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When Scientology’s toxic policy of disconnection is forever: Saying goodbye to Angela Paris

[Valeska and Angela Paris]

Valeska Paris recently posted a crushing note on Facebook about her stepmother, Angela. We asked her if she wanted to write a more lengthy piece for the Bunker, and we’re very glad that we did.

You know that wrenching feeling in your guts that doesn’t seem to go away, the grief in the pit of your stomach that just sits there, the tears that just keep flowing when you hear an emotional song or when you look back at the magic that a person that is now gone has given you in your life? The feeling that a herd of elephants are rampaging towards your heart to trample all over it? That is the feeling I have had since Saturday morning when I woke up to the shocking message that my mum, Angela Paris had died.

I don’t know much about my mum’s past before I met her. She didn’t talk much about it. All I know is that she found Scientology after having had her heart broken by a guy. She joined the Sea Org in the 70s. She told me once that she was assigned to the Religious Technology Center (RTC, the entity that oversees Scientology) when Vicki Aznaran had been running it, and that she was taken out with the rest of RTC by David Miscavige. Those are the only details that she gave me. When I tried to find out more she told me it was confidential and that she could not talk about it.

I will have to back track to make sense of how she came into our lives.

I was born in Switzerland in 1977. I have a sister who was born in 1979 and a brother who was born in 1982. My parents were unfortunately Scientologists when I was born so the “religion” was forced on us since birth. Our live was good. We were far from rich, not even middle class. We either lived in our own apartment or with my grandma when work was hard for my parents. My dad was a struggling artist. He had a studio that we used to visit where he would paint. My mom, Ariane Paris, was a nurse and she was the main source of income. When she became pregnant, especially with my brother who was a non-identical twin to a little girl who miscarried, she was unable to work and was bed-ridden for months. This caused a lot of stress, and my parents’ marriage became very strained. As children we were happy in Switzerland, we were loved by our parents and by our grandparents, and we were well fed and always had a proper roof over our heads. But most importantly we felt loved.

That all changed when my parents divorced in August 1984. It was a ball of confusion and we were told that we were going to England with my dad, who was joining the Sea Org. I was 6, my sister 4 and my brother was just 2. We did not have a choice. I remember saying goodbye to my crying grandma, who hated Scientology. I don’t remember the plane ride or the trip to Saint Hill, it’s a blank. I do vividly remember being at Saint Hill. It was in a country where I did not speak the language. My mom was there and so was my dad. There was a man dressed in grey who was pulling on my mom’s arm. She was in tears, and she came and told us she was going to be right back, she was just going to the Canteen to get hot chocolate. She was escorted crying her eyes out by this stranger dressed in a grey uniform. We were put in the back of a broken-down van with my dad and the van just drove off without my mom. I started crying my eyes out screaming for my mom, but she was gone. I had no idea where to. We arrived at Stonelands, a huge old broken-down stone mansion. It looked like a creepy haunted house. Most of the windows were covered in plastic or were just broken. It was freezing, and the smell was horrible. We were hustled into a big dining room with a huge hole in the ceiling and a puddle of water on the yellow worn out floor. We lined up and got our slop. It was inedible. We were then all put to bed in a single dirty soiled mattress to sleep on as there wasn’t room. I was awake that entire night throwing up.

The next day our life began in the Cadet Org. We were put to work while my dad went and started his Estates Project Force — the EPF was the Sea Org’s version of Boot Camp — and was gone all day and long into the night. We were no longer living with him. We were put in overcrowded dorms with other girls, and my brother was put in the overcrowded nursery. During the day we were put to work cleaning, and studying Hubbard nonsense. Crying was not acceptable. The nannies were horrible and bitter. There was no love.

We would see my dad at that time a couple hours a day for family time. He was so miserable from losing my mom that he would just talk about how he wouldn’t have been able to survive if we hadn’t come with him and how unhappy he was. He would then go to sleep as he was so tired from his long hours. We would clean his room to surprise him and try and make him feel better but we were miserable. I felt no happiness, I missed my mom it hurt so bad, I didn’t have my dad and the living conditions were atrocious.

We had arrived in September 1984. One day in early 1985 my dad became happy and was smiling again. It was nice to see. He then told me that he was getting married to a woman named Angela. She was the RTC Rep at Saint Hill. I was angry. In my mind stepmoms were evil, just like in Cinderella. I clearly remember meeting her — I was bitter. She had her own office with a bright blue carpet, and there was a cadet in there named Gemma Beale who was vacuuming. Angela saw me and gave me a huge smile and talked to me with so much love. I couldn’t be bitter and I couldn’t hate her.

She married my dad at the Saint Hill Chapel wearing a silk outfit that he had painted and made for her. We were the Bridesmaids and wore little burgundy dresses. She became our mum and we called her mum within months. She had no children of her own and due to the Sea Org she couldn’t have children, so she took us as her own and looked at us as her children.

She went out of her way to take care of us as much as she could on the crazy Sea Org schedule. At the beginning we still had family time and she would never sleep no matter how tired she was. She introduced me to musicals; she had records, and she first played West Side Story for me followed by Andrew Lloyd musicals, as well as others. She worked out getting child support even though that was not allowed. She got us a set of uniforms for Greenfields school. She would sometimes manage to buy us chocolate milk and would make these yummy blended drinks for us always with an egg inside.

She worked out getting occasional days off with my dad where she’d take us out into the English countryside on long walks, and would always bring a picnic. She was my second mum and I loved her as a mum. I don’t ever remember her getting angry — she was such a kind, gentle person. My sister cut her foot in one of the lakes at Stonelands and had to go to the hospital for stitches. Angela was the one that came. Two weeks later I did the same in the Stonelands swimming pool when we were cleaning out the broken glass, and garbage from it. You couldn’t see the bottom it was so dirty and I went in barefoot since we never wore shoes. I cut my foot on a bowl and was taken to emergency, I didn’t want my parents knowing as I didn’t want to get in trouble for not having worn shoes despite my dad telling me to. Angela arrived. I saw her and I was like oh shit, but she wasn’t angry at all. She sat waiting with me for hours, held my hand through the entire process of getting the stitches, let me bite her hand so hard when I felt the pain on the last stitch.

In 1987, around October, David Miscavige came to England for the International Association of Scientologists event. He was doing one of his stupid inspections. My mom was the supervisor in the Saint Hill Special Briefing Course room. According to Hubbard you don’t disturb students; it is under Suppressive Acts. But David Miscavige came into her course room with his little entourage and started talking loudly and disturbing the course. She went up to him and told him to stop talking and disturbing her students and that it was a Suppressive Act. Anyone who knows how the Sea Org works, with David Miscavige in charge, knows how much guts that would take and would also know that the consequences would not be good. Angela was taken off post in big trouble. She was put on the meter and interrogated under David Miscavige’s instructions. It came up that when she was young she had taken one antidepressant. Scientology hates psychiatry, so she was kicked out of the Sea Org. She started working at Greenfields school where we went. It was a Scientology school. It was great to have her there and to see her throughout the day. She was so good with kids.

She got a little apartment in East Grinstead which we would go and visit. She decided to get me braces and took me to the dentist. It was so good to have her out of the Sea Org, but it was short lived. In early 1988 an Amnesty came out for all Scientologists. She took it and was allowed to come back into the Sea Org. Recruiters came to her apartment and I yelled at them to leave her alone, but she came back. Back to Stonelands, back to the long endless hours.

Around 1990 my dad decided he wanted to divorce her. She fought so hard to not let that happen. He had an affair with a girl named Sonya Jones. They were talking about being together and they kissed. My mom was broken by this. Not only because she still loved my dad but because she didn’t want to lose us. She fought so hard to make it work and it did for a while.

In 1992 I went to Flag to visit my maman (biological mom), who was in the Sea Org. I ended up joining the Sea Org there and had very little contact with her or my dad or any of my family at that point. I was 14.

My dad left the Sea Org around 1993. He divorced Angela, but she kept the name Paris because of us. She was still our mum. That was never going to change. She got an inheritance from a family member that died, and she paid for my dad to get a lot of auditing. She also paid off his freeloader debt, which he got from leaving the Sea Org. She took a holiday and came to Flag to get auditing. she was staying at the Fort Harrison Hotel, and I would go and sleep in her room. It was short lived as Miscavige saw her there and had her escorted off the premises by Mark Yager and sent in a cab back to the airport to England. I was on the Exec Service lines and saw the whole thing. He was completely heartless and didn’t even blink twice at the thought of the effect that would have on me. I just watched and couldn’t even say goodbye.

When I was 16 I was given 12 days off to go to England with my sister and brother to visit our mum. And then my sister and I were going to visit my grandparents in France. Raphael my brother was already in England in the Cadet Org under her care. My dad was in Florida.

We got there and she had arranged for us to stay in a nice place opposite Saint Hill. I was relieved to not have to stay at Stonelands. It was Christmas time. We were there for five days and she took time off. She took us to the Christmas party at Saint Hill, she took us to Stonelands where we saw our friends, who were fellow Cadets. We did a lot of talking and had such a good time with her. So much so that we forgot that I had a plane to catch to go to Paris and spend a week with my grandparents. She drove me to the airport and we were singing musicals together in our horrible voices all the way to the airport to keep her from dozing off.

I was sent to England in 2005 on mission and saw her a few times, still in the Sea Org at Saint Hill. In 2007 I went there again and I was not doing well. I was in trouble. I was not allowed to give her details but she knew, she was there for me, she never judged me, she loved me unconditionally, she listened so well. She took me and my friend Alma out to dinner in a beautiful English town, she was selfless.

I went to the Rehabilitation Project Force — the RPF was the Sea Org’s prison detail — and I didn’t tell her. I was ashamed, but somehow she found out and she wrote me such nice letters, with no judgment ever. She sent me an Easter egg, which I was shown but not given as it was a privilege I was not entitled to have.

After a lot of years of abuse by the Sea Org I left in 2009. I talked to Angela on the phone a lot when I was routing out. Again, she never judged, she never made me feel bad about myself, she was not like that. My husband had a bit of money saved up and when I left the Sea Org I was given $10,000 to keep me quiet. I flew to England with Chris and my mother-in-law to see Angela. She was so amazing, she had rented a car for us, she had found a hotel for us to stay at. She took as much time off as she could. She was now in charge of the few children left in the Cadet Org. She told me she had been put there as she was a trained teacher. She got there because the person before her was locking up the kids in a closet as punishment and was not educating them at all. The authorities had come for an inspection and were going to close down the Cadet Org and take the kids away. My mum saved the day and made a program that she showed the government authorities and got approved. She had these check sheets made out for them and she actually schooled them, she used her pension money to take them on trips to London, she bought one of the boys a drum set as he loved to play. She was good to those kids and I told her I wished she’d been the Cadet Coordinator in my time. We were there for a week and a half. She took us to London and had booked the musical Les Misérables for us to see which was a magical experience. She took us to old castles, to underground bunkers from WWII where Winston Churchill had been, she took us to his house. We took long walks in the English forests.

She and I had a day with just us. We went and tried clothes on and had lunch. I was starting to wake up by this time and didn’t agree with forced disconnection. I asked her about my sister. Unlike my brother and dad, who blamed her for getting herself “declared” (kicked out of the organization), my mum said that it was the organization’s fault, that they had mishandled her and that she would always love her and was hoping she’d get back in “good standing.” She showed compassion in an environment where compassion was not allowed.

We went and saw my grandparents for a couple of weeks in France and then went back to England for a few days, she took us out to eat at a Pub where we had so much fun. The day before we left she took time off and bused all the way out to where we were by the airport and had dinner with us. That’s the last time I saw her. If I had known that, I would have talked a little longer, hugged her a lot harder and made sure she knew that I would always love her no matter what.

I wrote her when I was pregnant and she was so excited. She wanted to be a grandma so bad. But unfortunately, by the time Declan was born I had been declared, and I lost her, my brother, and my father. Not because I had spoken out — because I hadn’t at that point — but because I had connected with my maman, (biological mother) and my sister. That was not allowed, as they were Declared. I wrote Angela, but received no answer.

In 2016 for the short time that I was speaking to my grandma I found out that Angela had breast cancer. She was in the Sea Org, and she wanted to do natural treatment only. I spent more than two hours on the phone pretending to be someone else and making a stupid English accent to get through to her. I was lied to about her condition and where she was, but by persisting I finally got through. She got on the phone and I knew she could hang up at any time so I told her I loved her, that it was her daughter Valeska, that I knew she had cancer and that if she needed anything I was there for her. All she did was repeat, “I can’t talk to you, I can’t talk to you.” She didn’t hang up on me, she handed the phone to Cherly Laws, whom I had known for years — I was in the Cadet Org with her kids Eve, Adam, and Nelson Laws. I would look after Nelson when he was a baby and read him stories at night. Cherly told me I wasn’t allowed to call. I told her that it wasn’t right to enforce disconnection, especially between families. But it fell on deaf ears. I asked her to promise me she’d look after Angela and she promised. I believe she did.

On Friday morning I woke up to a message saying, “Angela passed away Monday. ——- just letting you know.” Someone on the fence had the decency to make sure I found out. My dad and brother did not let my sister and me know. I have forgiven my dad for a lot, but at this point I cannot forgive him or my brother for being so brainwashed in the inhumanity and lack of empathy that is Scientology. I will forgive them when it’s not so raw, but Scientology will never be forgiven for the destruction it has caused in my family, and continues to cause, as well as the countless other families it has destroyed.

My sister and I will not be invited to her funeral, in fact if we tried to go we would be escorted right out.

This is the tragedy we all fear, when a family member dies and you will never see them again, you will never have closure and nor will they. I’ve lost a mother who I won’t ever get back, my family and many other families and individuals have suffered years and years of abuse by this cult.

Fly high mum, I love you with all my heart unconditionally. I have painted this for you, it’s a scene from the musical Singin’ in the Rain. I know how much you loved musicals, as I did, and this reminds me of the night we sung our hearts out with our terrible voices driving to the airport in the English rain.

 

 
— Valeska Paris

 
——————–

Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,164 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 1,767 days
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 310 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 198 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,373 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,147 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 2,921 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,267 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 10,833 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 2,501 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,761 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,801 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,513 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,039 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,128 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,268 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,588 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,563 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 919 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,221 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,327 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 1,730 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,602 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,184 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,689 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,933 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,042 days.

——————–

3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on July 3, 2018 at 07:00

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Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2017 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Undergound Bunker (2012-2017), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…

BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of L.A. attorney and former church member Vance Woodward
UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists
GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts

Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Our non-Scientology stories: Robert Burnham Jr., the man who inscribed the universe | Notorious alt-right inspiration Kevin MacDonald and his theories about Jewish DNA | The selling of the “Phoenix Lights” | Astronomer Harlow Shapley‘s FBI file | Sex, spies, and local TV news

 

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