Los Angeles, I decided, was a city of contrasts. On my breaks from course, I would frequently wander down to Alvarado Street, to buy a twenty-five cent ice cream from the Jewish delicatessen on the corner of Alvarado and Eighth Streets, or to browse in one of the seedy discount stores on the streets bordering the park. The oppressive squalor of MacArthur Park was a revelation to me. Having been brought up in well scrubbed midwest suburbs, I had never been exposed to the legitimate poverty I was now seeing for the first time.
What irony, I would think each time I walked through the park on my frequent visits to have lunch or dinner with Antonio and Aileen in their small apartment on Lafayette Park Place. The park itself had a pristine quality, with bright flowering bushes in all shades of reds, oranges and yellows blooming unashamedly even in these winter months. Small ponds were laced with white bridges and the grass was a deep and healthy shade of green. But the park and the streets surrounding the park had become the skid row of Los Angeles. Hundreds of alcoholics wandered aimlessly on the streets, begging for the money to satisfy the demonic thirst possessing them. Bag ladies dressed in layers of ragged clothes passed by, pulling their shopping carts and carrying on monologues with invisible companions. The beauty of the small park was endlessly dotted with the figures of drunks who sprawled on the many benches of the park or who were lying on the ground sleeping off the effects of the previous night's binge.
Los Angeles, I later discovered, was most beautiful in the winter months when the smog was not as oppressive as in the late summer and fall. I loved the mountain ridges visible on the distant horizon which seemed to provide a protective presence over the city. I could see the ragged hills to the west with tiny homes nestled into the cliffs. When there was no smog, the city stretched clearly visible for miles in all directions, a seemingly infinite carpet of human habitation.
For the first few months of my adventure in Scientology, my world consisted only of the center, the park, and the apartment on Lafayette Park Place. Yet gradually, my universe began to expand. Occasionally Aileen would grant me welcome absences from course to run errands for her to the other nearby Scientology centers. Sometimes there were envelopes or messages to deliver to the executives at the L.A. "Org," the center on nearby Ninth Street where the Scientology "lower levels" were delivered to non-celebrities. The curriculum at the Org was similar to that offered at Celebrity Center: the lower levels of Scientology including Dianetics and the Levels 0 through Level 4. An auditor trained to deliver these levels was known in Scientology as a "Class 4 auditor."
In the lobby of the Org was a huge picture of Hubbard in his nautical gear, gazing out benevolently at all who entered the room. Sometimes as I passed through the room I would gaze back in reverence at the portrait, looking into the eyes that seemed to stare right through me. The portrait seemed so lifelike that I often wondered as looked up at my guru if he could read my thoughts or see into my mind as I passed. Did he, like God, know everything about me? I could feel a hundred withholds stirring in my subconscious mind as I passed by the all-seeing visage of Hubbard.
On other errands, I would be sent to the smaller but equally well kept building owned by Scientology on the diagonal corner from the L.A. Org. This was known as the Advanced Org, or "AO." It was in this building that the advanced "OT levels" of Scientology were administered. I was only allowed in the lobby of the building. Only those who were on the secret upper levels were allowed access to the rooms further inside the building. In the lobby, the "OT's" (people on the OT levels) sat silently, waiting for their next "C/S," instructions for their next auditing session. Everything in the AO was carried on in hushed tones that seemed to imply the presence of activities of extreme significance and secrecy. The staff at the AO were all uniformed Sea Org members. They saluted each other constantly, walked and talked with great briskness, and seemed to be filled with the great importance of their mission.
In contrast was the American Saint Hill Organization, or "ASHO," located several blocks to the north on Temple Street. In comparison to the AO, ASHO seemed somewhat disorganized. It was a much larger building in which Scientologists polished up their auditing skills on the weighty "Saint Hill Special Briefing Course," which had been developed by Hubbard at his mansion in England called Saint Hill. This course consisted of all the materials of levels 0 through 4 with the addition of hundreds of tape recorded messages from Hubbard. It was rumored that to pass the Briefing Course, a student would have to listen to 600 tape recorded messages of Hubbard each 60 to 90 minutes in length. A person completing the Briefing Course was known in Scientology as a "Class 6 auditor."
At ASHO two important courses were given, Power and Solo, which were the last levels to be done before a person could become Clear.
One day as I was doing an errand for Aileen at ASHO, as I sat in the lobby waiting for a message to deliver back to Aileen, I observed a curious event. Just off the lobby to the right was a door. I saw a uniformed Sea Org member walk up to the door carrying a glass of water and a small plate of what appeared to be bread crusts. The Sea Org member took out a ring of keys from his pocket, unlocked the door, and passed the bread and water to an unknown person on the other side of the door. Then he relocked the door and walked away.
I looked questioningly at the Receptionist who was sitting just across from me.
"Who was that?" I asked her.
"Oh, that was the MAA," she responded (which I knew to mean the Master at Arms, or the Ethics Officer).
"Who's in the closet?" I asked curiously.
"It's just someone writing up his O/W's," she replied in an unconcerned tone of voice. "He's been in there for three days and nights."
"Why would it take someone three days and nights to write up his overts and withholds?" I asked her. "How can someone have done that many things wrong?"
"Because he has to write up his whole track O/W's," she replied, beginning to be annoyed at my questions. "He has to write up all the overts and withholds he has had in all his lifetimes. Sometimes that can take days. He can't come out until the MAA is satisfied that he is totally clean. But it's worth it, because when he comes out, you will see a totally different person."
"I'll bet," I thought to myself, stunned by this practice. "What else do they do in the name of Ethics?" (Eventually, I was to know the answer to this question.)
Later I asked Antonio about this strange disciplinary procedure.
"Yes," he admitted, "sometimes it is necessary to be really rough on people. But the tech won't work on a person unless his ethics are in. If that's what it takes to get his ethics in, then that's what it takes. In the long run, it is really doing him a favor. When he comes out of the closet, he will thank the Ethics Officer for helping him get his ethics in."
I had to be satisfied with that explanation.
Whenever I went back to ASHO on an errand, I would always glance at the closet and wonder if anyone was inside writing up his O/W's.
Occasionally Aileen would excuse me from class to go next door to help prepare the lunch or dinner for the fifty or so people who ate at the house on Burlington Street. Unfortunately, that experience was to take away my appetite for many future meals. One of my tasks was to strain the milk for maggots. Another time I went through heads of lettuce that were filled with worms trying to salvage enough usable pieces for a salad.
On another day, Aileen called me into her office and said, "I want you to go help out at the nursery. They are short staffed."
I followed her directions as I walked the twenty or so blocks to a small windowless building on Franklin Street. So this is where they keep the children, I thought to myself, suddenly realizing that I had seen no young children in the weeks I had been in Scientology, even though I knew many of the staff were married. As I passed the fenced back yard, I saw a dozen toddlers wandering around in the dirt, clothed only in diapers. There was no grass in the yard, just several large trees surrounded by dirt. The children had no toys, and were playing with each other or using their hands to draw pictures in the dirt.
I went to the door on the far side of the building on which was a small blue and white sign printed "Cadet Org, Church of Scientology."
I was let in the building, and as I looked around I was greeted by a dismal sight. The walls of the rooms and the hallway surrounding me were painted stark white. The floors were a dull grey and dirty linoleum. There were no pictures on the walls, no decorations of any kind. Wandering in the hallways and in the two rooms I could see several dozen children dressed only in diapers and t-shirts. Most looked as if they had not been bathed recently. Several carried bottles, but most were just wandering in the hallway or sleeping on the bare floor. The rooms were bare of furniture and there were no toys, books, or any of the normal and familiar signs of childhood. I could smell urine in the room, and I heard many small voices crying plaintively. A young girl in a Sea Org uniform came up to me and greeted me. She was one of two staff members in charge of all these children.
"Where do you keep their toys and books?" I asked the young girl, whose name was Colleen.
"They don't have any," she answered in an expressionless voice. "Children are down statistics, and you don't reward down statistics. That's in the tech."
"But what do they do all day?" I asked her noticing that many of the children had a forlorn look about them. I had a sudden instinct to grab as many children as I could and run out the door.
"We just watch them. They play in the back yard. If their parents' stats (statistics) are up, they can come and see their children for a hour or so after dinner."
"Do they sleep here?" I asked her.
"Yes, most of them do." She showed me a room further down the hallway. In the room were rows of cribs, side by side, about a dozen in all in the small room. "Some of the Sea Org children stay here, and some are sent to a ranch in Mexico if their parents are going to be on a mission for a long time," she explained.
"But don't the parents miss their children?" I asked.
"Remember," she told me severely, "children are part of the second dynamic. The third dynamic (the group) is more important than the second dynamic. The rule in Scientology is `the greatest good for the greatest number of dynamics.' Our main purpose in Scientology is to clear the planet. Don't ever forget that. Until the children can begin to work for the group, they are downstats, and they can't be rewarded. Besides, Hubbard says that children are just thetans in small bodies. They are just as responsible as adults. We have to get their ethics in. So we don't reward them until they can produce."
At that, she led me into a back room in which there was a solitary playpen. In the playpen was a tiny baby, female and horribly deformed. Her face was grotesque and distorted and her body twisted. One leg was shorter than the other, and her arms were abnormally short and not properly formed. "This is Lisa," Colleen informed me. "Her mother is on staff. She took LSD when she was pregnant." She bent over the edge of the pen and stroked the baby's head. The baby seemed to be having trouble breathing and her eyes looked clouded.
"She's blind, but she can hear you. We just talk to her and hold her. But I don't think she's going to live very long." Colleen reached down and picked up the poor creature and handed her to me. I spent the rest of the day holding and walking with baby Lisa. I walked around and tried to make contact with some of the other children. They crowded around me, desperate for attention.
At the end of the day, I left the building and walked home, numb with the shock of what I had seen during the day. From that day, whenever I received any money from home, or had any money left from my meager Sea Org pay, I would walk over to the drugstore on Alvarado Street and buy cheap children's books or crayons for the children of the Cadet Org.
I returned to the Cadet Org several days later for another babysitting shift and was told that baby Lisa had died two days earlier.
Another interesting experience in Scientology was my first payday. In Scientology there is the practice known as "graphing one's stats." For every post in Scientology there is an assigned statistic. For example, the statistic, or stat, for an Ethics Officer might be number of ethics "cycles" handled hourly. The statistic for a "letter registrar," the person who writes letters to the public, might be the number of letters written per hour. The stat for a student might be number of points on course per hour (each activity on every Scientology course is awarded a certain number of points). Scientologists graph their stats by the hour, the day and the week. Each Thursday, promptly at 2:00 PM, every Scientology staff member has to turn in his or her stats for the week to the division of the organization known as Inspection and Reports, or "I & R." Then each staff member is assigned a "condition" for that week. The staff member must then apply the appropriate formula during the following week to move up to a higher condition and better his stats. Theoretically, a staff member in Scientology is expected each week to better his stats from the previous week. If he does not, he will be assigned a "lower condition" which he then must "work out of" by performing even more work, sometimes of a menial and demeaning nature.
On Friday, after all the stats for the week have been tabulated, staff members who are not in a lower condition for the week receive their pay. The pay is calculated is as follows. First, the gross income for the week for that particular org is computed. Ten percent of the G.I. is then siphoned off the top to be paid to "World Wide," the international headquarters of Scientology in Europe (at least this was the practice during the years I was in Scientology). Then the expenses of the organization for that week are paid. The remaining money is allocated to payroll and is paid out according to a "units system."
Each job, or post, in Scientology is allocated a certain number of points, or units, executive positions earning more points and the more menial jobs, such a switchboard operator, less points. The net income for the org is then allocated to the staff in that org in proportion to the units for each post. In my post as a Dianetics auditor in training (my unofficial post as an aide to Aileen not being recognized for the purposes of pay) I had a fairly minimal number of units.
On payday, Friday, we all lined up outside the center and waited for the Director of Finance to show up with our pay. A mobile canteen unit had drawn up into the parking lot, I noticed, to take advantage of our weekly affluence. I waited in anticipation for my first Scientology pay. Having been without income for some time, I had a list of priorities to satisfy with my pay, ranging from toothpaste to an unaccustomed dinner out at a local diner with fellow staff members.
Finally the finance person appeared with a box of small brown envelopes. The names were called one by one. I waited eagerly. I had worked hard my first week in the Sea Org, an average of sixteen to eighteen hours a day for seven days, with two and a half hours off on Saturday for "personal time." Finally my name was called. I reached for my envelope. I opened it up and found a receipt and money enclosed for exactly two dollars and eleven cents. I stared in disbelief. Maybe there had been a mistake? I went up to the finance officer.
"I only got two dollars and eleven cents," I stammered to the uniformed officer. He took the receipt from me and looked at the figures. "No, that's right," he assured me. "It was a slow week. But according to your units, that is the correct pay. Maybe next week will be better." He handed me back the receipt.
I walked away feeling deflated. My plans for shopping, for dinner with friends, faded into the sunset. I looked over at the canteen. I walked over, selected a sandwich and a can of soda. "Two dollars." The canteen owner reached out his hand toward me for the money. Oh well, I thought, handing him the money. So much for payday.
In the several years that I was to work for Scientology, the highest pay I ever remember receiving was eleven dollars and twenty cents. "How do you survive?" I asked another girl who was on staff. She looked at me and laughed. "Some of us work as topless dancers," she told me. "At night, after hours. It's the only way to get along on this pay."
I was suddenly conscious of my chronically somewhat overweight body. I sighed. I would have to find another way to survive economically. For the moment, though, I went to the phone and placed a collect call to my father. Maybe he could increase the small allowance he had been sending me to help with my "studies."
During the weeks that followed, I would occasionally receive small checks from my father which I could cash in the finance office. With these small windfalls, I could occasionally afford to go with the executives and more highly paid staff members to have dinner at the small diner right behind the L.A. Org. It was always a treat to enjoy the comraderie of friends and the luxury of dining away from the staff house.
Mounted on the wall in the diner was a small black and white television. We usually arrived at the diner just a few minutes after six o'clock, just as the new science fiction program, Star Trek, was being broadcast. However, I soon discovered that Scientologists watched this program from an entirely different perspective than did "wogs." ("Wog" is the Scientology term for non- Scientologists, taken from an old English expression, an acronym for "worthy oriental gentleman," a derogatory term used to refer to the non-English natives of the British colonies).
"It's just old space opera," one staff member joked as we watched an episode. "They don't know it, but they're really just running their own track (time track)." What he meant was that the events on the program were actually real events that had happened long ago. The Star Trek writers were just "remembering" events in their own distant past. Events which were common to us all. To a Scientologist, this program had a special relevance. To us, this program was our history.
The days in the Sea Org became weeks. Christmas came and went. To me it seemed a surreal experience to have warm weather on the day of this traditionally winter holiday. I discovered that Christmas was just another day in the week to Scientologists. As a Christian holiday it had only token significance. We did have a special dinner served in the center buffet style. There were some cheeses in the center of the table that we were told had been sent expressly by Hubbard, to reward us for our dedication and loyalty as staff members. I felt grateful.
After the dinner, we returned to course. The rest of the day was just another day in the Sea Org.
One day, not long after Christmas, Aileen asked the Course Supervisor to excuse me from course. I followed her into her office. There sat a familiar figure.
"Dad!" I exclaimed in surprise, "what are you doing here?" He shook my hand awkwardly. We were not given to displays of affection in our family. He was on business, he explained, and decided to come and see my "school." I noticed that he was carrying his briefcase.
"Well, do you like it?" I asked him expectantly.
"Everyone is certainly friendly," he answered, glancing uncertainly at Aileen. "I was hoping I could take you out to dinner."
I looked at Aileen. "Of course, dear. Go with your father and have a good time. I'll get you excused from course."
I took my dad to the diner, not knowing any other place nearby to eat. He looked worried.
"Your mother and I have been reading about this Scientology," he told me. He took some newspaper clippings from his briefcase. "Here. I want you to read these."
I picked up one of the clippings. It was from Time Magazine. The writer was obviously biased against Scientology. In the article Scientology was called a cult.
"Scientology's not a cult," I informed my father. "It's just a group of people trying to make a difference in the world. This writer obviously didn't talk to anyone in Scientology or he wouldn't have written these things." I handed the article back to him.
"Well, there are other articles," he handed me several other articles. I looked through them. The orientation of the writers was obvious.
"Dad, this is just entheta," I told him, remembering what Hubbard had taught about this kind of journalism on one of his tapes. "That means it is against theta, or goodness. We're not supposed to read this stuff," I told him coldly, pushing the articles back to his side of the table.
"But just read some of them," he pleaded with me.
"I don't need to read them. I know what they say without reading them. They are written by the suppressive press. These writers are paid by their bosses to write this stuff. They want to destroy Scientology because it works. There are vested interests in this country who don't want to see Scientology expand. It is a threat to them because they want to enslave people and Scientology is in the business of freeing people." Out of my mouth were coming the phrases I had heard over and over on Hubbard's training tapes.
"You are in a dangerous cult," my father argued with me. "We want you to quit this foolishness and come home. That's why I am here. I have come to get you and to take you home."
I looked at my dad with disbelief. He was beginning to sound like a Suppressive Person. A very unpleasant thought began to form in my mind. Could it be possible that my dad was an SP?
"How does Mom feel about this?" I asked him.
"She totally agrees. We both want you home. You can go back to the university. If you come back now, you can still enroll for the spring semester." He was looking at me hopefully.
"I don't want to come back. I don't want to go back to school. This is where I belong. I have a job here. I am helping to Clear the planet. There is nothing on this whole planet more important than Scientology. These writers are wrong about Scientology. Scientology is the only hope on this planet that any of us have." I was beginning to get desperate. Could my father force me to go back with him?
"No, you are wrong," my father said, beginning to sound angry. "This Scientology is nonsense. You are in a cult. And I am going to take you home. I want you to get your things and come with me. I have a ticket for you to come back with me to Michigan." He pulled the ticket from his pocket. It was made out in my name.
I started to cry. "Dad, I can't come back with you. I don't care what you think about Scientology, you just don't understand. You can't tell me what to do anymore. I'm eighteen. Scientology is my life. I've signed a contract to work here and I'm not leaving."
"What kind of contract?" he asked suspiciously.
"A Sea Org contract. I signed a contract to work for the Sea Org for a billion years. We're going to clear the planet. Then we're going to clear all the other planets in the universe. Scientology is the first chance in millions of years for us to be free. And I'm not going to mess it up. There's nothing in the world out there that I want to do. How could I go back to music school when I have a chance here to help with something really important?"
He looked at me with a combination of exasperation and disbelief. "How can I get you to see the truth about what you are involved in?" he asked me. "Can't you see the absurdity of what you are saying? A billion year contract? Clearing the planet? This is nonsense. You need to come to your senses." Now he was really sounding angry.
"Dad, I'm not coming back with you. I'll have dinner with you and talk to you, but I'm not coming back to Michigan. And you can't make me." I was not about to give in.
He stared helplessly out the window. Then he turned to me and started speaking in a kinder, less angry voice.
"Look, I know we have never shown much affection in our family. But you know that we love you. We care about you. Why do you think I came all the way out here to see you? We all care. Your brothers and sister miss you too. We all want you back home."
"And what will you do if I don't come?" I asked him.
"We'll try something to get you back. Legally. We'll fight. We'll sue this cult if we have to. We're not going to give you up to some harebrained cult," he threatened.
Now I knew the truth. My father was an SP. Hubbard had made it clear. I had read all the teachings on the Suppressive Person on the course. The basic crime of Suppressive Persons was to attack Scientology, the only force for good and reason on the planet.
I had read about this in the Ethics book. The Suppressive Person was also called the "anti-social personality," or the "anti-Scientologist." "There are certain characteristics and mental attitudes which cause about 20% of a race to oppose violently any betterment activity or group," Hubbard had written. Such people, he said, cause untold trouble for betterment groups such as Scientology. "The anti-social personality supports only destructive groups and rages against and attacks any constructive or betterment group." Of course, I thought. My father works for the government. According to Hubbard, the government is completely suppressive. I had listened to tapes where he had told us all about the suppressive agencies in the federal government: the IRS, the FDA, the FBI, the National Institute for Mental Health. The government, explained Hubbard, was a suppressive organization that controlled this country. But the real truth was that behind this government was an invisible government that most people didn't know about. It consisted of a secret group of twelve extremely powerful men who were the real source of power in the world. They were particularly connected with the World Health Organization in Europe. And they pulled the strings that ran this country. And the people who worked for the government, like my father, were just minor suppressives that were attracted to this kind of work because it was consistent with their real inner evil natures.
I stared at my father with amazement. My eyes were being opened. Now I understood why there had been so much trouble in our family. My father was, as Hubbard put it, a "blazing SP."
"Look, I'm not coming home. And I don't want you to cause any trouble for Scientology. That would just get us both in trouble." I looked at him coldly. I got up from the table. "I'm going back to the center. I can't stay here with you. I'm sorry you wasted your trip but you did that on your own determinism, and I can't take responsibility for it (more Scientology-talk)."
I walked out the door, not looking back at him.
I ran back to the center, and burst into Aileen's office. "Aileen, my dad is threatening to sue Scientology. He says it's a cult. He wanted me to go back home with him," I said, obviously upset.
She looked at me, concerned. "Why? What happened? Tell me exactly what happened and what he said."
I related the whole event to her. She looked troubled.
"I'm afraid I'll have to write up a knowledge report about this," she told me. "It seems that your father could be a source of trouble for us. You'll have to work this out with Ethics. And until it's handled, I'm afraid you won't be able to go back on course. But the first thing that you need to do is to go and report everything that has happened to the MAA."
She pulled a routing form out of her top drawer. At the top it said, "Ethics Routing Form."
Several minutes later, I sat in the chair opposite the teenage Ethics Officer, telling him the same story I had told Aileen.
"I would like to indicate that your father is a Suppressive Person," he looked across the desk at me as if I were infected with a deadly virus, "and the policy on suppressives is very clear." He handed me a policy letter written by Hubbard. I read through it carefully. The policy on suppressives, according to Hubbard, was to "handle" or "disconnect."
"What does that mean?" I asked the young boy sitting across from me. Wrong question. "What word don't you understand?" he looked at me with emotionless eyes.
"I understand the words. I just don't understand what I'm supposed to do," I said.
"Very simple. Either you handle your father. That means to the point where he is willing that you continue in the Sea Org, or you will have to disconnect from him. You will have to send him a disconnect letter."
"Disconnect letter?" It sounded ominous.
"Yes. I can help you write it. You will tell him that you want no contact with him or with the rest of your family now or at any point in the future. You will formally disconnect from your suppressive family. And until you handle the situation in one way or the other, you won't be allowed back on course. That's policy. I'm going to give you twenty four hours to make your decision. You are to report back to me at this same time tomorrow." The policy, I realized, was black and white. Like everything else in Scientology. There was no room for feeling. Not that I minded the lack of emotion with which this and similar situations were handled in Scientology. I had already done enough TR 0 bullbaited to not feel much about anything. But to tell your parents goodbye forever.... I squirmed inwardly at the thought. Yet I believed in the policy. I was already conditioned to believe that if Hubbard said it, it must be right. I knew that Hubbard's way would always be the best and most rational solution because he was "Source." In just a few short weeks, Hubbard had already assumed occupancy of the place in my mind allocated to Father, or Dad. He loved me, I believed, even more than my own father did. He was father to us all.
I walked back to the house, having been barred from the course until this problem was resolved. I thought of my dad. He'll be home in a couple of hours, I thought. I'll call him and maybe he'll be more reasonable. Maybe he can be "handled."
But in my mind the decision had already been made. My father had taken on the color of the enemy. I no longer thought of him as father. All these years, I thought, I had been living with an SP and not known it. This explained all the conflict in my family. And by virtue of being married to an SP, my mother was by (Scientology) definition a "PTS," or Potential Trouble Source. And both of them were now endangering my Scientology career.
If they didn't agree to back off, I thought, I will have to disconnect. I have to get back on course. Already my stats for the week are crashed, I thought dismally, wondering what ethics condition I would be assigned for the week.
I lay on my bed, thinking back over all the years with my father. I thought of the twelve characteristics Hubbard lists in the Ethics book as being characteristic of an SP.
"1. He or she speaks only in broad generalities." Yeah, I thought, my dad is always talking about "they this" and "they that.
"2. Such a person deals mainly in bad news, critical remarks, invalidation and general suppression." Bullseye, I thought. My father had a definite tendency to be critical. I thought of all the times he came home complaining about his co-workers, criticizing what they had done during the day.
"3. The anti-social personality alters, to worsen communication ... passes on `bad news.'" Again I thought of times when my dad told us less than flattering stories about the "imbeciles" he worked with.
"4. He does not respond to treatment or psychotherapy." Once, I remembered, my mother had tried to get my dad into counseling to work on their marriage and he refused to go.
"5. Surrounding such a personality we find cowed or ill associates or friends who, when not driven actually insane, are yet behaving in a crippled manner in life, failing, not succeeding." My mother is always sick, I thought, and what about my problems. And my sister is always having trouble in school.
I didn't need to read any further. There was no doubt in my mind. My dad was an SP. And now he was trying to interfere with me trying to help Scientology clear the planet. I began to feel angry. I'm not going to let him do this to me, I thought. I'm going to get ethics in on my family. If I have to disconnect, then that's what I'll do.
I waited for the hours to pass. I was dreading the call. Finally I walked down to the convenience store a couple of blocks away and placed the call. My mother answered the phone. She sounded cheerful. "Hi, dear. We were just thinking about you."
"Is Dad there?" I asked her coldly. I knew what I was up against. My mother had no idea of the situation she was in, that she was PTS to a deadly SP.
"Yes, he just got in. I'm so disappointed that you didn't come back with him. But you need to know that we love you and we'll always be here for you."
"Could I just talk to Dad?"
He came on the line. "Margery, we're not going to give up without a fight. You tell Scientology that they will hear from my lawyer. I'm not going to stand for this nonsense."
"OK, Dad. I'm sorry you feel that way. Tell Mom goodbye for me," I said, then quickly hung up the phone.
There's no going back now, I thought. I went back to the house and spent a sleepless night tossing to and fro, my sleep haunted with nightmares about my father. In one dream, he had a gun and was standing outside the center shooting through the windows.
The next morning I walked over to center and went directly to the Ethics office.
"I need to disconnect from my family," I stated calmly. "There's no hope of ever dealing rationally with my father. He's insane on the subject of Scientology. Hubbard was sure right about SP's. They hate what we are doing to save this planet."
"So what do I have to do?" I looked across at the teenage Master at Arms.
"Here's what you have to write," he replied, handing me a blank sheet of paper and a pen. He began to dictate. "I am writing to notify you that I hereby disconnect from you." He paused as I wrote. "I want no further contact with you at any time or under any circumstances. This decision is irrevocable." I wrote down exactly what he said.
"Now sign it," he commanded. Then he handed me an envelope. "You can make this out and we will mail it for you."
I addressed the envelope.
"That's all there is to it," he said matter of factly. "I will give you a form to get you back on course. You're going to have to push to get your stats back up."
"I know," I answered. "But I'll do it. Thursday is still three days away." I walked back to the courseroom. Just like that, I thought. I tried to comprehend the fact that I would never see or write to my parents ever again. Somehow, it didn't seem real. I couldn't quite imagine life without mom and dad to fall back on.
"Well, I guess I'm on my own now," I thought. "I know I did the right thing. I just wish I felt better about it."
For a moment I had a fleeting thought to run back up the street to the store to call my dad and ask him for the ticket back home.
But I quickly pushed the thought from my mind. "Family," I thought to myself, "is the second dynamic. The Sea Org is the third dynamic." Then I repeated to myself the phrase I was to hear many times in the coming years. "The greatest good for the greatest number of dynamics," I thought. "Scientology must survive. My relationship with my family is not important. All that is important is clearing the planet."
I can't think about them any more, I told myself as I approached the center. They are no longer my family. Scientology is my family. And this is my real home.
I walked resolutely into the courseroom. I was more determined than ever to do well in Scientology.
I didn't think about my family again for a long time. I read the letters from my mother that would arrive periodically at the center, but I would throw them in the trash, feeling no emotion whatsoever.
I had passed my first initiation.
I was now a real Scientologist.