My name is Joanna Cook, I am 25 years old. I grew up in Scientology, claimed it as my own when I was 16, joined the Sea Org shortly thereafter, found out I was unqualified, and worked from 16-24 trying to find my identity now that I could not be in the Sea Org. I volunteered with The Way To Happiness, the Volunteer Ministers, Criminon, a few OT Committees (OTCs), and finally worked for three years as a volunteer for Latin America or LATAM (defined as Mexico, Central America and South America) side-by-side with my mom, Mary Jo Leavitt [the LATAM IC], as her co-Stats IC, PR IC and, for one and a half years as the Compliance Reports IC, whereupon we (and the 9 OTCs across LATAM) worked in tandem to achieve the first – and as I understand it, only – “continent” in the world to complete the entire program! Because we didn’t make the OTCs fit the program, but rather validated what they were already doing right that fulfilled the purpose of the program, we obtained awesome, magical expansion and joy across the entire zone. It was the most beautiful experience I had ever had; I loved every person I worked with, and this ideal world promised in events seemed actually possible. But right at that high point, everything changed, and I went from being the most gung-ho person I knew (and one of the most gung-ho public as recognized by a huge stack of commendations) to a public utterly disaffected with Management.
So what the heck happened? Apparently, the OSA line to others is that my mom suddenly sprung a weird something-something and turned into a Suppressive Person (an “SP”, in the same class as Hitler) and corrupted me, too, which is so ridiculous that I was grateful for the people that disconnected from us, because they proved to have never been friends in the first place. Never mind that the Cont. Justice Chief told me my mother was not declared when I asked about it, yet I’ve been rumor-declared for failing to disconnect from my mom on a rumor. (That’s another story for another time.)
Actually, I had been disaffected momentarily here and there since 16, with my experiences in the EPF and various inconsistencies (between what things should have been and what they actually were) during my volunteering experiences. But every time I either wrote it up or brushed it off and assigned myself conditions, tried to figure out what I was failing to take responsibility for, etc. I thought maybe they were isolated incidences. I was also off for a year after some bad auditing, Clear-not-Clear, etc. But I “got over” all that.
In a nutshell, the straw that broke the camel’s back was my volunteer work with LATAM, because it proved these were not isolated incidences; I discovered that the people I was working with and loved got crushed because they refused to fundraise and simply wanted to disseminate, and this happened across an entire continent causing our zone to go from Power to Non-Existence in the space of a few months. After two years of trying to fix it internally, it just got worse. I was completely devastated that no one in Management actually gave a hoot about the people; they only wanted the money and the buildings. A series of situations (all covered in the reports of Mary Jo Leavitt) brought me to the conclusion that this was not the organization I signed up for, and I quit.
(note: those reports can be found at: https://markrathbun.wordpress.com/2009/10/12/new-ot-viii-mary-jo-leavitt-blows-the-whistle/
It was painful, because it momentarily divorced me from a huge part of my identity and for a while I wasn’t sure how to exist without it, and yet it was totally awesome, because I was finally free from a very suppressive situation.
After my mom submitted her Knowledge Report online, the DSA that “visited” her showed us a reference that stated if anyone attacked Management, they were attackers of Scientology, since Scientology and Management were the same thing. Well, in that case, the same is true on the flip side – anything Management does that draws ill will or bad repute to itself also brings ill will and bad repute to Scientology. Yet when we bring these points up, we’re spreading enemy line.
And that’s one of the issues Management/Scientology is attacked for, publicly – inconsistency. They preach universal human rights and yet their staff doesn’t get to eat or sleep until they make their quota? They are the leaders in knowledge about the human spirit but they can’t make up their mind as to what the state of Clear is or not? How come people are broke or desperate or in any way imperfect if they have all the tools to solve every problem known to mankind?
The cruel part is that Scientology, as the organization stands now, is like living in a snow globe world. It’s supposed to be perfect, but it isn’t, and the world outside is supposed to be within our reach but it isn’t.
The “ideal scene” is always beyond reach, belonging to someone outside ourselves, and nothing we can do allows us to grasp it, even for a moment. We capture fragments, promises, of it, like snowflakes that melt in our hand.
The Church has these snow globe events that promise a utopian world if only everyone had Scientology, yet we have to give up our right to our own life in order to “Clear The Planet”. Has anyone ever given a concise and definite definition to what that means? I’ve had staff intimate it means we cross the threshold of theta versus entheta on a planet-wide scale, so that it means people’s entheta gets converted Poof! with a wave of awesome theta overtaking everything. And this is achieved solely through the IAS and library campaigns (not the actual Scientology services, but promises of future services) carried on the backs of broke parishioners. So basically, it means that Clearing the Planet is making sure everyone has an abundance of theta except us, yes? Wait. Huh?
Yet we must continue forward, because the fate of the entire sector of the universe rests on each one of our shoulders. If we fail now, we’ve doomed the entire race of humans, and all thetans everywhere (even though we don’t exist in space or time) now and forever, to the worst kind of misery imaginable. Our children will grow up in a cruel, bitter world devoid of any succor, so instead they should join the Sea Org and given to a life of “service”. But it’s okay, because they’re salvaging the universe.
And yet we can’t progress on the Bridge; instead of the glorious golden contraption leading us out of darkness to the rich and bountiful place of Total Freedom, we have a strange tangle of wooden planks and rope that becomes a labyrinth halfway across the chasm with a recurring return to this place called Clear. If we manage to escape out of the labyrinth, we’re struck by lightning before we can take the next step across, and if we survive that, we discover the world at the end is another snow globe – a place that is promised, supposed to be perfect, yet just out of our reach – that will only happen if the ones who finally escaped the labyrinth can convince everyone else to cross the chasm.
And no matter how much we take a sledge hammer to the glass of our snow globe, bang our heads against it, consult auditors and ethics officers and even chaplains to understand why the glass won’t crack, it’s indestructible. That world that is supposed to be ours can never be ours, and it’s all our own individual fault we can’t attain it, and because of our individual failure, we’ve screwed it up for everyone else. It’s premeditated, and designed to drive people insane. And yet it’s called Scientology.
People are in quite a conundrum. Here they are, in the middle of a chasm, and the world they’re trying to leave behind was awful – it had fears, insecurities, needless doubts and pain and hopelessness, and yet the price to attain the perfect world free of all that is creating a constant state of those things. Then, they’ve got their whole family or their children or someone they love entangled in this mess and they can’t move back without them, yet they can’t move forward, and they’re stuck in this labyrinth that is slowly eating them alive or sapping them of sanity, and the fact that they feel anything negative at all is entirely their fault, or the fault of strange beings or past incidences or otherworldly phenomena that can only be solved by moving forward.
Yet anytime they think it might be possible to actually move forward, there’s punishment in the shadows of their hope, and after a while they instinctively will hold themselves back from hoping, or from trying, and that again is cause for punishment.
In essence, the game where everyone wins is now the hell where everyone loses. Even the snow globe ideal orgs, in their perfect buildings with the perfect renovations, are built on musical chairs (swiping staff from other places), extortion, in locations that are unwise, or for orgs that were financially struggling to begin with, or based in countries under tyranny… they are supposed to be perfect, but something about them just isn’t. And people who are aware, who are supposed to be the public we seek, will know it, and instinctively they’ll stay away. Meanwhile, the org itself will be destroyed because the multiple policies protecting it have been utterly violated, and its destruction will be the fault of the public and the staff who were supposed to make it go right.
This organization that calls itself Scientology has made a premeditated effort to lock each dynamic into Scientology, at the exclusion of any other entity. For instance, the 8th dynamic is apparently only understood when you have a total grasp of the 7th, which you can’t fully understand until you’ve reached the top of the Bridge. The 6th dynamic (which is constantly at war with us) can only be conquered through Scientology. The 5th can only be salvaged from nuclear war if we Clear the Planet. We’re supposed to Clear the Planet even though “Wogs” can’t or won’t read (like they used to, they need video explanations now or they won’t get it), can’t understand basic ideas without studying 18 volumes and numerous lectures, are drug addicts, 1.1, and generally not to be trusted. Seriously, they are rather pitiful creatures when compared to us Homo Novises. They have case that sprouts off, they compare Scientology to all these other awful and weird practices, and psychiatrists everywhere have convinced them they need psychiatric drugs when all they need is Dianetics. (Plus O/Ws, Sec-Checking, donations, attendance at events, Evil purpose checks, oh we’re not supposed to mention that; Dianetics solves everything, per our patter when we do the stress tests.) And groups! My gosh, imagine trying to find a decent group outside of Scientology. What with all the people below 2.0 and faulty/inefficient technology, and ignorance on how to run a business or get along with others… so it’s better finding work and friends amongst people who understand, and can do proper admin scales, conditions, etc. Then there’s the family, which of course can only be whole and happy if Scientology is being applied. We have marriage counseling, life repair for the wayward kiddies, ethics officers standing by, and staff positions available so no one has to go to college to get a worthwhile job. Not that anyone would want to waste time with college anyway. Any friends, relatives, etc. not Scientologists are advised to become Scientologists as soon as possible. And as for the first dynamic, well, that’s not important in the scheme of things, is it? Necessity level demands we do what is the greatest good for the greatest number of dynamics, and only by consistently acting along those lines and acting as a 3.5+ on the Tone Scale can one ever have any real happiness at all.
Naturally, the greatest good for the greatest number of dynamics means what is best for the largest number of nameless faces that will benefit by our campaigns to Clear the Planet. Savings, what’s that? What’s the point in holding out for a rainy day when the fate of the world is in our hands right now? My Golly, don’t you know we’re already too late? The Big Man has his finger on the Big Red Button in this very instant, and the psyches are all but ready to take over government and all the schools, and only the IAS and the library campaign can save the day. You don’t see the connection, you say? Off with your head! I mean, over to Ethics for you.
So one day you’ve had enough, and decide you want to walk away, but you can’t. You have no choice. Exactly, it’s called Blackmail. If you leave, you lose your family, your work, your group, your only chance at salvation, your reputation, you’ve probably already lost your house, but worst of all, you lose your identity. This is who you are, now, and it’s everything you are, so it has to be okay. Things will work out. Ron promised it would in his When You Need Reassurance. So if we just hold out a little longer…
And one by one the things that were important, that made everything worthwhile, fade away, and we free-fall in our chasm, trapped in a fractured snow globe world that’s left us so we can’t reach at all; there’s nothing left to reach for. It’s the ultimate betrayal in the name of help, the one thing this wasn’t supposed to be, not this time. Some people could shatter upon this realization, and close themselves up into a tiny little box way deep inside themselves, and pretend that just because they’re still breathing it means they’re still alive; or they can go into a fit of rage; or they figure they can commit suicide; or they can walk away. Sometimes we go through shades of all these stages.
But the amazing thing is that there is a beautiful world out here waiting for us, and it isn’t separated by titanium bulletproof glass. Identities that are our own, dreams, goals, friendship, family, joy, teammanship, help, exquisite moments, are all possible and graspable and they can be yours. No scarcity. No strings attached.
It’s an interesting journey reclaiming life after it’s been molded into a shadow of what life can be, and after the shackles of what can or should exist are broken and cast aside. There’s a whole world full of awesome and friendly people, of fascinating philosophies and ideas, of life and nature experiences to be had, welcoming you with open arms — yet these things were only supposed to exist in the confines of Scientology… it has to be experienced to be believed.
For me, it makes the painful parts worth it, because at least – at last – the pain becomes transient, and the lying doesn’t have to be a necessary part of living, and prosperity, joy, unfettered existence, becomes real.
I can keep what for me is good about the philosophy, and use it as I want to, and when I want to, and my life is finally mine to live.
I want others to enjoy the gains I’ve had, and I can finally say that without the little voice in the back of my head saying, “Gains, sure, but would I want anyone to have the experience that I’ve had? No!” Being half-in and half-out is awful; I lived that for 18 months. True, I had less to lose than many still “in”: I never accepted the derogatory term “wog” and had lots of friends and family not in Scientology; my family all called it quits individually; I had no boyfriend, children, relatives in the S.O.; my job was secure; and even though things were hard for a while and there were growing pains after leaving, I would do it all again. All the painful experiences over the past year, summed up, still doesn’t come close to one week of being in that organization, not able to communicate openly, fruitlessly trying to fix things, ramming against that snow globe glass, trying to understand what was wrong with me that I couldn’t grasp. That was true pain.
I want all my friends, and my comrades, to be free of that. You deserve a beautiful, rich, full life. I hope you can hold it in your hands, and know that everyone you love can hold it, too.