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Finding your way after leaving the cult of Scientology

It Wasn’t All Bad

Kathy Elliott reminds us that many of us experienced miracles during our early years in Scientology. The story of her first exposure to Ruth Minshull and Scientology illustrates the power that was resident in so many Missions at one time.


Mommy, I forgot to put on my underwear,” my six-year old daughter, Laurel, wailed as I pulled up at the school to drop the kids off.

It’s okay, honey,” I reassured her. “I’ll take you home and we’ll get them.”

I was already running late but what else could I do?

Are you mad at me?” she asked miserably, looking at me through tear-filled eyes.

How could I be mad at her? It wasn’t her fault. I’d been in such a hurry to get the three kids and myself ready for school and work that she’d just gotten swept up in the mad rush to get out the door.

We drove home, I found a pair of underwear in a pile of clean laundry that had yet to put away and returned to the school. Laurel and her twin sister, Karen, ran off to join their friends on the playground under the huge monkeypod trees which dwarfed the low, one-story buildings of the Waianae Valley Elementary school.

Then off to the nursery school to deliver my four-year old daughter, Lorna.

With the kids safely in the keeping of their Japanese teachers, I hit the highway for the 40-mile commute into Honolulu where I worked at Amfac, one of Hawaii’s “Big Five” companies, as a computer programmer.

The year was 1970 and at age 25 I was a single mom raising my three little girls with no help – financial or otherwise – from their father who had disappeared shortly after the divorce was final.

I had ended up in Hawaii because that was where my ex’s parents lived. Toward the end of my up and down relationship with their son, they had had to step in and offer me and the kids a place to stay while I got back on my feet.

We lived in Waianae, a small town on the leeward side of the island of Oahu. The place was so sleepy and backward that it didn’t even boast a stop light or a major supermarket. We lived in a tiny house that had once been a plantation worker’s home which I rented for only $100 a month. It was located way up Waianae Valley Road at the base of the Waianae Mountains.

It was a great place to raise kids.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have a clue HOW to raise kids. I was continuously a frazzled mess and I was just faking my way through each day with its new set of child-raising problems.

And my worst problem was how to help Laurel.

Laurel had always been very shy. As the younger twin (by 6 minutes), she allowed her older twin to dominate her and speak for her. Her sister generally “ran” the duo as though she owned both their bodies. Laurel was a mere shadow around her sister.

Ever since she had been a toddler, Laurel had been a “troubled” child, waking up at night screaming and crying uncontrollably, her body rigid with intense emotion. Nothing I did worked to comfort her or get her to relax.

As she grew older, the “stiff fits” ceased but Laurel became more and more introverted and withdrawn.

I could program mainframe computers, but I was all at sea when it came to raising kids in general. And helping my daughter Laurel was a problem I couldn’t solve.

Then one day, my ex-mother-in-law presented me with a book which she had found for sale on the counter of dress shop in Waikiki. It was called “Miracles for Breakfast – A Startling New Approach to Raising Children” by Ruth Minshull.

PARENTHOOD: How to avoid total ruin. You’ll cry a little . . . you’ll laugh a lot . . . and, we’ll bet a bag of marbles you’ll make some changes around your house. Learn the secrets of good communication with your child, whether newborn baby or teenager.”

Ms. Minshull’s style of writing was delightful and humorous.

Her child-raising techniques were all based on something called Scientology and everything she talked about made a lot of sense to me. I tried using her methods and found that life with kids became less stressful, less confusing and a lot more fun!

I was dying to learn more about Scientology and was just on the verge of writing to the publisher in Ann Arbor, MI when I stumbled upon the Scientology Mission of Honolulu quite by accident. Driving down Kapiolani Blvd. in Honolulu one afternoon, I saw a sign that read “SCIENTOLOGY” over a doorway leading to an upstairs office over a row of little shops.

I parked my car and mounted the steep, carpeted stairs to the upper floor, wondering what I would find.

At the top of the stairs there was a small desk where a stunningly beautiful girl sat. She was small and thin and delicate with long chestnut brown hair. She looked more like a wood nymph than a real human being. Her name was Maggie Kris.

Standing by the desk was a delightfully gentle and quiet man whom Maggie introduced to me as Roger Taylor. Both Maggie and Roger were dressed more like hippies than like conventional business people. They were both very laid back and easy to be around.

Maggie led me into the office of the lady who ran the mission, Norma Maier. Norma was an older woman, wearing a long, flowing Hawaiian muu muu dress. Norma greeted me warmly, and I felt immediately relaxed and comfortable in this new and strange environment. Norma showed me around the rooms with their pale blue walls and thick, deep blue carpets.

I explained to her about how I had read Ruth Minshull’s book and said that I wanted to find out more about Scientology.

Norma told me about the beginning course, The Communications Course, which was held three evenings a week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I paid the $25 fee and agreed to be back the next evening to start the course.

The course instructor was a man named Wil Hubbard (no relation to LRH). Back in 1970 the comm course was a lot different than what it evolved into later. There was no course pack, no checksheet and nothing really to “study”. It was fun!

For the first part of the evening, Wil would lecture to us about Scientology basics; things like the ARC triangle and the comm formula and even about how each of us was an immortal being called a “thetan”.

After Wil’s lectures, we would all take our places in chairs facing each other and, armed only with a copy of the TRs bulletin, we would go at it.

I loved it! I soaked it all up like a giant sponge.

I started using what I learned at work – with amazing results!

Up until then, I’d been a brilliant programmer, but my “people skills” sucked the giant green weenie. Unfortunately, I had to interact with the end-users of the programs I was creating and I was no good at this. I was basically pretty shy (like my daughter Laurel) and was extremely uncomfortable trying to function in the world of big business outside of my cubicle at work.

Applying the principles of the ARC triangle and the comm formula to my situation at work, I soon became not only good at interpersonal relationships at work – I became the best out of all the programmers and systems analysts in the whole IT section.

Amfac had many subsidiaries – hotels, department stores, financial institutions, sugar plantations, travel agencies – and was also the GE distributor for the islands. With my new ability to communicate easily with practically anyone, I was promoted to the position of systems analyst for the financial institutions, Amfac Financial and Hawaii Leasing.

The managers and staff of these two companies loved me because I listened to them, I duplicated exactly what they wanted from their computer systems, and I gave them what they wanted. No one else had ever done this for them. They acted like what I did was miraculous, but to me it was so simple. Using the ARC triangle data and the skills I’d learned from the comm course was easy and fun!

And of course my new skills were helping me to be a better mom. I now understood how important it was to my girls to have at least one person in their lives who would listen to them and acknowledge them. I realized that this was the single most important thing that I could do for my kids: To be there as a terminal and listen and duplicate and acknowledge. However, my precious little girl, Laurel, was still a shy and introverted shrinking violet.

About a week into the comm course, Norma approached me and told me that the mission was offering a comm course for kids and she wanted to know if my children would like to do it. I naturally said,” YES!” The course was to be given on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.

So two days a week I would drive 40 miles to work each morning, 40 miles home to collect the three girls, 40 miles back to Honolulu for the kids’ comm course and then 40 miles home again. This wasn’t as onerous as it sounds. Back in those days the commuter traffic between Honolulu and the towns on Oahu’s leeward shore was almost nil and the drive was incredibly beautiful.

The kids loved the children’s version of the comm course. I never sat in the room where Norma delivered the course, but the girls told me all about it. My understanding of it was that Norma explained in very simple terms the basic concepts of the comm formula to the kids and then they did simple drills like rolling a ball back and forth to each other to get the idea of a comm particle going from “cause” to “effect”. They loved it!

I remember one evening when Norma opened the door of the room at the end of class. The three girls burst out, running and laughing and screaming with delight. I instantly tried to quiet them, thinking they were being too loud. Norma just laughed and told me not to worry. She said, “Their havingness is up.” I had no idea what she meant but I got the idea that this was a good thing.

All three kids were happier than they had ever been.

But still Laurel had something holding her back in the shadow of her sister, shy and quiet.

Fast forward about seven years.

I had the HQS course under my belt and knew that I wanted to be an auditor “when I grew up”. I now saw auditing as the cure for everything, and I was eager to start auditing my children.

I had found a 13 page “bulletin” (Issue 14-G of “Scientology” April 1953) called Child Scientology in volume II of the tech volumes. I was fascinated by it! This was something I could do NOW to help my kids. It employed the Self Analysis lists in a different way than the standard way that I had learned how to use them on the HQS course.

In the Child Scientology version, you have the kids “mock up” instead of “recall”. A sample command would be, “All right. Now let’s see if we can get a picture of you enjoying something.” Using the Self Analysis lists as a guide, you only choose those items in the lists which would be appropriate for delivery to children. The child creates or imagines an image of himself enjoying something instead of recalling an incident where he enjoyed something. In the bulletin, LRH encourages the reader to use the process on groups of children everywhere.

I jumped in and started running this process on my kids as a group for 15 minutes a day as recommended in the bulletin.

After about three weeks, I realized that I had created a monster!

Previously, the girls had spent a lot of time watching TV. They would easily get bored and then would drop down tone and fight with each other. You know, like all kids do!

Not anymore! The three girls began to CREATE! Using cardboard that they found in the trash, they built a castle that covered the entire floor of their bedroom. It had at least a dozen rooms. They filled the rooms with cardboard furniture. They then proceeded to create their own dolls and doll clothes out of scrap material from my sewing basket. There were no stops. If they needed something for their castle or their dolls, they simply created it from “found” materials.

And miracle of miracles, they stopped fighting!

I later discovered that Laurel had been the one to instigate this vast and complicated project. For a change, she had been the leader and the other two had been the followers.

Years before, I had purchased a cheap guitar for the kids, hoping they would take an interest in music. I’d also found very simple self-instruction guitar book. Both of these things had been collecting dust in a closet, forgotten and unused.

Shortly after starting the kids’ Scientology process, Laurel picked up the guitar and started playing it, using the book to teach herself. She kept at it and got really good – in only a few weeks! She started singing, too. I was flabbergasted. I couldn’t believe this was the same kid that I’d been so worried about all those years.

Meanwhile at school, things were changing drastically for her. The shy little girl who had followed one step behind her twin sister stepped out into the sunshine and started to blossom.

She had friends and she was having fun in school for the first time in her life. She became the teacher’s pet in more than one of her classes.

The auditing put me on the road to a new me,” Laurel told me recently when I asked her about how the auditing had helped her.

She became her own person to such a degree that she started to argue with her teachers as though she were on an equal footing with them. She was in 9th grade, 14 years old.

Laurel’s social studies teacher had given the kids an assignment to write an essay on one of two topics: defending the legalization of marijuana or defending the use of capital punishment. Laurel didn’t agree with either one of these things at the time, so she approached the teacher after class and told him how she felt.

I argued my point using good comm and high ARC, but he refused to let me write a paper on why I was against either one,” she told me.

In the end, Laurel wrote an essay expressing her viewpoint on both topics and why she was against both of them. The teacher gave her a “C” but this didn’t bother Laurel because she’d done what she believed was right.

Her math teacher wasn’t so lenient. He was an older man with teaching methods from the Dark Ages. The kids in the class couldn’t understand him and when they asked him to explain what he had said, he simply repeated exactly what he had just said. The kids were just as baffled as they had been the first time he explained it.

Laurel saw what was happening and went to the man and told him what she had observed – that he was simply repeating himself instead of explaining the problems to the kids. He didn’t want to hear it. So Laurel, who understood the subject very well, started teaching the other kids on her own. When the teacher discovered this, he had Laurel transferred out of his class. It was water off a duck’s back to her. Laurel didn’t care.

Meanwhile, out in the school yard during the lunch break, life was not safe for the good, “upstat” kids who didn’t belong to a gang. In most middle schools in Hawaii, there were gangs made up of the “local” kids. These kids had been taught to hate haolis (white kids). They also resented kids from any race who were intelligent and “better off” than the poverty-stricken locals. And, in this particular middle school, the local kids outnumbered the other kids about 10 to 1. The gangs all had their special places in the school yard where they hung out and woe be to any non-gang member who wandered into their territory.

Laurel formed her own group made up of the non-gang kids. The only place left for them to hang out and not get beaten up was a secluded spot between the sidewalk and the corner of the school building that housed the principal’s office.

The principal soon became aware that a group of kids was meeting there regularly and this annoyed him. He descended on the group one afternoon and told them they couldn’t meet there because they were hidden from the view of the teacher on monitor duty.

Laurel stood her ground.

Look at us,” she ordered the man. “We’re the good kids. We don’t cause trouble. We don’t need to be watched. Besides, there’s nowhere else for us to go. It’s not safe for us out there,” she told him, waving a hand at the gang-infested areas of the school yard.

Well, you’re being too loud and you’re right outside my office,” argued the principal, trying to keep his altitude with this out-spoken adolescent.

We’ll be quieter,” Laurel promised the man. He walked off, pissed, but completely stymied by this young girl’s confidence and logical arguments.

The kids continued to meet in their safe spot. The teacher who roamed the yard checked up on them periodically but generally left them alone.

Looking back, almost 40 years later, Laurel says that the turning point of her life was those 15-minute sessions that I gave her.

Before the sessions, I was living in a scary world in my head, afraid and cringing,” Laurel told me when I interviewed her recently for this story. “After the auditing, I was no longer living with depression and fears. I no longer felt like crying. Instead of being afraid of my future, I was creating my future. THAT describes best what the process did for me: I started creating a theta future.”

A simple process, applied for 15 minutes a day for a few weeks, changed the lives of my daughters.

And for one of them, it changed her life so drastically that she went from a completely introverted, frightened little girl with big sad eyes to an outgoing, loud, self-assertive, confident, happy, loving and caring young woman.

So what’s the point of my story?

Simply this.

Scientology was fun. And some of it was just plain miraculous.

We all found some bright and shiny gems while belonging to this group. We wouldn’t have stayed so long if we hadn’t.

Go back and look through all the shit and find your gems.

Dig them out, clean them off and enjoy them.

And, who knows, maybe someday you can use them.

Imagine what would happen if you did.

As for me, I think I might just start creating some miracles in the lives of other kids like Laurel.


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Self-Destruction at Its Best

Another exposé of the true state of Hubbard Technology by Kathy Elliott. Her experiences parallel mine and that of many others who attempted to follow the “tech” as it was written. The technical reason for our failure to get repeatable results on these e-meter drills appears at the end of the article.

“Is the date besquirreling-2cd8g0gfore 1990?”

No read on my meter.

“After 1990?”

Again, no read on my meter.

“Is the date 1990?”

And, once again, no read on my meter. Just a slow, creeping rise of the needle as my coach’s eyes glazed over.

I threw my pen down on the table and sagged back in my chair.

This had been going on for over an hour with no results. I just couldn’t continue.

My coach slowly surfaced from the mesmerized condition that he’d settled into and blinked. He looked dazed and puzzled. He had no clue what to do. He’d had no auditor training and, of course, had never done any of the e-meter drills. He was a student from the theory course room who’d been cajoled into holding the cans for me in exchange for my help later with one of his drills on the Student Hat Course.

“FLUNK!!!” snapped Bill, the course supervisor, who had spotted my slouched position and total lack of activity.

“What’s going on here?” he asked more kindly but with a touch of frustration in his voice.

“I just can’t keep doing this!” I cried. “I’ve been on this drill for three weekends now, and I’m not getting anywhere with it.” I was almost in tears. For three weekends – six whole days – I’d been beating this drill to death. Or, more accurately, it had been beating me.

If you’ve ever done The Hubbard Professional Metering Course, you know what I’m talking about.


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