doesn’t get sick, has a higher IQ, doesn’t react to situations they would have reacted to in the past, and all manner of physical ailments are cured, such as bad eyesight.
That was a big one for me, since I’ve had TERRIBLE eyesight my whole life. Spoiler alert: I still do.
So, throughout the weeks that Jim was doing my Life Repair, he continually spoke about Clear and all the things that I could achieve when I reached that state. I’d basically have the ability to handle any bad situation in my life, I’d be as successful as I wanted to be, I’d have great relationships, and I’d no longer get sick. “What’s that worth to you?” he asked.
Oh man, so slick.
After a few weeks of this, my Life Repair was over and I was feeling better about things in general. Was everything perfect? No, of course not. Jim explained that this was just the first step, but an important one, as all the steps on the Bridge to Total Freedom have to be done in a specific sequence to be effective.
One interesting thing Scientology does is whenever you finish a service, you have to write a “success story” about what gains you achieved from that service. If you didn’t want to write a success story, you were sent back to find out why and remedy it so that you DID write a success story. I thought this was no big deal when I was in Scientology—just part of the whole process. But now I see how insidious it was.
If you have a success story, Scientology can use that to show that you did achieve the gains that you wanted from the service. That means no money back if you’re unsatisfied at any time later. It also means that they can hold that over you if you ever speak out in the future.
After I wrote my success story, Jim said, “OK, are you ready to move forward to achieve the state of Clear?” I had been pretty well conditioned by that point to say yes, so I did.
If he’d said, “OK, give me $15,000 for a Clear Package (all the auditing needed to reach Clear from where I was at that time),” I’d have said, “No way! I don’t have that kind of money!” As an aside, it’s a LOT more to go Clear these days. This was 1987, remember.
But Jim didn’t do that. He spent days going over the different ways I could achieve Clear. I could train as an auditor and then co-audit with someone else—the least expensive way, but much longer. Or… I could pay him for all the services up to Clear in one package, and it would be much faster. I’d also save quite a bit because I paid for it all up front.
Finally, he convinced me that I needed a Clear package more than anything in the world, because I’d be SUPERWOMAN after that.
I was making decent money back then as a freelance graphic designer, and had just finished the design of a manual for a large company where they paid me $10,000, so I figured I’d be able to make the money for the Clear Package in a few months.
But no, there was NO time to wait. He said I didn’t have months, that I needed to start right now. “Imagine how much more ABLE you’ll be in a few months from now? This money will seem like nothing to you by then.”
Here’s the thing: He wasn’t pushy, but he was insistent. Most importantly, he’d built up my trust in him over the past few weeks, to the point where I firmly believed he had my best interests at heart. Plus, he was appealing to my desire to be the best I could possibly be—who doesn’t want that?
Ego, ego, ego. That’s how they get you. “Sure, I will. I can easily make that money when I’m Clear.”
Of course, I didn’t have the money at the time. But I had a credit card with a low limit. Jim, of course, knew exactly how to get the limit raised JUST enough to pay for my Clear package. He walked me through it and I did it. Immediately I was in $15,000 of debt. But hey, I didn’t care! I was going CLEAR! Whoo hoo!!
I drank the Kool-aid. I was all in now.
Then it just got crazier.
I’ll tell you about that next time.