This post is dedicated to and in loving memory of Alexander Jentzsch. I never met Alexander, but there is much of his life and circumstances I can relate to as they mirrored my own in many ways.  Alexander was one of so many who lost their lives in an untimely manner – in, around or because of Scientology.

 

There’s really not much I remember about my very early childhood.

 

However here are two events I very clearly remember.

 

First, was the loss of my father when I was 2 years old, which was my first personal experience with Scientology’s practice of disconnection.

 

Second was my mother’s decision to join the Sea Organization. Shortly after my 4th birthday we arrived to the Sea Org, I’ll detail much of that later.

 

So this post covers, in sum, how I “got into” Scientology and how I became another of Scientology’s orphans.

 

I was born in Manchester, England in January 1975. My name at birth was Claire Ward. I was the first born daughter of my mother, Margaret Mary Geraldine O’Sullivan, married name Gen Ward, and my father Graham Ward. My mother was 18 years old at the time of my birth.

 

My parents had joined Scientology as teenagers, before my birth. To my knowledge, my mother was recruited by her brother, Frank O’Sullivan.

 

So you could say my birth was my introduction to Scientology, this is the path that was preselected by default, by virtue of the fact my parents were scientologists. Little did I know the complexities of the web of life I had entered.

 

So to answer the question of how I “got into” Scientology, I was born into it. Scientology was never my “choice”, it was my chosen path.

 

Being born into Scientology is quite like what I imagine it would be like to be born in prison. The exception being that, from the second one can understand the idea, one is indoctrinated to believe that the “outside” world is a dangerous place, full of bad people. The “dangerous environment” as it’s referred to. So in that circumstance, and with a deep seated fear of the real world, how would one leave? It took me 30 years.

 

When I was two years old my parents divorced.

 

Much later, when I was 7 or 8 years old, my mother told me my father cheated on her. She told her version of events:

 

My father worked a job, and every day Gen packed a lunch for him that he’d take with him. Well, the day came when he forgot his lunch.  Being the dutiful wife, she arranged to take the lunch to his workplace so he wouldn’t go hungry. On arrival, she found the business was closed that day, which supposedly led to the revelation that my father was cheating on her. Whether this is true or not, I could not say. I’ve never talked to my father, never heard his side of the story so I withhold judgment.

 

However by this time (and this is the part my mother never mentioned), my mother and father had vastly different opinions on Scientology. My father wanted nothing further to do with Scientology, and from what I’ve learned, Scientology was the demise of their relationship, and was at the center of what led to their divorce.

 

All opinions aside, that rings true for me.

 

I can remember the day my father left. I remember thinking I must have done something wrong or upset him in some way. It made me sad.

 

My mother later told me I stopped talking altogether for a while. Her solution was to take me in to the Scientology organization in Manchester to ask them what to do about it – they told her to tell me what happened and give me the full “R-Factor” (reality factor, Scientology’s terms for giving a full explanation for something so one can understand and relate to what’s going on).

 

So now my mother found herself as a single, teenage mother of a young child.

 

I can relate to the difficulty of the situation she faced, and I can even put myself in her shoes and imagine that she might have envisioned she was making a good decision by joining the Sea Organization. But in all fairness, I feel it would have been more honest if she would have simply put me up for adoption than the choices she made subsequently. That may sound bitter, and yes, I certainly have latent anger about my childhood, but I mean this in all sincerity. As much as I loved and still love my mother, I would not wish my experiences on anyone.

 

When my son turned 4, I was hit with a wave of grief and anger, realizing that I was his age when my mother joined the Sea Organization. And this is what I mean when I say that motherhood helped me gain perspective on my own childhood. I had never really given much thought to the events of my childhood. I had no perspective on what a “normal childhood” was.

 

As a mother, I consider anyone who grew up in Scientology’s Cadet org to be one of Scientology’s orphans. Whether their parents were “there” or not, turning a child over to 18 hours a day childcare simply does not count, by any stretch of the imagination, as “raising” a child.

 

So the day came in early 1979 when a Sea Org member arrived to my grandmother’s house in Manchester (where we were living at the time). This Sea Org member was from Saint Hill, in East Grinstead Sussex and he was here to take my mother and I to “start duty” in the Sea Organization.

 

All our belongings were loaded into the car, and my grandmother waved us off.

 

All that was warm and loving about my life to that point was left behind in Manchester.

 

From this point forth, my life became a dark, dreary and miserable thing, causing me to cling to my mother, who was the last remaining remnant of the life I had previously known.

To be continued….

 

With love,

 

Claire

 

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Comments

  1. nancy says:

    Thank you Claire for beginning to share your orphan childhood. The flashback to my own childhoon, based on my childrens’ ages was so real to me. I went through that process with a few friends who had been “Born into Scientology”. I quickly became so grateful for the childhood I had had.

    I look forward to reading more.

    Nancy

  2. Heather G says:

    Your mum’s name is 100% Irish, Claire. That makes us sisters.

    I can understand the grief when K1 turned 4. It’s one thing to talk about the fact that events happened when we were a certain age. It’s another altogether to be confronted by just how young and vulnerable we were at that age.

    You are being the mother to your boys that your mother was not. <3

  3. MJ says:

    Thank you for doing this, Claire. Your writing is so intimate and poignant. I look forward to taking this journey with you and know that regardless of differences in our childhoods, it will enrich me immensely.

  4. Estelle says:

    That is so awful, Claire. I am so sorry you were robbed of two parents and a healthy childhood. I joined the Sea Org when my kids were 9, 7 and 5, but since I was recruited for a Sea Org post at the local Class V org we remained in the family home and it was not much different to just being on staff. It still scarred my children, but at least they got to go to the same school with the same friends and live in the same house with the same parent. Have you ever tried to find your father?

  5. Bob G says:

    Thanks for sharing part of your story. As I told Tony Ortega Recently the only way to make things better in what I call this org, a “Little Gulag” is to continue to publicize it’s evils. It would be nice of most folks easily realized that the org does evil things in the name of religion and force it to cease and to desist doing evil things, but with so much evil gotten money involved, and with their harassment of critics, it will take awhile to break it down I fear

  6. As I continue my journey through it all and beyond, I find the “Church” of Scientology has morphed into a HATE group. The HATE part of it directly penetrates the nucleus family.
    I am the recipient of a never ending stream of Emails of parents severed from their child in the “Sea org”. Children severed from their parents working 100 hour weeks in the Sea org.

    It is all divide, disconnect, sever the family line and give up your personal integrity to keel over to the demand of the “Church.”

    The “Church” automatically expects to take your children for the Sea Org. Sea Org recruiters literally THREATEN eligibility for your IMMORTALITY, your spiritual advancement, and your Spiritual FUTURE if you counter their recruit cycle as “enemy conduct.”
    Children in the Sea Org are immediately turned against their parents if their parents wake up to the Abuse, Vulture Culture regging, (extortion of money $$$$$)and a host of other enforcement and over the top CONTROL of their life.
    Children are considered Sea org possessions. The nucleus family is routinely destroyed.
    Let’s take the case of Heber Jentzsch.
    Heber was the first person from outside the Int base to be sentenced to the Hole. Heber was “summoned” to Int base from Los Angeles and kept there for long periods of time. Gary Morehead, “Jackson” ex-Security Chief of INT Base told me how Heber had on going punishments with no mercy for his age. Even in his late 60s, he was made to stand on his feet steam cleaning engines of the Sea Org buses. Heavy manual slave labor is a hallmark of Sea Organization “religious discipline.”
    While Miscavige called the shots over Heber’s life, he ruled over ever hour, every location, every comm line Heber had. After we divorced Heber re-married an Australian girl called Jane who worked at OSA. (Office of Special Affairs). She was previously the head of “CCHR” in Australia, which means she had to work at obliterating psychiatry in Australia.
    However Miscavige had other plans. Throwing Heber into SP Hole meant no communication outside the Gulag. 3 years went by, Jane Jentzsch had no communication from Heber. No Email, no voice mail, nada, zippo, nothing. The CULT of Miscavology can order cut communication just like that.
    Fed-up with being a “wife” on paper with no communication at all with a supposed “husband”, Jane dumped Office of Special Affairs” and Heber. She left the Sea Organization and OSA and routed out. Soon after, Jane’s daughter Alyssa from a previous marriage fled Bridge Publications. (escaped, called “blown” or “Blew” is Sea Org nomenclature.)
    Whereupon, Miscavige ordered that Heber divorce Jane Jentzsch which he complied with.
    There were no children in the marriage of Jane and Heber. Having babies is strictly forbidden.
    Alexander Jentzsch and his wife Andrea were forced by the “Church” of Scientology to abort Andrea’s pregnancy some 4 years ago so Alexander never had a child. Now that he is dead, the blood line of Alexander and Heber is completely shut down. A product the “Church’ routinely seeks.
    I will never be a grandmother. Alexander and Andrea were forced to abort the pregnancy and Alexander is now dead,
    No successive generations.
    The Sea org policy than ran for years actually, decades, against pregnancy and enforced abortions effectively shuts down the blood line of the family.
    The “Church” HATES families and is stellar at splitting up families by flagrantly bad mouthing family members against each other under the guise of “Ethics handlings.”

  7. Marta says:

    Thank you, Claire. So nicely written, heartfelt and sincere. And the website is strikingly beautiful. Looking forward to reading more.

    Thankfully, my husband and I took our 15 month old son and fled the Sea Org together in 1979. We saved the one we could at the time and I’m grateful every day that we did. And still we didn’t open our eyes fully for many years, but again by some miracle we kept our son from it.

    Stories like yours are Why so many of us stay active in protesting, helping wherever we can, encouraging and cheering those who protest and shed light on this cult.

  8. Thanks Claire for that amazing story. I had absolutely no idea. Stay strong. Pete.

  9. Sue says:

    I am so glad you are writing about this too Claire, I have no experience in Scientology but am a concerned outsider, and I think something has to be done to stop this abuse! So this is another step in the way to get there I think.

  10. Chrissie Weightman says:

    Thank you! The Cadet stories are so important to share. Luckily my parents left regular Staff when I was young and wanted a “normal” life for my brother and I.
    I had so many childhood friends who grew up in the Cadet Org and they had nightmare stories. These are people that are now in the Sea Org or at least good little Scientologists.
    It was their stories that kept me from even slightly being pressured to join the SO with my daughter. My daughter, as young as 4 was heavily being recruited. I was told that as soon as she turned 10 we could join and maybe even 9. I always emphatically said no and so did my daughter but the pressure was there. I hate when I hear they don’t recruit young kids, YES they do!! Ask Breyana, it was constant. Every conversation would end with “so when are you joining the Sea Org?” Ugh but they don’t recruit young children.
    Can’t wait to read more of you story! =) xo

  11. Sindy Fagen says:

    Riveting. Please continue. You are my heroine.

    Love, Sindy

  12. Chuck Beatty says:

    When I was on the Int RPF, out at the “Int Ranch”, we RPFers often passed the Int Base children who were living there, and I began to realize that life for Sea Org kids was NOT the pleasant upbringing it was hoped it could be.

    Communal upbringing of cult religions’ children has it’s ups and downs, and needs to be detailed.

    This all said, some very young children, male, do join Buddhist ashrams at pre-teen ages, and that’s not to condone the Sea Org children “experiment”, but I don’t think L. Ron Hubbard ever had given sufficient thought to the ramifications of having the communal staff, the Sea Org members, bring up children.

    I was frankly deluded into thinking the Sea Org kids “had it pretty good” compared to other children growing up in the world.

    But for sure, it’s a choice they didn’t make, and it looks like many Sea Org children go on to be Sea Org members, as their main logical chosen career paths in life, so it’s a double damned situation for them.

  13. Sandi says:

    God Bless You for sharing; I think putting your stories out there enable us all to help you carry the load, which makes it much lighter for you than carrying by yourself – I hope that’s what you find.

  14. WhereIsSHE says:

    What a strong beginning to your story, Claire. Well done, you.

    To share with others of your having the wish that your mother had put you up for adoption rather than choosing a life in Scientology for you, “orphaned” in the Cadet Org, “disconnected” from your father, is incredibly courageous. That you–or anyone who was “raised” in the Cadet Org– would have such feelings is not surprising; but that you would share such intimate and private internal thoughts with others takes a heep of personal strength. So happy, for you, that you have it.

    The only thing I’d like to add is that I think it’s important for people to take note of the dates. All things were not beautiful and lovely in Scientology pre-Miscavige. Separating children from their parents, teaching (brainwashing) them to fear the world-at-large and mistrust the intentions of anyone who wasn’t a Scientologist, stealing from them their natural childhoods, and all that those formative years entail (including being coddled, coo-ed to and adored, when appropriate) are some of Scientology’s most unforgivable abuses, IMO, and they took place long before Miscavige come to power. (Yes, of course, the Miscavige era has been one of ever escalating criminal and insane abuse, but to pretend that it was all a bed of roses before he came into ultimate power is to deny the experiences and grievances of those who suffered mightily in Scientology before his time.)

    Thank you for sharing, and I look forward to reading more.

  15. Bob G says:

    Reading those stories of ex members, and I could have easily become a member of another cult group is God hadn’t opened my eyes soon enough. From my observations and I am making them from a Catholic Christian world view ( I am saying this so my readers will understand my viewpoint). None of my readers here is required to share my viewpoint and no one will harass anyone, video tape anyone or pressure you to disconnect from family members if you do or don’t agree and I promise no lawsuits if you disagree.
    Anyway, I see COS as another attempt of the “dark Lord” or satan to find another way to enslave or to control, divide and destroy people. As Jesus said “You can tell them by their fruits”. And the fruits I see are lying to the media and anyone else who disagrees with them when they see it to their advantage, developing slave labor camps, destroying families, killing the unborn and others in the Narconon program for example. Threatening, harassing and threatening others so as to destroy human freedom are other examples of the evil. Greed and extorting people for money, slave labor, etc to the point of poverty is another evil. The other evils of this group are, I suppose as Jesus once called “Legion”. And the so Called “Bridge to Freedom” has become a drawbridge to enter the dark Lord’s castle.
    So what are some of the roots of this evil? Others can look at different things but what I see I will call Gnostic pride, which is an evil which leads to many others. This evil consists in believing that those who are higher in the org are more :”enlightened”, more “wise” or more capable than those outside the org and certainly more worthy than non Scientologists. And those who are higher up can consider those not of the org to be, in essence crap and can lie to them swindle them out of their money, enslave them, etc. And those who are lower in the org are also considered lessor beings and can be explointed to the benefit of those at the top of the pyramid scheme or the clears, higher OTs etc. , or whatever they call themselves.
    So it begins with pride and if you add power, greed and likely antisocial tendencies in leaders such as Miscavige, it leads to a real evil mess. Perhaps rather than worry about so called body thetans it may be better to call some strong Catholic priests and to have prayers for a mass exorcism from evil spirits. As for me I will pray to Jesus and to St. Micharl for those still in slavery to that org.
    And for those who have left that Gulag, thanks for the courage to share your stories. I will pray for you.
    Bob.

  16. StillGrace says:

    @Karen de la Carriere : Karen, I teared up when you wrote “I will never be a grandmother.” So much was taken from you, on so many levels. It is unforgivable.

  17. StillGrace says:

    Thank you, Claire, for telling your story. I will be here to listen, always wishing you the best.

  18. Valerie says:

    @Karen de la Carriere : I have communicated with you personally a couple of times about Heber, who i knew back before the evils of Miscavige, and later the loss of Alexander. I spent yesterday with my grandchildren and grieve today that you can’t. I am so glad I escaped before the days of Miscavige. Too bad he destroyed any good there was in so many people and things.@StillGrace :

  19. Valerie says:

    Thank you for your courage and grace in sharing this story. As an escaped SO member I understand some of where you are coming from, well done on getting your voice out to the world. Only those who have been there understand what it takes to do so.

  20. Boson Stark says:

    Since I loved Marc’s book, I’m especially looking forward to reading more of your story Claire. When I was reading his book, I kept thinking how fortunate it was that you married him. Otherwise, you may have been stuck in the Sea Org for the rest of your life. Also, during his whole process of waking up and leaving, I was really curious about what was going on in your life and mind. Now, we’ll find out.
    With the beginning of your story here, I see how poignant it is for you, to now have the family life that you may have had, had Scientology not been there. It’s good for you to have that orientation, and point of contrast. I’m glad that you’ve reached a place in your life, where you want to tell your story.
    As an outsider, when I’m reading memoirs like this, I like when a person can reach in deep and express what they are feeling at the time. So, when you reach that age in your story, where you are thinking or feeling, or made to cut off your thinking and feeling and make it conform to Scientology, just let it all out and tell us what it was like at the time. Remember, that most of us wogs did not grow up believing we were elite or the only ones who can “save the planet, before it’s too late.” I don’t remember much of my own feelings and thoughts about anything until I was maybe 5 or so.
    If you need some inspiration along the way, I recommend reading one of my favorite books, Anne Frank’s diary. As a writer, from her book, I learned that when writing about your experiences and thoughts, whether fiction or autobiography, you can’t hold back anything. I think you’ve made a good start.

    • Claire says:

      Thanks! That’s a great recommendation on reading, thank you! I read that as a teenager, and it impacted me greatly, though I wish I would have acted on the impact!! But thanks for sharing that in regards to the thoughts and feelings, this is a journey that is turning out to be harder than I expected, but I think it will be of much greater benefit than I had envisioned as well. Thanks for joining me! xoxo Claire

  21. Rick says:

    I have a feeling that this blog is going to be important. Tony Ortega over at the Village Voice has taken a time out and I get a feeling inside me that your blog, Claire, is a sort of natural continuation of what has been brewing for some time over at the Village Voice. I feel that other people are now going to begin to pick up on the ongoing exposure of scientology. A lot of people that have benefited from reading and commenting on the Village Voice site and are worried about how to continue (all you need to do is read the comments on the last post written by Tony Ortega) are now going to come over here and subscibe to your site, Claire. The reason I say this is because we all need to hear the TRUTH and this is something that Tony Ortega expressed emphatically over the years and I know that you are doing the same thing. This is a great start. Thankyou.

  22. Poison Ivy says:

    Claire,
    What a powerful and candid beginning to your memoir. The honesty in your words rings from them and brings the raw emotion alive for me. I have never been in Scientology but have been a watcher for decades. Your husband’s book was incredibly moving (as well as jaw-dropping, infuriating and funny!) and I can tell yours will be a strong companion to his.

    Thank you for starting this blog and for sharing with the world what you went through. I’m certain it will help others, and perhaps it will even prevent other children from sharing your fate.

  23. Mrs. Libnish says:

    You had me at “this post is dedicated to….”. My heart is broken for the childhood you never had but I am so impressed with what you are doing with your family today. The instinct of motherhood is strong.

    I will follow this blog until you decide to end it.

  24. Bob G says:

    Clare your story has a place to inform people and yet I have asked Tony Ortega to think of what should follow his work, as he did so much research and with the short attention span of the public it is important to keep the public continually updater on new info on this cult. Thanks for your part in this Clare.

  25. operatingwog says:

    You are totally awesome Claire. But then you are a Manc so it’s not surprising. Can’t wait to read the rest of your story.

  26. Martin Padfield says:

    Frank O Sullivan is your uncle??? Holy Cow. As Sea Org mostly at St Hill through the early 80s I got to know Frank somewhat. I found him quite hard to warm to – but he was a good DofT – he and Chas Kember had quite a booming academy going in those days. That was back in the days when actual delivery took place – seems like such a long time ago now… Anyway, I’m really happy things are on track with you and Marc – Love your blog and loved Marc’s book. Oh, and thanks for your thank you note for my small donation. Keep up the blog – it’s fascinating. (Did you ever have the misfortune of visiting Stonelands when there was kids and Cadets at St Hill. OMG, the stories about that place could fill several books.0

    • Claire says:

      Hi Martin,
      Thanks for joining me here! And yes, Frank O’Sullivan is my uncle. I may have known you, I did training under Frank and Chas and remember that time period very well. And Mohammed, you may remember him? I have many stories of my time at Stonelands, those will come in good time! Stay tuned. Thanks! Claire

  27. Markus Stuckenbrock says:

    Claire, thank you for putting into words what Scientology is doing to children. I was 11 years old when this monster entered my life – I had a loving mother and she found her way out of it after some years . My father is still deeply involved which is still causing so much harm to the whole family. It is so important for me to listen to your story here because I learn to understand how this cult is affecting children when they grow up inside this totalitarian system. I have three halfbrothers who were born into this cult so your story may help me to understand how they feel, maybe even how I could help them to find their way out of it.

    Thank you so much Claire

    Love

    Markus

  28. Martin Padfield says:

    @Claire : Fantastic! I can’t wait to read about it. It was my unhappy lot to have to tell Kalani Frost and the gang in 1986 that kids were now officially banned in the SO. I was Security Chief at the time. That went down well! (Not). How amazing – yes, we probably did cross paths; I guess you were around 11 at the time? One of my worst moments in the Sea Org actually was when I had to take decisive action about one of the Cronin girls stealing mail. Some of the kids were completely out of control but I was utterly wrong to instantly offload her. I heard that she ended up doing just fine and is well out of the cult.

  29. Nice post. I went through the post I found it very informative and useful. Thanks for sharing.

  30. Saya says:

    Dear Claire,
    I am a ex-S. I was friends with Frank O’S. I did write to him for four years when he was on RPF. He had hardtimes there but he never talk about it.
    I try many times to contact him, but the org does not allowed him to talk to me.
    Can you tell me where he is, and how he is doing? I would like to have contact with him, when he leave S.

    Hope to hear from you soon.

    And very good that you left S.

    Warm Regards,
    Saya.

    • Claire says:

      Thank you Saya!

      Yes, Frank is still in S at this time unfortunately. I hope one day he will wake up, but that may still be a while coming. He is newly married. I saw him in June 2011 at my grandmother’s funeral, and of course he would not talk to me or even barely acknowledge my presence unless he was forced to do so by my family. I will certainly let you know when I hear from him though!
      Take care. Glad you made it out!
      xoxo
      Claire

  31. Saya says:

    Dear Claire,
    I am seeking for Frank O’Sullivan for many years. I still have 52 letters of him which he wrote to me when he was on RPF. 
    Can bring me in contact with him? I is my best friend i ever had.
    Love Saya.

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