I grew up in $cientology (I assume there is a reason everyone using symbols when typing that gawd-awful word?). My parents were in and out over the course of my early years. They joined staff for the last time when I was about 10 or 11. My dad worked all day (when he had a job), then went to the Org at night. I began taking courses (Communication course and the Learning Book Course for starters I think) and quickly found out it was a good way to get attention. All the adults around me praised me and I ate it up. I loved going to work with my dad every night (he was an Ethics Officer at the time) and was soon begging to be allowed to join staff after my older brother and sister were allowed to.
Unfortunately, my parents relented. I became a Comm Runner, working in the mail room and running paperwork from office to office. The only good thing I enjoyed was getting to read ethics reports and such. Much of it was about sex, and at 12, I couldn't keep my nose out of it. Never got busted for it, though.
I didn't get to take any more courses after that. Just wasn't a priority, I suppose. I did get a first-hand look at how staff members lived, though. We were always rather poor, so at the time I didn't really think anything of it, but as an adult I see it for what it was - enforced poverty. These people were living three families to a small apartment, scrounging for gas money, and wearing the same clothes day in and day out. Which is ridiculous, b/c you couldn't be late for your post (so you'd better find a way to fix your beat-up car), you couldn't take off to care for a sick kid (so you'd better get a grip on that head lice and ringworm that's going around), and you had to look presentable (so hit the garage sales for clothes, People!).
I joined the Sea Org when I was 12. Why not? It had to be better than where I was. My parents had split up and half of the kids were with my mom and the other half with my dad. We had NOTHING. My parents were not allowed to spend time with us (except Sunday, which was spent doing laundry at the laundry mat before we hit the beach for a few hours of fun - those beach memories are the only GOOD memories I have of that time). Of course, when the Org hit a State of Emergency, even this was revoked and they worked from about 11am to 11pm seven days a week with only an hour or two break for dinner (which was cooked by us kids).
So, who's watching the little ones this whole time? My 10-year-old sister became a nanny for our younger siblings and a few other kids. Watched them by herself at a staff member's apartment each night. Needless to say, none of us went to public school (we'd been pulled out and 'home-schooled'), so getting home at midnight wasn't much of an issue.
Back to the SO. I was flown to NY and immediately got desperately homesick. I was in class all day and working in the kitchen with a total pervert chef. I buddied up with a couple girls my age, one of which was an SO officer. She treated me horribly! She was maybe 14 and she had an ego the size of Texas. I hated it and begged to go home. After my mother visited a few months later and realized I was going all over NYC with no adult supervision, living in a barrack-style building with men, women, and children (none of whom gave a fig about my well-being), she insisted I be sent home. And I was.
I technically didn't 'blow.' I was allowed to remain an SO member at the Org. Don't remember exactly what I did, but it involved getting staff members to 'route' through processes every week. Let me tell you...they were none to happy to have a 12-year-old on their asses every week trying to get them to fill out some freaking paperwork while they tried to get their stats up high enough before 2pm on Thursday.
After months and months of no sleep and a visit from children's services (I assume we were reported to them by a concerned relative?), my parents finally blew. They packed us in a tiny, worn-out car (four kids in what I believe was a little hatchback), threw in some dirty laundry and a cooler with food, and drove 20 hours to where we had family we hadn't spoken to in years.
When we arrived, the family threw together some household items and helped us get settled. We literally had nothing but the clothes on our backs. We were enrolled in public school (try adjusting to THAT after being force-fed CoS bull for years - we were totally brainwashed). I had to start back in the 5th grade (two years behind) b/c they didn't acknowledge my CoS 'schooling.' I don't remember if we were harassed for blowing, but I'm sure they tried to get my parents to return. We were all declared suppressive (not that I minded, it just bugged me that I didn't technically 'blow' - my parents did). Turns out, part of the reason we left was b/c I was wanting to leave staff so I could focus on school and have a normal life rather than working every night. They basically told my parents to get rid of me.
I have since gone to college, married, had kids and moved on with my life. None of my family is involved with CoS anymore (thank GOD for that!). I'm so grateful my parents saved us and gave us a chance at a life. But at the same time I'm BITTER! Angry, mad, ashamed, you-name-it. I feel like I was robbed of a normal childhood. The Tom Cruise thing really is getting to me. I want to scratch his eyes out and shake Katie into reality. The only good thing that will come of it is that the general public will become more aware of the truth of $cientology and seek out answers on the Internet (which, incidentally, will be LRH's undoing - information available at people's fingertips? On any subject? Give it 10 years...CoS will go down in flames).
Thanks for letting me get my story out. I know I'm shaky on some of the details, but I don't really remember a lot of the staff positions and other technical terms anymore. What a blessing that is!