The Solo Course was taught at the American Saint Hill Organization in a large converted garage painted a stark white. There were no windows.
This was the first of the secret upper levels of Scientology, so I was required to buy a briefcase that locked and a dog leash to attach to the briefcase so that it would be attached to me at all times.
The Solo course materials were to be kept locked in the briefcase at all times except when I was actually on course.
On all the upper levels there was an implied rumor of danger. It was part of the Scientology mystique that if you did not do these levels correctly, you could die.
I showed up for my first day on the course, and was given a course pack to read, and as I started to read I found the materials quite confusing.
The idea seemed to be that everyone had in their mind, as a result of the implants received between lives, a series of electrical mechanisms called GPMs (for Goals Problems Masses). On the Solo course you were to audit these masses out of your mind by auditing long lists of opposites. For example, a Solo list might look like this:
Hubbard wrote in the bulletins about a particular implant station out in space called the Helatrobus Implant and it was this implant that we would be auditing out on the Solo Course.
We had to watch several films which went into a great deal of detail about these implants and about the GPMs.
I tried hard to understand what I was reading. It never occurred to me to question or disbelieve anything I was reading, because at this point I was thoroughly brainwashed to believe that if Hubbard wrote it, then it must be true. He was my infallible source, but he was more than that. He had become a sort of god to me. He was worshipped within the organization, and I learned to worship him too.
One day as I was sitting in this course, a woman suddenly started to scream. Her screams shattered the previous stillness of the classroom.
One of the instructors came over to her and put her hands on the woman's head.
"What's she doing?" I whispered to one of the other students.
"She's trying to get her back," he answered.
Back from where? I wondered.
Later that day, a list of names was read by the Course Supervisor. My name was on the list. I left the classroom with the others on the list, and we were told that there had been a policy change, that we couldn't proceed on the Solo Course without taking the Power auditing first. The cost of this auditing was $1200. I didn't dare call my father this time.
So I went back to work for Celebrity Center.
During the next two years, Yvonne would sometimes lend me to the other "orgs" when they were short of help. I did a variety of jobs. I sold books on college campuses, I went out on the street to find people who would come into the Org for the free lectures that were given every hour. We were told even to bring in drunks, as they would count as "stats."
Each week the statistics, or stats, from every job in the organization were turned in to the Sea Org, and they would analyze the stats to see where corrections, in the form of missions, needed to be made.
Whenever a mission came to an org, there was a lot of fear, because it was certain that someone's job would be in jeopardy and that person would almost certainly be sent to the RPF.
The RPF (for Rehabilitation Project Force) was the prison within Scientology. Anyone who flubbed up on his job, or whose stats weren't high enough, or anyone who became psychotic as a result of auditing (this occurred with a not surprising frequency on the upper levels) was sentenced to the RPF.
During this time period, the RPF was located on two ships that were moored in Long Beach. The cure for those in the RPF was sleep deprivation, and hard labor.
In 1971, while working for Yvonne, I suffered a psychotic break and I was sent to the ship. I don't remember how long I stayed on the ship, and I have vague memories of long hours spent studying, cleaning the ship, doing all sorts of enemy invader drills, and working in the galley peeling potatoes and other vegetables.
I was having a nervous breakdown. Of course, the Scientologists didn't believe in psychiatric treatment or hospitalization or medications. Instead, one was punished because it was believed that the illness was your own fault.
After I got off the ship, I started to work again, but it was obvious that I was not doing well. I was having delusions of grandeur and persecution. I accused Yvonne of being my enemy, even though she had never shown me anything but friendship.
At this same time, I had a brief relationship with another Sea Org member, and I became pregnant again, and was forced to have another abortion. I was learning to accept abortion as a form of birth control in my case.
Yvonne knew I was in trouble. She called my mother in Wisconsin (my family had moved from Michigan to Wisconsin) and told her to come and get me. I was being "offloaded" but I didn't know it at the time.
My mother did come, and we flew back to Wisconsin together. On the plane my mother tried in vain to dissuade me from my beliefs. She had been doing some research on Scientology and had newspaper articles for me to read, but I refused. I was too far gone. I was both hypnotized and brainwashed. It was impossible to reason with me on the subject of Scientology.
Back in Wisconsin, I spent time at home trying to readjust to life in the "wog world." This was the Scientology term for the non-Scientology world. It was a derogatory term.
As I had given away all my clothes, I had an immediate problem. My mother had a sewing machine, so for the first month, all I did was sew myself some clothes.
Then I decided to take a correspondence course in computer programming. I never gave up hope in my mind of returning to Scientology, and I knew I would need some money when I went back, and computers seemed like a good way to make it.
After awhile, I got a job at the University of Wisconsin as a data coder. This was a most amazing job. There were four women employed in my section. We coded the results of all the lab tests that were done at the University. These coded sheets were stored for seven years in a big closet, and then, after seven years they were thrown away. It was boring, tedious work, but I stayed there for a couple of months.
The year was 1971.
There was one other Scientologist in Madison, an elderly professor, and I soon joined forces with him and we gave lectures on Scientology at the local Quaker center to whoever would come.
One day this professor told me that an executive was coming from the Washington, D.C. Org to give a series of public lectures, and he asked if I could put him up.
As it happened, I had moved out of my parents' house, and had a small apartment with an extra bedroom, so I readily agreed to the professor's request.
The executive arrived, and his name was Richard Romejko. While he was staying with me, we had an affair. He asked me to come to Washington, D.C. with him, and to marry him. I said yes.
My parents were furious when I told them I was going back to Scientology. I think they thought that now that I had been away from it for a few months, I was safe. Nothing could have been further from the truth. I was by no means "out."
I packed my things, and flew to Washington, D.C. To my surprise, when I got there, I was told that Richard was on a mission, and they didn't know when he would be returning. I never saw him again.
I turned over what money I had saved to the Org to buy some auditing. When I ran out of money, I decided to join "staff." I was immediately given the job as the ARC Break Registrar. This meant that I had to interview people who had a disagreement with Scientology (known as an ARC -- for affinity, reality, communication -- break) and get them to come back into the org for services. It also meant interviewing people who had just come out of a lecture and signing them up for the first course, called the Communication Course.
Since the org was located in a bad part of town, north of Dupont Circle, many of the people I interviewed were street people and drunks, and I was expected to get them to put some money down towards a course, even if it was just a quarter. Every "sign-up" counted as a stat.
I soon got into trouble on my job. I found out that the executives at the Org were "falsifying stats." They would tell me to make up phony records for people who had supposedly signed up for courses.
Righteous person that I was, I wrote up a "Knowledge Report," and sent it off to the Sea Org, reporting my superiors for this crime.
When the Commanding Officer of the Org found out about this, I was promptly assigned to the RPF.
The rules of the RPF had changed. Now I was required to wear a grey rag around my arm, and no one was allowed to talk to me. So I spent my days in silence. I had to clean all the bathrooms over and over again. Then I was given the job of mopping up the basement of the adjoining building, which had flooded.
There were rats in the basement, and the water was a murky, filthy green. I was told they wanted to convert this basement room into a nursery.
The house I was staying in also had rats and I was sleeping on a mattress on the floor. It was a humiliating existence.
Finally, I had enough.
I approached one of the students on the course with whom I had previously become friendly, and I asked him if he would take me away from the Org. He agreed.
His name was David, and I stayed in his apartment for a couple of months. We had an affair, again using no protection and I once again became pregnant. I made arrangements to have another abortion. I came home from the clinic and was bleeding heavily and very sick. Meanwhile, that night David had decided to have a party. I remember lying there in the dark, listening to the sounds of the party and crying. What had my life come to?
On the basis of my computer experience in Wisconsin, I managed to get a job as a computer operator for a law firm in downtown Washington, D.C. I took the bus every day from David's apartment in the suburbs. I worked at this job for a year.
Meanwhile the Scientologists had decided that I could come back for services (auditing), but first I had to pay them $3000 for my "freeloader's debt." This was supposedly the cost of the auditing they had given me as a staff member. Before I could receive new auditing, I had to pay off this debt.
So, for months, all the money I earned at the law firm went right back into Scientology. I paid back the $3000, and I was given a clean bill of health by "Ethics," the branch of Scientology which deals in punishment.
I was unhappy working at the law firm, because I was working with another woman who was very mean to me.
I made friends with our IBM representative who came at regular intervals to inspect our machine. He told me that IBM was looking for people to work in their Atlanta headquarters.
I applied for the job and I got it. I packed my things and headed for Atlanta. I had withheld enough money from Scientology to buy a used yellow Volkswagen, so at last I had some transportation.
I drove to Atlanta, and started to work for IBM. I was part of a team which was developing software for the manufacturing industry, and the work was extremely boring. Nevertheless, I stayed with IBM for six years, until 1977.
There was a small Scientology center in Atlanta, but they didn't have any courses advanced enough for me. This center was called a Mission, and mostly offered introductory courses for newcomers to Scientology. After that, the people would have to go to California or Miami for more advanced courses.
But I kept in touch with Scientology. I got regular phone calls from Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles, demanding money. And I always sent what I could. I wanted to remain in their good graces.
I still wanted to "go Clear." I knew that it would take several thousand dollars to do this and thousands more to do the OT levels, so any money I could spare I sent to Los Angeles to be put into my "Clearing account."
During the years that I worked for IBM, I became obsessed with the occult. This was technically against all Scientology rules forbidding one from getting involved in "other practices," but I did it anyway.
I became very interested in the books by Edgar Cayce, and I devoured the stories of his past life regressions with patients.
I began to seek out friends and experiences that led me more deeply into the occult. I had a friend that taught me how to do astrological horoscopes, and soon I was doing horoscopes for all my friends at IBM, in the lunchroom at noon and during breaks.
I sought out psychics and visited them frequently. I remember one in particular who said I would have a very lonely life.
One psychic who had a small suite in the back of a shopping mall, sat and talked to me for three hours straight. Finally, after sitting that long and listening to his droning voice, I suddenly dissociated and separated from my body. As soon as that happened, he stopped talking, looked at me and smiled and told me I could leave. It was a strange experience.
I read every book on the occult that I could find, books by Jeanne Dixon, Ruth Montgomery, Jane Roberts. I frequented all the New Age bookstores and went to workshops.
I knew I needed some counseling, as I was again having the bothersome anxiety attacks. A friend introduced me to Jim Smith, who was a primal scream therapist.
I used to go to him, and we would lie on the floor and he would tell me to cry. Occasionally, he would put his hand on my abdomen and push down hard, in an attempt to get me to cry and scream.
I went to group therapy sessions where a dozen of his patients were all lying on mats in a big room, and everyone was crying and screaming.
I have to say in Jim's favor that he tried to dissuade me from Scientology, but I was still a Scientologist at heart, and I knew it would only be a matter of time before I returned to Los Angeles to do my OT levels.
While in Atlanta, I had an affair with a man named Jim R., who was an airplane salesman. The only trouble was that he never sold an airplane in the entire time I knew him. We lived mostly off my salary, or what was left of it after I sent my tithes to Scientology.
We were living free in the basement of the house of a friend of mine who was a psychic. Once this psychic had tried to put me in a trance and had then made a pass at me. I quickly came out of the trance.
Jim's three children would come over on the weekends and sleep on the bean bag chairs in the living room. I became very attached to his children and enjoyed spending time with them.
At this same time, I rented a piano and began to take piano lessons from an elderly teacher in Atlanta named Powell Everhart. When he found out that I was a Scientologist, he "fired" me as a student when he realized he couldn't talk me out of my beliefs.
Jim was under a lot of pressure at his job to sell an airplane. Eventually, when he didn't, he had a nervous breakdown. He became irrational, and began to follow me around town with a gun in his car. I became very frightened, and decided it would be best to leave town. I was afraid he would kill me.
I gave my notice at IBM and drove my Volkswagen back to Wisconsin where my parents were still living. Home again.
I was determined to get back to L.A. I had saved up about $20,000 in my account out there and I wanted to go Clear.
I went to the Madison library and looked up the names of computer companies in the L.A. phone book. Then I sent out resumes.
One company responded. They wanted to fly me out for an interview. I accepted at once. I flew to L.A. and got the job. I went back home only long enough to collect my clothes. I was excited. This time it would work.
Soon my dream would be fulfilled and I would be Clear.