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Growing up in Scientology, and growing together outside of it: An appeal

I wanted to open up a bit more about my experiences since leaving Scientology, and adjustments, some rather large adjustments, I’ve had to make. I hope this hits a note with other second and third generation Scientologists, and helps others better understand us.

I grew up in Scientology and spent many years working in the Sea Org and experiencing its deprivations before breaking free. There are many aspects to adjusting to life outside of Scientology. And for those born and raised in it, adapting to the outside world can take decades. For the majority, the struggle is always there.

When you grow up in Scientology, it’s the only culture you’re familiar with. You miss the normal stages of growing up, and some end up with deep feelings of shame, guilt, isolation, doubt, and confusion when you leave.

At a very young age — as early as 3 years old — child Scientologists are told that they are immortal beings and simply need to “remember” their past life experiences: They are forced to be adults while still quite young. Many children raised this way have parents who, supposedly with the best intentions in mind, don’t teach their children about the world around them. If their children are really ancient beings, there’s no need to teach them because they can supposedly remember it on their own.


That missing development is never regained. So you end up with an adult who secretly may feel incredibly lost.

Within the confines of Scientology (and the Sea Org), our lives had been dictated by a leader our entire lives (the leader in this case is Hubbard policy and bulletins, and his instructions and answers for everything). And now we have walked away, which has left a huge emptiness that we don’t immediately identify as such.

Sorting through Scientology and whether it is right or wrong is not the point of this piece, but simply looking at its long term effects on second and third generation members.

For those who left from the Sea Org, a much more strict way of life than the average Scientologist, the switch into the world can feel surreal, for years. Speaking for myself personally, I have been out for 14 years and I still catch myself in odd patterns. I feel nervous in certain situations, and I become terrified at the most innocuous questions from people. (Where did you come from? What college did you attend?)

We’re raised in Scientology to believe that we had become more aware than those around us. And so we drift around these “outsiders” who are unaware of what we know about life and the universe. It takes a while for this odd idea to dissipate for some. It can sometimes appear as arrogance to others. It takes a while (at least it did for me), to look at people and discover that they are kind, good-hearted, and well-intentioned people. Scientology made us believe they were all lost robots wandering earth until the end of time, and that only Scientology and Hubbard’s technology would properly “wake them up.”

Some common things that I ran into (and still run into sometimes), because of my decades in the Sea Org…

Food: In the Sea Org, one is supposed to be allowed 30 minutes per meal time. Many times we did not even get that. Some only had 5 minutes to eat. And if one had a smoking habit, which most did, only one minute to eat, and four for that cigarette. So after getting out, we still feel this rushed feeling about eating. We have no time, we cannot relax and enjoy a meal. It has taken me over 15 years to change this. I’ve slowed down some, but still I find it incredibly hard to relax for a meal. I’m still feeling a little rushed.

Sleep: In the Sea Org, we were lucky to be allowed eight hours of sleep. It was not too common. Many times we would be instructed to stay up until a task was completed. Sometimes that would end up being a week at a time. Once you did get that project completed, you would be allowed 8 hours at the most, to shower and rest up. For a few years after I left I slept poorly, because even when you managed to get home for rest, that didn’t stop someone from coming to your door and getting you out of bed for something or other. And there is no making up that sleep. It’s gone forever. I’m still getting used to relaxing and sleeping properly. Many friends have mentioned needing sleep aids. In addition to trouble sleeping, many (myself included) end up with graphic and vivid dreams from our time in the Sea Org. My own were often based on my many trips to the RPF, the Sea Org’s prison program. I wake up feeling exhausted and disoriented, wondering if I’m back in.

Days Off: In the Sea Org the only days off allowed are every other week, and only if you are upstat, meaning you’ve done well on your post and haven’t screwed it up. Getting two days off per week after leaving the Sea Org was incredibly strange. I easily lost track of what to do with the time. A normal requirement in the Sea Org was that you have to pass a white glove inspection of your berthing space before you can do anything fun. I still felt the compulsion to do that for years after being out. Now I am happy to take my day off, even if there is dog hair all over the house. (Ha.)

In the 1970s and 1980s, some Scientologists had home births and didn’t register their children. So when those kids grow up and find themselves out of the Sea Org, they have to go through the hassle of getting birth certificates as adults. And that can be especially time-consuming if your parents are disconnected and not cooperating. And having no birth certificate has all sorts of complications for other modern-world issues like applying for a job, getting a driver’s license or even getting a Social Security number.

Some ex-Sea Org members find jobs with Scientologist-owned companies. But when they leave Scientology altogether, finding a new job can be especially daunting. Besides the feeling of failure at not making that job go right, there is another inside terror of being “handled” or forced to stay. This too can add a burden and stress onto them.

Kids in Scientology are raised from a very early age to “keep their TRs in” — show no emotion. Bringing this out into the world can be confusing and upsetting. We don’t have or feel the normal reactions to a family death, or a person getting sick or being injured, or a pet being lost, or anything. In all of these situations, we were expected to express nothing. So when our feelings do come out, they do so in a heavy, uncontrollable flood that for some of us is too hard to experience and so we never, ever, ever go there.

Another aspect, related to “keeping one’s TR’s in” is our rights of privacy. We have never known our rights and so it never occurs to us to have boundaries. We find ourselves talking to strangers about very personal things about ourselves and think nothing of it at all.

Money is generally irrelevant for Sea Org members while they’re working around the clock for the church. So it’s a rude awakening when we find out how much it dominates the world outside. And we must learn how to manage it, and quick. And learn how much we need to make to survive, which can come as a huge surprise to many newly out of the Sea Org.

I remember the first time I applied for a credit card, I was 32. The man asked me, quite politely, why I had never applied for credit previously. I didn’t know what to say, so I said “I’ve been in a cult until last year.” He raised his eyebrows and gave me a friendly smile. I could tell I had said too much. He was so kind to say “So you dealt in cash-only transactions then?” Yeah. That’s it! We don’t have to tell our life story. There are simple and acceptable answers for such questions.

Our entire upbringing we have been hammered over the head about how bad psychiatry and psychology are. So imagine this adult, with lack of developmental progress from childhood, lost in an unfamiliar world, quite possibly full of untapped emotion and trauma, and having zero inclination to seek help. We want help, but the terror of therapy is enough for many to skip it. And so we spin in our own circles, trying to make sense of our lives from the Sea Org. For many it is quite a battle.

These set ideas also transfer (with some) into medical treatment, where there is an anxiety towards doctors and especially towards medication. Speaking for myself personally, it took a long time to accept that medications can actually help with illnesses, and ibuprofen can help a bad headache. From even the mildest possible medications to life saving drugs, they were all categorized as bad, and it was a hurdle in my mind I had to get past, and it wasn’t easy.

As my own two children grow up, I can’t help wondering what I was doing at that age. I must say that when my children were the ages my brother and I joined the Sea Org, that was absolutely, hands-down, the worst emotional year of my life. It was like the entire 32 years of being in the Sea Org crushed down on me every day that year. Getting through every day was so hard. I did not want to talk to anyone about it, or do anything about it. The absolute worst thing I could do was let myself run through and feel all the emotions that I had hidden for all those decades.

Thankfully with support, I was able to pull through this time period, but I still have reminders of my past with my own children growing up.

There are a select few ex-Sea Org members who have luckily been able to leave with all or some family members. These people are lucky, though I think that they too still find themselves working through tough issues — but at least they have each other to work through them. Some raised in the Sea Org as children are not so lucky and get out with no family. So we have a person with a head full of trauma and confusion, and zero family in their lives for support.

This is why we must be here for each other. No matter what. We have all been through something together. We have all had different experiences with it, but I think for the most part, we have all run into different levels of trouble and trauma as I have discussed here. We all recover in different ways and at different paces.

My door is open to each and every one of you. I know what you are going through. I have been through it. I still go through it. We all struggle every day. We are here for each other. With love.

— Sunny Pereira


Scientology’s celebrities and ‘Ideal Orgs’ — now with comments!

[Michael D. Roberts and the Dublin Ideal Org]

We’re building landing pages about David Miscavige’s favorite playthings, including celebrities and ‘Ideal Orgs.’ We’re hoping you’ll join in and help us gather as much information as we can about them, in order to build a record and maintain a watch as Scientology continues its inexorable decline — and yes, we finally have comments working on these new pages! Head on over and help us with links and photos and comments.

Previously, we posted pages for celebrities Anne Archer, Beck Hansen, Catherine Bell, Chick Corea, Elisabeth Moss, Erika Christensen, Ethan Suplee, Giovanni Ribisi, Greta Van Susteren, Jenna Elfman, John Travolta, Juliette Lewis, Kelly Preston, Kirstie Alley, Laura Prepon, Marisol Nichols, Michael Peña, Nancy Cartwright, Tom Cruise Danny Masterson, Stanley Clarke, Edgar Winter, Alanna Masterson, Billy Sheehan, Judy Norton-Taylor, Terry Jastrow, Eddie Deezen, Sofia Milos, Bodhi Elfman, Rebecca Minkoff, Doug E. Fresh, Christopher Masterson, and Justin Meldal-Johnsen. And for the Ideal Orgs of Portland, Oregon; Sydney, Australia; San Diego, California; Denver, Colorado; Nashville, Tennessee; Perth, Australia; Tokyo, Japan; Sacramento, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Silicon Valley, California; Rome, Italy; Orlando, Florida; Moscow, Russia; Amsterdam, Netherlands; Seattle, Washington; Dallas, Texas; Melbourne, Australia; San Fernando Valley, California; Pasadena, California; Bogotá, Colombia; Budapest, Hungary; Phoenix, Arizona; London, England; Orange County, California; Atlanta, Georgia; Auckland, New Zealand; Miami, Florida; Basel, Switzerland; Berlin, Germany; Birmingham, England; Brussels, Belgium; Buffalo, New York; Cambridge, Ontario; and Copenhagen, Denmark.

Today it’s Michael D. Roberts and Dublin, Ireland!


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,239 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 1,872 days
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 415 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 303 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,478 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,252 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,026 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,372 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 10,938 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 2,606 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,866 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,906 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,618 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,144 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,233 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,373 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,693 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 7,549 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,668 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,024 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,326 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,432 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 1,835 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,706 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,289 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,794 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,038 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,147 days.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on October 16, 2018 at 07:00

E-mail tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

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

Watch our short videos that explain Scientology’s controversies in three minutes or less…

Check your whale level at our dedicated page for status updates

Join us at the Underground Bunker’s Facebook discussion group for more frivolity.

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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