Leaving Scientology: Nightmares, happiness and stolen dreams

Some days I closed my eyes praying that God would give me cancer and that it would be too advanced to survive when doctors found out. Now, I’m happy that wish didn’t come true. Just because I have a smile on my face doesn’t mean my life is easy. Not all wounds are visible. I am recovering from my life’s worst nightmare.

anette_iren_geir_isene_new_york_scientology

Anette Iren & Geir Isene in New York, June 2013. Shining some love.

It is important to allow yourself to be happy during your PTSD (Posttraumatic Stress Syndrome) recovery. Staying in bed, exhausted, in pain and in darkness won’t help in the long run. Getting enough sleep, eating healthy food and staying hydrated is beneficial.

Wanted Dead or Alive? Stolen dreams

I was a roadkill after leaving both the Church of Scientology and an abusive relationship.

I couldn’t be alone for more than a few hours. Living in fear. My life was a war zone. I was so scared. My pulse were like a sprinter’s when I saw the mailman. I couldn’t open mail for 4 years! Imagine. I didn’t even empty my mailbox. I jumped when my phone rang. When checking my emails, which I seldom did (now you know why you didn’t get any response from me), I held one hand on the computer screen gradually revealing one and one email to avoid a total breakdown if I accidently got a glimpse of too many “bad” emails.

If someone passing me on the street raised his voice, I started to cry. It instantly reminded me of being screamed at. I was shaky. Fragile. I struggled to regain stability.

I experienced 4–6 panic attacks a day. I was more dead than alive. Some days I closed my eyes praying that God would give me cancer and that it would be too advanced to survive when doctors found out. I wanted to just disappear. I had a hard time trying to find any reason to stay alive. I had already lost everything. Scientology had stolen my dreams and my future.

Finding true love

Before I met my love, Geir Isene, in November 2012, I had to fight this battle alone.

When inside Scientology you are not allowed to seek professional help outside the church. It was a mental prison. You have no one to talk to. Unless you pay thousands of dollars to get counseling. It took me almost 4 years to regain enough strength to leave both the Church of Scientology and an abusive relationship. When I realized I would probably die of a stroke or a heart attack if I stayed any longer, I finally managed to leave.

I’ve had lots of pain in my body. Some mornings the pain in my ankles was so severe I could hardly walk out to the bathroom. My wrist joints “burned” so much I had trouble falling asleep. Once sleeping, flash backs of painful incidents I had experienced kept haunting me. Normal painkillers couldn’t stop the pain in my joints. I had headaches every day. And migraines every second week lasting 2-4 days. My life was a nightmare!

I stayed isolated. Meeting old friends was too hard. I just wanted to be alone. People would ask me how I felt and I would start to cry.

No one is cult proof

I consider myself to be highly intelligent, strong, tough and a rebel. I could never imagine anything like this would happen to me. But it did. Mind control is powerful and destructive. When I look at the amount of abuse I suffered, both mentally and physically, it’s hard for me to understand I’m still alive.

Now, I have progressed a lot during the last six months.

PTSD Recovery

Stay focused. Don’t derail. By gradually confronting your past you will regain energy and power. Step by step, in your own pace. Don’t give up. You don’t have to fight this battle alone. What is helping me the most is reading stories of others who have experiences the same, and to share my own. Writing down my memories have helped me tremendously.

"Derailed" from my Instagram Gallery

“Derailed” from my Instagram Gallery

 

Re-connection

Connect with people of good will. There are many people speaking out. And there are brave souls out there fighting PTSD. Here are links to two non-veterans sharing their stories: Timoria McQuees (links to a post I made on her Facebook wall) and Michele Rosenthal (the author of the book – Before the world intruded – one woman’s quest to triumph over trauma.)

positive_people

 

The US trip

A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege to join my love, Geir Isene and his business partner, Brendan Martin to an interesting and intense trip to the US. You can see a visual summary of our trip here at Geir’s blog.

It was so beneficial to get out of the “mess” for a short while. Despite that I was pumped with antibiotics and painkillers, I enjoyed every second. I had no muscle or joint pains during this trip. What a pleasure! Mentally I felt great.

Meeting lots of amazing people and seeing amazing places. It was my first time in the US and I fell in love with this diverse country. I’ll write some blog posts detailing our trip soon.

Go visiting new places, seeing new stuff and meeting new people. It’s a great prescription!

PTSD

Links to Wikipedia articles:
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Complex Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD).

Creating a safe island

In any recovery the most vital ingredient is to feel safe!

My dearest love, Geir Isene, has given me a safe haven. A place to cry out. A place to recover. Far away from the insanity that is practiced by the Church of Scientology.

We share unconditional love and respect. I’m forever thankful our roads crossed.

Now, I’m safe. I’m moving on with my life. ❤

60 thoughts on “Leaving Scientology: Nightmares, happiness and stolen dreams

  1. Anette, good for you. I have spent time with Geir on only a couple occasions, yet he is one of the more impressive people I have ever met. I am glad that you two are so happy together. I look forward to meeting you one day. I mean, we are almost neighbors.

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  4. This was very moving to read. It’s like having been in a dark, dark place (- I know that place too.)
    You said: “It was a mental prison. You have no one to talk to.” Yes, so it is. You are ALONE; amidst people and ….. alone. And it is especially insidious as there is so much talk about “A-R-C” and pretense thereof – it is not genuine, it is false.

    “In any recovery the most vital ingredient is to feel safe!” Yes, absolutely.
    All the best for you, Anette! – Karola

  5. Dear Anette,
    Thank you for sharing this. I had no idea about what you have been through and how long you have known Geir until now. I am glad to know how you have been rising up from the ashes of it all. PTSD is not an uncommon state in those leaving the church. Neither is chronic pain. Many suffer for years and years. There are many kindred spirits on ESMB who can relate to what you have written here. I wish you the best in all things and hope you will share this over at ESMB.

    • Thanks, Mary. I would suspect many PTSD victims in the wake of Scientology. I put my voice out there to let them know they are not alone.
      Feel free to share my posts. I have no account at ESMB (yet).

  6. You are a winner you always were just forgotten it for little while and the reason was for that to really SEE how terrific you are and plus powerful…. taking responsibility for self that is licking the negative. Best to you! Elizabeth

    • Thanks, Elizabeth! As I got the taste of my rebellious nature back, it’s unlikely I will abandon myself ever again. What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. A well known cliche, but still true.

      • and to realise that nothing can kill the soul… well Anette .. knowing that the fear just vanish… it is a pleasure to read about your happiness with Geir..beautiful!

  7. 15 years I lived in the mental prison that you describe. Driven to live and produce by my duties and obligations with a child at home, nevertheless I suffered in silence but not in sanity. I dramatized and acted out inappropriately until I finally decompressed enough to lift my head and look around to see where I was. Aida Thomas was instrumental helping me back then and continues to be my friend. Little by little I made improvements and then improvements upon improvements. Today, 22 years later, the world looks warm and inviting but that has been over the last 7 years since I began “coming out.” Blogging together with your man Geir was instrumental during these years to help look at and share various viewpoints as I came out. Elizabeth Hamre invited me to solo audit which in that context was also instrumental to both learn what I had always wanted to know and to put to rest many things which no one needs to know.

    The path was a frightening ordeal but is having a good ending. Your story is brave and your advice constructive and helpful. Thank you for going to the trouble to share it.

    • What an acknowledgement! And thanks for filling in some of your own memories after your exit. It never stops amazing me how much suffering this “church” can create. Beyond belief.

      • church causes the suffering? very interesting view point. No one can cause suffering to any one…. We make our own hell by believing that something can make us suffer. our own belief is what causes us to react and to believe that we have that item. my reality… but than I have had great deal auditing-sessions-confronting to believe differently.

        • I once posted on my Facebook wall:

          It can only hurt you if you think it can.

          But, that’s easier said than done. :)

          I just posted this comment on Geir’s blog which touches the same area. Liabilities in Scientology:

          Misinterpretations of Ethics and Responsibility. According to Scientology,you are responsible for everything that happens to you. You “pull things in”, you deserve it. If a stranger hit you in the head with a bottle while you’re walking in the park. Your fault. It just doesn’t add up. It must be shades of grey here. Tell a victim of a child molester that he or she “pulled it in” because he or she had bad karma. I don’t accept that. There are things in this universe that is beyond one’s area of control. There are some uncertainties. If not, then we wouldn’t have a game either.

          • Thank you… I do duplicate that and truly understand the meaning… I have solo-audited one life time… and in the course of those years in session I realized no matter what has happened to the body-anchor I was responsible for that.. yes.. even those things I was the cause of…. Anette this is not to make you wrong in any ways.. no. not my intention… I just believe in different reality since auditing… cognitions do give one just that. It do not mean that my reality beliefs are better than yours… no… just different.
            Interesting thing the spiritual Path.. we are all perfect.. we are all in the right place only others who look into our universe usually say different..
            My universe has become a magical place where every being– thought reality fits into beautifully.

          • I might have put my reply some other place. responsibility taking responsibility for all ones action is a huge topic and because of it has many sides which one need to explore confront. Not just one life time here on these Planet. I have looked at responsibility from every side, have spent thousands of hours exploring who and why what we do to others and others to us… what belong to us as in doing-ness and what belongs to others as in OT 8 material. I would only express my reality what conclusion I have now after hundreds of cognition on these matter.
            The reality-view point do not belong here on these planet. Please I do not want to invalidate your knowledge, yet its sounds like. So please I beg your pardon for that.. I do not write many of my findings because I do realize my reality is so off the wall.. but cant be any other way when one leaves the belief of earthly thinking.

          • Being aware that you had asked Elisabeth, not me I nevertheless would like to leave a thought:
            If somebody hurts, hits, rapes or kills me it is clear that this is not my but the other’s fault.
            The question is if I have maybe ‘pulled it in’ to some extent and am responsible for it as well.
            1) In case that I decide to walk through the slums of Rio at night by myself it is clear: I am responsible as I was not careful. 2) If I have a suppressive relationship for many years being hit again and again: Yes, I had had the choice to separate in an early state. Therefore I am responsible for it to some extent as well. 3) If I stayed in Scientology for 10 years being hurt, suppressed, brainwashed … and I don’t leave in time. I’d say it is like with staying in a suppressive relationship.
            4) If a car hits me while I am standing at the bus stop: That’s the question. I could not foresee that it is dangerous to be standing there. Nevertheless I had had the choice, I could have stood a few meters away, at a safe place.
            In all situations I am cause over what happens to me. The interesting question is: What makes us to stand waiting for the bus exactly where the car will come a minute later? Do we maybe chose this particular location and thus pull the accident in because of having a particular mindset?
            When I became acquainted with Scientology and I learned that I am responsible for everything that happens to me this was good news becoming aware that I am not going effect to ‘fate’ but I can be cause MYSELF over what happens to me.
            Wow!

          • Thank you… I pleased for your reply and I am fine with it.
            When I had that head an collision. that was postulated and it had a very good-fantastic outcome. I looked at that accident not as bad but on instrument to get something out of it.. some thing to confront and see find the postulate origin on the TRACK… It has been a great learning experience .
            Please read that article, it is in my blog and than after that reading you can ask why I have postulated to have such a horrific accident pulled in. And I did pulled it in! What a trip that was!..

          • When a senior hurts a junior, it’s the junior’s fault.
            Hubbard does mention just being at the wrong place at the wrong time, which is different to pulling it in. How can you tell the difference?
            All I can say is I must have been very out ethics to have pulled in the experience of being SO crew.

  8. Reading the first sentence of your essay made me feel sick. I cannot adequately express how sorry I am that you went through that. I also cannot adequately express how happy I am that you are feeling better, and how impressed I am with your courage in writing this essay. Your strength and courage in writing this and expressing yourself will help many.

    • Thank you, Comm I/C!

      And you’re doing a great job spreading truth across different Internet platforms. People are waking up. People are recovering. People get the facts to help them make better judgements. Makes me so happy! :)

  9. Good heavens – I did not know through what kind of nightmare you’ve been going. So happy that things have changed a lot to the positive after meeting Geir. Yes, I can imagine that he – being like a rock – is the best that could happen to you. I wish both of you happiness for all your lives!
    I’ve not been aware that strong people can suffer from such severe problems after having left the Church. Maybe it is too early to write about it but I’d like to know (and probably others, too) what you consider the most damaging factors (like arbitrary, not being able to exchange thoughts with others, being made wrong and accused of having committed overts, living according to policies while not being allowed to use common sense, having to give up being rebellious …).
    Maybe some time you want to let us know your personal evaluation.

    • Yes, it is beyond belief, until I experienced it for years myself. I’m sure there are many, many people suffering from PTSD, or combinations of PTSD and other body aches, after leaving the church and/or an abusive relationship. Most of them are suffering alone. That’s why I will publish more of my personal journey here, to let them know they are not fighting this battle alone.

      To understand the mechanism that keep people from leaving such abuses, read my article, What’s the difference between a Mind Controlling Cult and a Sociopath? The wiki links I provided therein is highly recommendable.

  10. I am glad to know of your blog and so happy that you had a good time here in the US.

    I appreciate your openness here. I can only imagine what you have gone through to wish for death over life at one point in the past and so glad you came through and that you have Geir to share your life with now.

    I VERY much look forward to hearing the details of your story, if you want to tell them. If you do not, I understand that too and just want you to know that I admire you.

    Love, Sindy

  11. How to cure a Posttraumatic Stress Syndrome?
    Those who have had positive experience with Auditing might not consider any other approaches.
    But there are: I’d like to bring Systemic Constellations into the game. I have attended quite a few sessions and can say that it is an extremely powerful tool if applied well. The way it is practiced varies very much from practitioner to practitioner.
    My other recommendation is EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) respectively MET (which is the same technique but it has a brand name). http://www.met2.de/wEnglisch/index.php I would recommend individual sessions, best of all with the practitioner Rainer Franke at his Mallorca Finca.
    I have seen on German TV how he has cured a woman from her vertigo with just one session. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=URlPzCUYyOI (this is part 3 of a video where it is demonstrated how she is free of vertigo when before she was afraid to cross bridges and to climb up a ladder more than 3 steps).
    A friend of mine has lost his fear from flying thanks to EFT.

    • Thanks for sharing. I know EFT can be helpful. I once relieved a migraine I had from a pain level of 9, where 10 is worst, to a pain level of 3 within 5 minutes of tapping on different points on my body. I didn’t say any affirmations as I tapped, I just tapped. I’m not afraid to try new things. Placebo or not. I don’t care, as long as the result is valuable.

  12. Thank you for telling this part of your story Anette. Several have talked theory about “cause” and personal responsibility, and while that may be an ultimate truth it takes nothing away from the horrendous effects of being abused at the time. You ARE recovering, you are coming back as you say, you are persisting through, not giving up. Good onya for that persistence and congrats and best wishes with your new life partner.

    • Thank you. And the same to you, Ronn! I remember I read your story at Marty’s a while ago. More and more people are speaking out. Now, I’m reaching the more enjoyable part of my recovery journey where I can see the light in the end of the tunnel.

  13. I think the photo you posted is the most sweetest revenge :) Two happy people sharing love in front of the building of an organization which so artificial and empty of feelings.

    • Thanks, aotc. It’s getting quite interesting now. I’m feeling so much stronger, sharing my stories, speaking out against the oppressors. I’ve always been a rebel. Now, a bit louder one. ;)

  14. I loved your theta photos in front of those Cof$es!
    They can NEVER have power over you again.
    Sharing your “recovery” story will help others see they are not “the only one” going through that. When I left Cof$ I felt I was “the only one” and that it was only me who was messed up. I had my own sort of PTSD going on of rejecting EVERYTHING Cof $ related, which was like throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
    It wasn’t until I found Marty’s blog that I found stable datums to realign my thinking with what’s truly me and what I truly believe and feel for myself versus others. Only then could I truly progress on my spiritual journey.

    • And we love taking the photo shots! Those guys need to see some love. ;)

      Marty’s blog played a vital role in my ongoing recovery as well. It was so great to read stories from others who had been in the church. I suffered in silence. Now, at least, I was not alone.

  15. Ah shit. I thought I was past all this Scientology crap. It appears I’m not, and I’m only just *starting* to come out of it.

    Just like you Anette I’m a strong tough smart rebel, and not about to get taken in by a cult. Or so I thought. I read what you experienced and as much as I tried to ignore the thought, it kept coming into my head: “I’ve experienced that too.” Sleeplessness? Yes, I have that. Inexplicable pain in weird places? Yes, that too. Migraines? Well actually, mine got less – probably some kind of stress-relief. Panic attacks? I don’t know how to recognize those but if it’s the moments when I can’t breathe, get nervous and feel numb, paralyzed and unable to move, then I get those too. Sometime 2 to 4 times a day…

    The wake-up call was the list of PTSD symptoms; I didn’t want to look at it or read it. Dammit, I DIDN’T WANT TO READ IT!

    Some part of me said I should read it. This time, I got lucky. This time, I didn’t gloss over and ignore. This time, I took every item and asked the question “Do I have or suffer from this item at this point in my life?” Answers were to be yes or no.

    15 yes answers.

    Shit.

    I got taken in by a cult.

    The worst part is when I find myself shouting at my kids for no good reason and sometimes the reaction is so over the top I astonish myself. Like smelly socks on my 16 year old son’s bedroom floor – he’s 16 and a boy! he’s *supposed* to leave his socks lying around! No parent in the world has ever handled this one properly – the 16 year-old’s first real girlfriend is the only person that can do that :-)

    But I digress.

    I do have amazing people around that make this mindfuck easier to deal with – no-one at work is a Scientologist (we are all internet geeks) and there’s a special lady called Tania. Half English and half Greek, when I have issues to deal with she will either listen quietly and not judge, or go into the kitchen and cook food to feed an army. And that is the best thing she could possibly do. Yes, she is very special :-)

    Alan

    • Oh wow, Alan. Thanks for your sincere answer! By reading lots of books on sociopaths, cults, etc. I could see that my sufferings were the same as those victims. And I manifested the same symptoms of those returning from war.

      I had no clue… Then I started to educate myself further on the topic of PTSD. Very therapeutic to realize my “condition” had a name. Not the name in itself, but it gave me hope there would be solutions to it. Stress management is one. Being exposed to stressful situations daily for years has its price. The body adjust accordingly and created stress hormones in excess. The breaking down of those makes your body toxic. All organs are working hard to clean out. You gain weight, or some perhaps loose weight. Your system is overloaded and out of balance.

      When later exposed to “normal” stress, the body reacts like it’s in a middle of a battle field, and hell breaks loose. I could cope with lots of stress before. Now, I have a hard time to handle it, without getting emotional, a stiff neck, headaches, you name it.

      I could hardly have any mess around me. I had to put everything in order, or I would be stressed out. Now, I have gradually learned that living in a not so perfectly clean show room without any mess can be possible without experiencing stress or sorrow. Ha ha. When “things” inside are a bit messy, it’s important to not have messy surrounding to a certain degree. But I took that too far. Now, I have learn to say FUCK IT (again). What a pleasure! ;)

      I highly recommend you read the wiki entries on PTSD and C-PTSD (complex PTSD, which I can relate to the most). Looking forward to hear what you think after you read them.

      Best of luck!

  16. I didn’t fully read the articles yet (that’s a LOT of information!), but skimmed most of it, concentrating on the sections describing it and (non-drug) handlings.

    It was worth while reading, here’s what I got so far:

    - I got off lightly, so many people had it so much worse than I (I never got to experience the crazy that is OT levels at an AO). This lets me chill out, if so many had so much more to deal with and they got through it, then I can too!

    - Just recognising what is going on is hugely helpful.

    - Irregular meals, no exercise, too much coffee and waaaaay too many cigarettes is not helping AT ALL. It just makes it worse. The body needs food and exercise and less poison (this one is going to be hard)

    - a large part of the problem is that I’m your typical computer geek with all the caricature OCDness geeks are assumed to have. Yes, I obsess about some weird stuff and have done since childhood.

    I used to thrive on stress and would welcome it. That’s the good kind, the stress that comes from making progress and building something awesome – I need to get back to that place as I’ve lost much of that motivation. I used to operate on the basis that I could probably do tasks that came my way, for several years it’s now been the other way round and self-doubt rules. This is not a comfortable place to be in.

    I must practise Fuck It! more :-)

  17. It’s good to hear your story.

    I’m glad you’re out of the CoS, out of an abusive relationship and in a relationship with a great guy like Geir. (I may disagree regularly with him but that doesn’t mean I don’t see and respect his many admirable qualities.)

    I was lucky and left the CoS quite unscathed by bad experiences, so when I read some of the things that have happened to others I feel shock and dismay at what Scientology has become.

    When it comes to responsibility I believe we are responsible for our own actions. That makes an abuser responsible for his actions to you. It makes the senior responsible for incorrect or abusive actions on a junior. I can understand the double-think idea that we are responsible for everything that happens to us but I disagree that it applies at the level of humanhood.

    As for similar experience, I had none while inside the CoS. I discontinued my close connection to the Church because I could see the writing on the wall, so to speak; the direction of things to come. That was pre-GAT1. I didn’t know it was DM who was responsible for the decline I HAD witnessed until reading Marty’s blog.

    Some years after I left I began experiencing pain but recognized it as stuff from my case. I had a choice: go back into the squirrel cage or try handle it myself. I chose the latter. I already knew I could blow pains and stuff but had considered doing that would be self-auditing that would eventually cost me – if I returned to the squirrel cage. I knew what I was in for if I returned (Clear status cancelled, NED to be eventually run – horrid thought!) and knew that was all just a bad idea. So I applied what I knew. I used the early data of Scientology to blow this stuff. It became easy and I could blow multiple pain points at once. It got to a point I had literally none left. I applied the same technique to the other thing that had emerged – feelings of rage. And blew those, too. I thought they were just old engrams in restim, or whatever, so were “nothing to be concerned about, just blow them.”

    It wasn’t until about a year ago when I read an article by David St. Lawrence that I began to understand what was going on. The data he supplied filled in the gaps and gave me a much better understanding of my mind and case.

    I consider his blog and the data he presents as invaluable and empowering. He presents a way to actually achieve being responsible for your own case in a very constructive manner. I hope you will check out his site at least for the data.

    However you tackle the charge and scars of the past, I am sure you will ultimately get through it. You’re now in an environment where your basic strengths and understanding will help you sort out the past and allow you to make any gains you desire.

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  19. Anette:
    When you were subjected to a lot of stress there is a depetion of two essential ingredients: calcium and magnesium BUT in ionic form.
    When you replenish both, the joint pain will be history

    • Thank you, Ed, for your reminder. I felt a lot better during summertime; vitamin D supplements and the sun make wonders. But now it’s getting colder, I start to feel slightly worse. So I’m taking extra oils now. I will also dust off my box of CalMag.

  20. Hi. Great to hear you are out and that you are doing better. Also that you are together with another SP ;-) will do you good, because its sometimes hard for the ppl around us that havent been in C.O.S. to understand the aspects of being part of the church. The methods,strange vocabulary,mindcontrol etc.
    Im also a norwegian that been a part of the church and narconon in both sweden and denmark and ive been out some yrs my self. Wish you all the best.

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