Tuesday, October 16, 2012
The First Disconnection
My parents were introduced to Scientology through a front group named WISE. That is short for World Institute of Scientology Enterprises. They seek to recruit professionals who own their own practices into using Scientology Management Techniques to run their business.
These techniques are organizational techniques which Hubbard developed to manage his churches according to his specifications. WISE helps individual business adapt them to their own structure. These businesses are then required to pay royalties back to the church for using the techniques and furthermore are indoctrinated into Scientology. This eventually results in not only the business paying royalties, but also the individual paying for themselves to practice Scientology.
I found out recently from my Uncle, because my dad had not shared with me, that my father become immersed in Scientology rather quickly after some WISE seminars. He became somewhat of a poster boy. Before my dad, WISE was only in the dentistry and chiropractic fields. When they recruited my dad he became the first CPA firm to adopt WISE techniques. I am sure this appealed to my dad's ego while at the same time putting him under immense pressure to move forward with the services.
We lived in a small town called Mineola, TX. At the time there were only maybe tens of thousands of people living there. My dad's office was in Tyler, TX which had a population of maybe one hundred thousand. The nearest church to us at the time was Celebrity Center Dallas.
Over time my dad became close friends with a lady in a wheelchair. My family and I used to visit her a lot. I think her name was Kay or something like that. I had no idea why my dad had become close to her. She reminded of the medium from Poltergeist. I swear she looked just like her. Turns out that my dad had been borrowing tons of money from her to give to the Church. I have no idea how much debt he was in at the time, but by his own admission he has been living his entire life in debt since he was involved with Scientology.
His involvement in the church escalated quickly. I was a child and I was not privy to many details. I am not sure what tactics were used on him but from what I gathered from speaking to his brother, the church convinced him that his family were enemies, which is a common tactic within the church which I have personally witnessed. They told my father that his brother and mother were all evil and he needed to get away.
Get away he did. We ended up moving to Dallas and not too much later we moved to Los Angeles to be near the mecca of Scientology on the west coast.
My aunt had become involved in the church around the same time as my dad. It was almost like they were in a competition to be the most devout members. I am not sure how that came about, but I watched it happen as a child. I was just kind of rolling with the punches I guess.
Before we moved to Dallas I had seen my cousins and aunts and uncles less and less frequently. Eventually, we stopped seeing them all together. Then we moved to Los Angeles where years would pass between visits.
My immediate family and I had become more involved with Scientology during this time. I can remember going with my Dad, Mother, Brother and Sister back to Texas to visit. Things were strange between us. I don't know why exactly. From what I can remember more time was spent between my five family members than we spent visiting the family.
That was the first time we went to see my extended family in Texas. After that I ended up joining the Sea Org. My grandmother fell ill with leukemia during my stint in the Sea Org. It was nearly impossible to get time off. I had to ask my parents to insist that I be allowed to go visit my ill grandmother. I had one week. We went to visit her and came back.
She passed away after I was back in the Sea Org working and it is one of my biggest regrets that I was not able to attend her funeral. Church matters were more pressing in my family's sheltered life. My dad was interested in keeping his three children as far away from the evil influences of our extended family as possible.
During the week we did get to visit my grandmother, it was strange. I couldn't explain what I was doing to my family. How am I going to tell them that I signed up for a billion years to work 19 hours a day for the rest of my life? That I left all my high school friends behind. That I didn't even get to graduate and had to take an equivalency exam. That I wasn't going to college or living on my own and that I wasn't going to have a family.
I felt like an alien.
It would be almost a decade, after I had been forcefully removed from the cult environment that I could go see my family and have an honest to God conversation. I finally was able to reconnect with them on unconditional terms this year with open dialogue and without feeling so distant.
This was the first time I experienced a disconnection in my life. The pain, which was nullified while I was shielded by the Scientology bubble, still hangs over my head today. I have missed so much time with them.
Our involvement in Scientology caused my siblings and me to form skeptical and negative opinions about the rest of the family. It's a superiority complex that the cult mindset creates. Some alienation also resulted from having to lie about our religion to make it appear more acceptable to the rest of the family. As a child, trying to build complex lies is difficult and frustrating and as a result interaction with my aunts, uncles and cousins became challenging.
My immediate family had become a tiny bubble separated from the rest of the family and the world for that matter.
There would be two more significant disconnections in my life to follow.
In loving memory of Nana. I miss you.