Monday, October 12, 2009

My Life in a cult

What I'm about to write about is something I don't think many know about me other than a few bits and pieces. As a matter of fact I rarely spoke of this period of my life until a girlfriend cornered me and I thought it's time to start letting people know the depth of my involvement in a cult from 1985-1994 and as a matter of fact not completely letting go of the believes of that cult until 2000.

In 1982, after graduating from high school I moved to Salt Lake City to live with my family who moved to Utah at the beginning of my senior year yet allowed me to stay in California to complete my senior year and graduate with the my classmates I'd grown close too.

Moving to Utah was a completely different world than northern California especially back in the early 80's. The styles were in dress and music seemed to be 10 years behind the times. I had gotten into the New Wave music scene and was reading books like Siddhartha by Herman Hesse and really thought that I was becoming some sort of philosophical kinda guy. I had a hard time relating to people in Utah as people seemed to fit 2 molds, LDS or long hair, non LDS rockers who smoked cigarettes. I had started to cut my hair shorter back in 1980 after a friend in high school had us all watch An American Gigolo with Richard Gere and clean cut was coming back in. Fast forward to Utah 2 years later and clean cut meant only one thing, you were Mormon. Making one of my great decisions in life, I decided to keep a clean cut image but decided to take up smoking as a way of showing that I wasn't Mormon anymore.(I didn't say it was a good decision) I remember getting into Ayn Rand after this point and she became my new philosopher. She wrote about how smokers had control over fire through a cigarette and this confirmed that bad choice. (funny, Ayn Rand seems to be making a comeback through the far right) My new friend who introduced me to Ayn Rand lived with his parents in a very exclusive part of Salt Lake Valley at that time and they were extremely wealthy. His father ran a brokerage training company and published articles in The Economist and WSJournal. He was constantly in New York City and big wigs Dean Witter and E.F. Hutton would come visit during ski season. I had never seen that kind of wealth and Bill promised if I stuck with him that I would someday be in those kind of circles. I was even offered an apprenticeship at the New York Stock Exchange through his connections and I had no idea what sort of opportunity that was until many years later. I decided not to do this intern.
Bill stuck with me though and gave me a job at his company. I worked hard and was well liked and willing to do whatever it took to get the job done. I remember that as long as we promoted that money would come in, so when a mailing wasn't getting out on time I stayed up all night putting the mailing together so it could go out the next morning. This was not my job but I knew that this was a lifeline of the Company according to Bill so I just saw that it needed to be done and did it. Bill loved this and even threw me a $50 spot.
I went to Bill at one point and asked him what I could do to improve my position, what step would he want me to do next. Bill was a Scientologist and I knew that they went to Florida for special counseling every few months and I had even been to a few events about Scientology with his son Bret. They talked about exteriorization but one time they asked who wanted to go "clear" come on up and talk to someone I actually walked up to one of their salespeople and told them I'd like to. I asked how much it would cost and the person said around $30,000. I gulped and faded back and out of the auditorium figuring I'd do "this rich man's religion" when I got rich.
Back to my discussion about my future with Bill's company. Bill told me that Scientology has a communication course that I should go down and take. This course would cost about $150 dollars but he'd split the cost with me.
I began the summer of 1985 taking the communication course. The first part of the course is basically sitting in front of someone and not blinking, twitching,or moving. It's basically called just being there. You next learn to be teased, cajoled, and made fun of without laughing getting angry or anything else. A person sits in front of you and basically insults you. (The other day I actually realized that this kind of training knocks down your defense mechanism and allows you to be fed false information, I know there's probably deeper significance to that but in a nut shell that's what it does.) I had some difficulty doing this course and wished I just would've quit going but my friend Bret decided to come in and get me through the course. I eventually got through it and I attested that I knew how to communicate. I was taken upstairs and put in front of a scientology counselor. This is what I'd wanted to do. The scientology counselor hooks you up to an emeter which basically reads if any thing is blocking your thinking energy. You look back into your past and find upsets and keep going back to the original upset. I kept going back and talking about whatever came to my mind. I eventually came to a point where I knew that it wasn't this lifetime what I was looking at. At that point I was so excited that I finished with my "session" as I went to a past life. (This was the last time anything like that ever happened)
After that point I listened to all the Scientology books and tapes I could get ahold of. I found one that spoke about a group of people who run and protect the "technology" of Scientology called the Sea Organization. Because of my light drug history I actually qualified for this group. I called a recruiter in Florida and told them I wanted to work for Hubbard and she took some information and then called me back and told me I was approved and then we figured out how I could get there quickly. I saved money for a plane flight and 1 month later I arrived in Clearwater, Florida. My first red flag should've been that no one was at the airport to greet me, yet here I was going to become one of the Dukes of Scientology. No big deal, I saw a couple a people carrying briefcase made to carry emeter and I asked if they were headed to Flag(the Scientology organization). They said yes and I told them I was joining the Sea Organization and they offered to share a cab.
I arrived at the Fort Harrison Hotel in Clearwater, Florida around 11 pm thinking that I was arriving at the mecca of Scientology. What I saw was a different story. The building was run down and after a few moments of indecisiveness I was led down into a closet which was turned into an office. (When I say turned into an office I mean the brooms, mops and cleaning materials taken out and a desk put in.) I remember a phone cord going out the closet around the corner and up some stairs. (funny the things you remember) As it was late at night and my recruiter looked haggard and tired and she also had a baby on her shoulder we did very little paperwork and I was given a room at the hotel. This room was to be my residence for the next month as normally new recruits are put into a dorm type room with bunks stacked 3 high with a single mattress pad. I arrived on a Saturday night and somehow fell through the cracks. Next...My month in Clearwater, Florida and how deep this rabbit hole is.


carey clan said...

Chad, I know this is so painful for you, as well as therapeutic. But for me, it is just painful. I keep trying to fit together where I was during each of those moments and fitting together the pieces of knowledge that I have compared to what was happening with you. The thing is... none of the past can be changed and it doesn't matter what I knew or didn't know. I am just so grateful for a loving Father in Heaven that sent us a Savior to help us make it through this life.
I love you so much and am grateful that he gave me you as a brother. You are a good one and I wouldn't give you up for any other!

The Henricksen Journal said...

That was so difficult for me to read. Painful, as Jill put it, because of my bried encounter with this group. I know you feel it more deeply than I do. I applaud you for moving through the painful past. I was just talking about you the other day and said that I am so happy for you. The peace that has come into your life has made a significant impression upon me. Has softened my heart really. I can see and feel from you that you love Jesus. There is a scripture that comes to mind. Paraphrased it says that the Lord will consecrate our afflictions for our gain. I am so proud of you. I love you.
And thanks for letting me cry on your shoulder the other day.

Anonymous said...

You were willing to dedicate your life to something you thought was a good cause! That's respectable!


Dora Namity said...

Do you plan to finish this story? You've left me on the edge of my seat!