Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Near Misses: I could have been a crack whore or a Scientologist

I don't think I have shared my latest addictive habit. For the past two weeks I have spent hours reading article after article about Scientology. I used to think of it as a pretty silly religion where people believed in aliens invented by a science fiction writer, but then I learned that instead it is a for-profit cult that exploits people with mental health challenges. I also love watching shows like "intervention" or seeing stories like a crack addicted prostitute on Tyra today. I read and watch stories like this not with the facination of observing total screw ups and feeling superior, instead I feel like I am looking at myself...I got so lucky, they all could have been me.

Scientology offers "free personality tests" that you take and no matter what you say they tell you that you are depressed. I would have loved to take a personality test, I always enjoy learning about myself, and it wouldn't have been inaccurate if it told me I was depressed. Next they would tell me that if I paid $280 (I think) I could buy an introductory package, and suggest I begin recieving "auditing." Well when I had my mom's inheritance I would have happily forked over $300. I spent that much on the "attacking anxiety" tapes on the infomercials, I would have paid whatever I had if it would quiet the loop of worry always playing in my head or that horrible void that made getting out of bed seem as difficult as lifting a car.

I would have paid my $280 and sat down for an auditing session. In this session they would have had me go back to a traumatic experience in my life, they would have me go over it and over it again, and have me hold on to some metal cans while I did it. I would have felt better afterwards, having had someone listen to my story would have brought some relief, and I would feel very relaxed, like I had been meditating. I would feel slightly confused by some of the wording they used, and they may have said some things about how much "the tech" helps me while I was in this suggestable state, so I would be beaming, ready for my next session.

Since I had $100,000 inheritance I would likely spend a few months getting alot of auditing, I would have stopped taking my medication, which would make me more vulnerable and needy of their "assistance." When sharing my new discovery with my family, my well meaning aunt would suggest that I may be being taken advantage of. This would hurt me terribly, I would talk to one of my many new "friends" I had met through scientology (terrific for me, since I was so socially awkward back then) and they would introduce me to the term "suppressive person" someone who you should have no contact with at all, even if they are family or friends.

After a few years I would be working for the "Church of Scientology" for terrible wages in exchange for "discounts" on my auditing. At this point my whole social circle would be in the "church" my life would revolve around it. I would reach a very high level on "the bridge" and be praying for the day that I could be an OT, an Operating Thetan, who can move things with their mind. Yes, that would be hard for someone outside the cult to believe in, but by this time I would be brainwashed, so doubt would be something I learned to suppress.

One day I would have been handed a pamphlet by a protester outside about "Xenu." According to the brochure I would learn at OT level 3 that the evil lord Xenu, in order to control alien overpopulation, sent aliens in spaceships that looked like DC8s to earth and put them in a volcano. Then he caught their souls and forced them to watch movies, and that these souls clumped together and attached to human bodies, and that is why we have problems.

I would have sat and thought about this, and other doubts that I had repressed would have come to the surface. I would have, with great earnestness, asked someone about these doubts, expecting that they would help clear them up. Instead I would be looked at as a troublemaker. I would persist and if I wasnt sent to a slave-labor prison camp (RTF) I would be declared a "Suppressive Person" and my friends, my husband, and children would never speak to me again. I would speak publicly about Scientology, and then be harrassed and have lawsuits put on me. If I had the courage to leave I would be broke, with no job, no friends, no family, and already anxious, would be in great fear. If I do everything they say before I leave they would send me through "reverse-auditing" which has given many people nervous breakdowns, so if I'm in I'm screwed, if I'm out I'm screwed, either way I'm broke.

I don't think I would actually get that deep. I once got duped into going to a "group interview" at a "health care company" called "Equinox" and left during the break, complaining to my dad that it was a cult. So I have the gut instinct to know when "something isn't right," but howabout all the other Dianas out there who haven't been so lucky as to have a psychologist mother for 9 years of her life.

What scares me about Scientology is the power and money that they have, and the tactics that they use to try to make themselves look like a ligitimate religion. I sincerely hope that the weirdness of Tom Cruise lately will help vulnerable people see that Scientology is a sophisticated for-profit cult and not a harmless albiet kooky church.

I get so mad when I see how people with childhood trauma are exploited by cults, pimps, and abusers. I look at my own life, in all of it's flaws, and feel so grateful that I, with all of my naive trust of people, and need for acceptance, haven't been taken to the cleaners by any of these scum-of-the-earth.

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