Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Long Awaited Story of...My Brush with Scientology!

So, you ask, how does an innocent little Mennonite farm girl get mixed up with the Scientologists?

Easy. I was sick. They, believe it or not, helped me. And I got out alive, unmarried to Tom Cruise, and still in control of my own brain.

D'oh! Weren't expecting that, were you? It's okay. I'm NOT a part of their Big Fan Department.

I was a sickly teenager. Part of it had to do with a few pinched nerves in my crooked little spine causing me some back aches and belly aches and headaches, but I also had a total lack of energy by the time I hit 15. My parents were beside themselves trying to find a doctor who could pinpoint what was going on. To this day we really aren't 100% sure what was going on, but now I chalk it up to me just not being a very physically strong constitutioned kind of person. Not very mentally or emotionally strong either but hey, I'm still half decently charming. We suspect that growing up in an agricultural area, breathing in pesticides, may have had something to do with it. D'ya think????

A local salesman who was heavily into all things organic and natural, and who went way back with my folks, hooked us up with a clinic in Toronto which specialized in detoxification. We were desperate. By this point I wasn't even going to school anymore. I remember getting out of bed, slowly, then getting something to eat and brushing my teeth before finding myself totally exhausted. This had been building up for years, but the last two months of 1986 had gone frighteningly quickly; in September I hopped on the bus with my sister and my boyfriend (Yep, that's another story) and had been quite normal. By November I was barely moving.

The detox program was a last ditch effort. Get her all cleaned out and start all over. It was called the Purif Clinic. We had no idea who ran it. We just wanted me to live.

I should add that my Dad had already dealt with a nasty little skin cancer problem a few years before. I feel that I have full rights to believe in poison free farming. My sister and mother seemed to be okay. That made sense. Mom didn't work the fields, and Sweetie didn't follow the tractor around like a dog, like I did.

My Mom and I rented a room at the YWCA for our stay in Toronto. What a trip. I was pretty buzzed out and don't remember the details, but let me put it to you like this:

-seen a homeless person
-seen a formerly homeless person who was now living at the Y
-taken a subway anywhere
-had to walk down the hall to use a shower that God only knows how many others have used today already (or not, judging by the b.o.)
-seen a prostitute -- and I add that neither of us figured out that that's what she was until years later
-seen a lesbian--we were a little alarmed at first that they let this odd little man into the women's shelter. After that it took us years to realize that not all lesbians look like odd little men.
-seen a cockroach
-talked to a Scientologist

We didn't exactly feel betrayed when we found out that they were Scientologists. Just kind of puzzled. And we didn't really care. Every morning we went to the clinic, they weighed me, asked me how I was feeling, gave me a couple of niacin tablets, and told me to get out and run. Mom waited for me at the park down the street while I ran around until my face was red and the niacin had caused my skin to itch and crawl. We'd go back to the clinic, I'd change into my swimsuit and go into the sauna, where I'd spend much of the rest of the day, sweating the poison out of me, with breaks for showers and food and drinks.

It wasn't bad. I was the youngest person there. I was the entertainment. I brought that comedic spark to an othewise drab day. I wasn't always aware of my comedy at the time. I was 15 and silly. My school buddies wrote preplexed letters to me, that they had no idea I was a druggie so bad that I had to go to detox, which I read with uproarious laughter to my sauna mates. I wrote pages of sweat stained philosophy in that sauna. I wish I knew where all that writing got to. I may have burned it all later on.

They didn't hide their "affliliation" but they also didn't trumpet it. One day, I asked one of the directors what the deal was. I wish I could remember what he told me, verbatim, but it's faded with time. I made it very clear that I wasn't asking because I wanted to join or anything. I was just a curious teenager. He sat down and told me that most people join because they're having a crisis or a trauma that they haven't been able to get help for.

..y'know, like being very mysteriously ill....

and that they had many carefully constructed programs to offer help. The Purif started as a detox for alcohol and drug abuse but was found to be helpful for many problems. He assured me that Scientology wasn't meant to replace a faith-based religion, but that many people chose to go with it exclusively.

As for spirituality, they believed that as we go through life, we are to constantly improve. Sounded okay to me. Theoretically, if you improved enough you would merge with the supreme being.

...like L. Ron....

And that was it. That was the total extent of the Scientology talk that I was exposed to. I asked for some books and they gave them to me. I don't know if I ever finished any of them or where they got to. But I definitely was not brainwashed.

EXCEPT... my mom noticed something very strange as she sat waiting for me at the clinic, playing with the receptionist's baby, chatting with the directors...most of these people were on their 3rd or 4th or FIFTH marriages.

It seemed as though there was an attitude that I have also noticed in some people who consider themselves very "new age" or even -gasp,choke- "spiritual". It's an attitude I despise. People will come and go in your life, loved ones will flow through your life like water, and they are all meant to help you or teach you in some way, and you them, and when you have gotten what you need from each other, you move on and pass it on to others on your journey.

Pardon me, I don't intend to offend anybody who's been remarried, because some marriages have to end. But I really do find that attitude to be a steaming pile of pigshit. You don't trade in or trade up! An attitude like that should never apply to your spouse. Or god forbid, the children you have flowing into your life.

That put a bad taste in our mouths. We come from a culture where you stay married. You work it out. You understand that it's hard to be married to somebody and you deal with it. Don't get me wrong--nobody is forced to stay in an abusive marriage. But this whole "I just wasn't happy" crap is not pussyfooted around. It's marriage--who told you you'd be HAPPY ?????????

If the divorce rate for the rest of the world is 50%, at our congregation there are maybe 5 divorced families, and those were totally unavoidable. So for us, these serial marriers were not walking the talk. They spoke of improvement but their lives were a mess.

In the twenty years since, I have been increasingly wary of this whole thing. I appreciate the help they gave me, and I'd never refute that. But when it comes to walking the talk, they are not very good. We live in a culture where committment is disgustingly disposable. Scientology is a very self-centred doctrine. When it comes right down to it, they can talk about self fulfillent and realized potential all they want, but they don't face up to homewrecking.

So many famous people join, which makes sense, seeing as how they can reach fulfillment by paying for improvement courses and have many different yes-people telling them how fulfilled they are. But they're not showing a very solid example, are they?

Exhibit A

yes, we all know he's nuts. He's proven that effectively over the last year. He's actually getting quite scary. Kate. Who the hell is Kate? What I find particularly fascinating about this photo is the straight line visually from Matt Lauer's pen through Tom Cruise's arm. What's the symbolism? Probably nothing. I'm just saying that despite my belief in pacifism I'd be brandishing a pen against this guy too.

Exhibit B

He was cool in the 70's.

Exhibit C
And in the new millenium he's getting guest spots on a show called Fat Actress. And flying his commercial jet around to save people in New Orleans. By having his photo taken with them.

Exhibit D
She used to be quite beautiful. She has gorgeous eyes, awesome hair, and...and...okay she's not a very good actor. I just think it's sad that she had to resort to fat jokes. I wish everybody could be fit and healthy and fat jokes would't exist. What's this got to do with Scientology? Probably nothing. But I'm going to carry a pen with me anyways, just in case.

I do remember finding out that their boy L. Ron was actually a science fiction writer, not some visionary prophet. I went through a sci-fi phase in those years. He wasn't even a good one. Aldous Huxley was very good. L. Ron was not.

Some less-informed people have tried to tell me that being Mennonite, I am part of a cult. I just laugh. I have looked the cult in the eye. And I didn't blink.


Redneck Nerdboy! said...

I grew up in an agricultural area, breathing in pesticides too! And now my sperm count is in fractions and I have that extra arm growing out of my groin, so...

I don't believe in that "dust in the wind" theory of people using each other to learn, then just moving on, either. A friend is forever, in my opinion, and that means on the Other Side too!

Of course some are not happy in their marraiges (excluding the abusive ones), and that's exactly why they need to stay it out, learn, find that original spark again and MAKE IT WORK!

Scientology is self centered, I agree. Humanity is about helping others, lifting others up, and in the process, it is inevitable that we will be lifted up also! That's what humanity is. Scientology is poison, and L. Ron, the shitty sci-fi writer is their prophet who bought yachts and ranches from the money that his sheeple gave him.

I'm just surprised it has continued this long. Excellent post, Heidigirl! I snarfed my popcorn while reading it!

Heidi the Hick said...

yeah. And I don't recall Jesus making any money.

and Hubbard wasn't even a good writer! Like, at least if he was GOOD...but no!

so, uh, that extra arm...did you eat your popcorn with that one?

George Larson said...

Yeah, I know! Lesbians are scary.

Notsocranky Yankee said...

Interesting story. Did you read the article in Rolling Stone magazineabout scientology? The reporter was given access to the facilities for the story and seemed to be trying very hard not to insult the group, but still managed to let the readers know that they were quite the odd bunch.

Glad they helped you though...

Elmo said...

Don't they believe in aliens?

Heidi the Hick said...

Georgie- that one sure was.

Yankee- That was an excellent article. I thought she was very fair. And yet still she got a snarky letter a few weeks later from a certain Actress/Spokesperson. If ya know who I mean.

I will always appreciate the help but that's where it ends!

Elmo- Yeah, I didn't know about that aliens thing until years later. Not that I refuse to believe in the remote possibility that there could possibly be aliens...but I'm not one. Uh, at least I don't think I am.

Kari said...

Great post Heidi. And I totally think the whole Scientology thing (I'm NOT calling it a relegion, becuase it's NOT) is a crock.

Gasp! I didn't know John Travolta was a scientologist.

Um, makes me wonder what kinda crap I was exposed to growing up.

Timmy said...

very well written, and informative! thanks Hick Chic!

For the record: Matt Lauer = YUMMY!

Redneck Nerdboy! said...

Heidi - Oh yeah! You wouldn't believe the things I can do with this third arm! I never have to leave the house!

Chip said...

Darn girl, tell us what you really think. Interesting post and true about the disposable marriages. Once I counted how many broken couples I knew on staff and it was over 50! This isn't so true with public Scientologists and I wonder if they are bound by the incredible financial debt that many have accumulated together while going Up the Bridge to Total Freedom. It is easier to stay married than to figure out who owes what.

Chip Gallo

Caroline Letkeman said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Caroline Letkeman said...

Thanks for the story, Heidi! I read it on alt.religion.scientology today.

Nah yo. Meet another Canadian Mennonite. I got sucked into this pernicious cult in Vancouver 1975, and was inside,in the US mostly, until 1999. They lured me in with "free career counseling." I should have stuck to milking cows. ;-) Anyway, you can read my story, without the Mennonite part, here:
(Long urls aren't wrapping on your page, so I tried again this way.)

My husband is Gerry Armstrong, who Scientology considers a major enemy. His story is on his site here:http://tinyurl.com/o4gsz

We also maintain a site about Scientology's "Suppressive Person doctrine," which is what Scientology labeled us when we Scientology. Check out our page on Canada MP Derek Lee (Toronto area.) http://tinyurl.com/pq78o

All the best to you.

Heidi the Hick said...

Kari- you're right, it's not a religion. It's not a faith. It's a club. One with severely extreme rules. And yep, they even got Vinnie Barbarino...

Tim- Matt Lauer is so much more pleasant than his sparring partner in that photo, eh?

Nerdboy- that's what I figgered!

Chip- Good point. But Cruise there has gone through two already. Just sayin.

Caroline- that's kinda scary, my dear! I'm not clear on where you found my posting. I know the old web has long strings. I'm always aware that whatever I write here could bite me in the butt years later. I hope you and your husband are living a good life now and are in a good mental state.

kojak said...

That's awsome.

Check out my blog. I've just recently published an article on Scientology, which is both entertaining and factual. I think you'll find it a good read. Don't forget to leave a comment if you want.

John Q. Public esq. said...

well done H2H, well done

Heidi the Hick said...

thanks JQP