Trying to heal from something so personal as religious & spiritual abuse is a unique experience that varies from person to person. Besides being difficult for me to verbalize, it was a painful time in my life that I felt was impossible for anyone else to understand. It went entirely against everything I was formerly taught to believe. As strange & alienating as it felt for me in the beginning, it did get better with help.
The first rule of recovery from any kind of abuse whether it be drugs, alcohol, domestic or religious abuse is that you have to want to change. Badly. After admitting something’s actually wrong, you have to desire getting better more than the escapism of drugs or the security of sameness could ever provide. Leaving a religion I dedicated myself to wasn’t an impulsive decision for me. It began with a lot of sobering questions after some very disturbing betrayals which eventually led to addiction. Throughout this, the realization that I’d joined what I now consider a cult didn’t happen overnight. Problems this severe rarely do. The culmination of everything that I worked so hard towards was now reduced to something I just wished I could forget. But couldn’t. The process had to happen, I had to ask the tough questions. Like, why I didn’t know sooner or how could I just lose myself like that?
The answers are most often not what a person wants to acknowledge. That comes with the territory when leaving Scientology. Scientologists pride themselves on certainty. It’s built from a sense of “knowing” & attestation to their success stories. It’s not only strange as an ex-scientologist to discover that you have insecurities, but allowing yourself to focus any of your attention towards human vulnerability is a lesson on its own. That’s because it’s hard to get out of the habit of believing that when you do so, you’re doing something considered low-toned.*
Scientologists actually believe they’re more evolved, like a perfect & proficient version of what Scientology calls your everyday average “homo saps.” So when the moments of truth add up after the shock of leaving Scientology sets in, these admittances of not being superhuman can feel like being torn apart. That’s not an exaggeration, it’s like a death. Like a part of you has ceased to exist & you have to let it pass. I actually went through a mourning period. There’s a lot of the past that must be re-lived. Which is in itself very foreign because scientologists aren’t allowed to revisit the past unless it’s in session. We were only allowed to be “in present time” or in “PT” as it’s called. In Scientology, it’s anti survival to go within oneself to seek answers & other scientologists have no problem pointing this error out to another member of their group if they notice it. They live by the code of “the greatest good for the greatest number of dynamics”* mentality. Not the self. Its considered destructive to ruminate too long on yourself. The act of abandoning your private needs descends until there are really no personal boundaries left anymore between you & the other group members. This creates such a co-dependence on Scientology & the group that you all become enmeshed into one. A scientologist may never seek answers by asking it of themselves. For people who’re suppose to be so confident, they end up being incredibly reliant on what their friends think & seek advice on the smallest matters. Scientologists give away so much of their power by allowing the church to make life altering decisions for themselves & their families. They don’t go within. That’s called being introverted & that’s bad. It’s the extraverted scientologist that gets all the approval.
Scientologists aren’t very acquainted with themselves, to say the least. They don’t understand how empowering or satisfying it is to know themselves. There’s a Greek aphorism that says: Man, know thyself & you will know God. This is the exact polar opposite of what Scientology pushes. To focus solely on yourself or your needs is irrational to a Scientologist, but as a recovering Scientologist, it’s been instrumental in mending myself. I believe there’s nothing wrong with finding out who you are. Especially when you were a part of a belief system that never allowed anyone to explore the nuances of their individuality. In the beginning of my process, just figuring out concepts like this was so new to me that I’d feel an immediate change in how I perceived the world & my place in it afterward. I began to naturally distance myself from Scientology the more I allowed who I really was to come through, rather than the manufactured social cult personality I’d molded myself into in order to feel accepted by the group. Doing this was liberating to me.
Another very important factor in recovery for me involves the taming of behaviors that mirror the same negative attitudes of Scientology. When you’re being fair gamed it’s easy to become ensnared in their tactics. It’s seems justifiable to return fire & be just as cruel back to them, ridiculing them with the same exuberance they seem to enjoy in harming ex-members. I understand how hard it is to not give into the pressure to reciprocate their hate. But it’s a dangerous & pointless game that I can only win by not playing. So I don’t. For me personally, giving them any of my attention is a mistake. Of course, a mistake I’ve always learned the hard way but still regardless, I have learned. When I’ve seen it so obviously happening, especially on social media like Twitter, there’s nothing special to it. It doesn’t take skill. It isn’t worth getting sucked up into their insults & blame game. Besides, there’s nothing they can say to me thats my fault anyway. Not that they would, straightforward conversations aren’t their style & unlike them, I’m not entertained by gratuitous pettiness. But if something needs to be said, I’ll say it. If it’s important to me. There’s a huge difference.
I, in no way want to be a Scientologist anymore. So why would I act like one? Why would I want to think or argue like one? I’ve put a lot of work into stopping the automatic thought process that Scientology installed in me. Breaking the conditioning for me means I don’t care when they think they’ve gotten some extra points by trolling me on Twitter. I literally don’t care what they think. Since I’m not limited by an essential need to retaliate, none of it matters to me personally. They eventually run themselves in circles & I’ve gotten good at believing in myself.
It’s important to understand that there’s nothing wrong with anger. I was angry until I wasn’t anymore. All the different emotions come & go throughout recovery & everyone who’s left Scientology are all in different stages whether they’re aware of it or not. Even waffling about thinking maybe you’d be better off if you went back is perfectly normal at certain stages of recovery from religious abuse. What’s right for someone who’s in the last stages might not work for someone in the beginning stage. I feel like it’s my duty as an ex Scientologist to recognize that fact & not feel the need to tell anyone they’re wrong for feeling what they feel or expressing themselves in the moment. Allowing others to be who they are gives us that same right.
But lines get trampled over all the time though. Recently on Twitter, someone opened up to me that they weren’t a part of the COS anymore but they still felt strongly that some of the initial courses they took made a positive difference in their lives. I have also felt that way in the past. Those feelings for me have slowly faded over time as I’ve learned more & progressed in my recovery but I empathized with him. I read in an article on the subject of recovery that in its first stages it’s very natural for a person to be adamant about holding onto certain parts of their cult involvement that they believed was good for them or changed their lives for the better. It helps them segue from step to step until they’re eventually able to discard all the layers of instilled conditioning. I took the stance of protecting the person from a third party who entered our thread to make facetious & degrading comments to the person by using Scientology nomenclature that the person didn’t even understand in order to call him crazy. I don’t feel bad that I told them this was masked violence & disrespect. I encourage anyone else who shares this same commitment as myself who wants to help others heal rather than push anyone away from seeking help or feeling camaraderie. To instead let them know it’s normal. Because it is. In my estimation, the person had no concern with the idea of recovery or understanding it’s intricate but necessary process. Whether they agreed with what the person was saying or not, to me has no validity. We’re all different & should give each other enough space to be who we are. When Scientology is busy trolling ex members, to see people who claim they’re on your side behave in the same intolerable trolling manner, does no one any good.
I read that recovery can be like a rocket taking off into space. At first, it’s all that combustible, explosive anger & defiant energy that launches the metaphorical space craft off the ground. Eventually, the bottom part of the craft sheds away & the next rocket boosters kick in. It needs less fuel, less anger & now has the advantage of momentum. Using different emotions & exploring self analysis to propel the person through the process. Then that sheds away as well. Then finally, the rocket reaches outer space where its no longer bound by gravity & can be safely steered exactly where the pilots want to go. An all new feeling & experience. An entirely new construct of a ship now too. An all new & more capable person, less inclined to the unstableness of what leaving their cult life put them through. That’s what I’m working on & looking forward to. Flying.
*low-toned gets its meaning from Scientology’s example of what they call the emotional tone scale. The higher tones at the beginning of the scale are the happier emotions which to them have specific meanings & are considered the most optimal state of mind a person can be in. As the scale goes down you reach the lower toned emotions. This can range anywhere from anger to sadness or hate. For a Scientologist, saying someone is low toned indicates that the person is not experiencing or demonstrating a desirable state of mind. From there it takes on different meanings assigned to what those emotions are meant to be caused by.
*dynamics are respresented by the 8 dynamics all consisting simultaneously in ones life. The 1st dynamic is self. The 2nd dynamic is the sex or family dynamic. The 3rd dynamic is the group you belong to. The 4th dynamic is mankind as a whole. The 5th dynamic is nature. The 6th dynamic is the physical universe consisting of matter, energy, space & time. The 7th dynamic represents the spiritual essence & the 8th dynamic is usually called the God dynamic (although I never met one Scientologist who believed in God) or infinity.