In spite of the exhaustive amount of information available about Scientology online, in books, and in documentaries, people outside the church still don’t know exactly what goes on behind closed doors with this hot-button religion. What we do know comes from former followers who rarely have anything good to say about the group. On Reddit, former Scientologists are posting about what inspired them to leave the group, and how their experience affected their lives.
These stories about leaving Scientology are from people of different ages, eras, and personalities. Some left due to the costs involved, while others found themselves at odds with the group’s ideology. Many of these stories are chilling, but they’re must-reads for people who are fascinated with Scientology’s grasp on its followers.
From Redditor /u/ Im_so_stupid :
I left essentially when I saw a friend who absolutely was not ready for upper levels spend almost $500,000 on terrible C/Sing [according to Understanding Scientology: The Demon Cult , by Margery Wakefield, C/Sing is evaluation by a case supervisor, or "C/S"] to "get them ready," with that person complaining and TELLING them that they (the person) didn't get it, didn't make sense to them, etc. They... just kept squeezing the stone until it was dry, then dropped the person the instant they couldn't pay - after wasting several years.
Rather than send the person back where they really should be, they just kept "proving" the person was "almost ready," and... just needed more "preps." Forever - or until destruction. The latter is what occurred.
The church leadership was troubling me more and more over the decades since [church founder L. Ron] Hubbard's [passing]. The whole time I was on Solo NOTS [one of the levels of Scientology, defined by xenu-directory.net , a website "dedicated to all the people that have worked to expose the Church of Scientology," Solo NOTS is "self-auditing, solo 'therapy' NED for OTs, New Era Dianetics for Operating Thetans"], which was easily over a decade longer than they like to claim it is, and which MANY people were having that kind of timeline with... [T]he church got more and more militant about every tiny behavior of candidates for completion.
From Redditor /u/zava303:
I was 13 when I was recruited into the Sea Org [the Sea Organization is described by the Church of Scientology as "a religious order for the Scientology religion... composed of the singularly most dedicated Scientologists"].
I worked seven days a week, 105 hours a week. The emotional torment and mind control was very damaging. I was in the Sea Org nine months before I left. And I have never ever had a desire to go back to that!!!!!!
I was a Scientologist for seven years, from 1971 to 1978. I had begun my studies of Scientology in a spirit of enquiry, but as I became more deeply involved, I gradually shifted to a sense of resignation. Scientology had brought me a series of unreasonable ethics cycles, a generally impoverished life, and very little that seemed to justify my efforts, but at the same time, I was generally of the persuasion that the devil you know is better than the devil you don't know, and I found it easier to continue doing what I was doing rather than try something else.
While I was on staff at AOLA [Advanced Organization of Los Angeles], a divisional directive was issued by the Qualifications Secretary... stating that I was not qualified for the Sea Org, but not stating why. This was surprising for several reasons. I would have thought that if my qualifications were under review, someone would at least speak to me about it. I also would have thought that the reason why I am unqualified would appear in the directive. And in the end, no one even told me. I discovered the existence of this directive while I was sorting it into the staff members' in-baskets in HCO [Hubbard Communications Office]. Apparently I was too unimportant for anyone to actually speak to me.
At that point, I was obligated to leave the Sea Org and I did, but I was not obligated to leave Scientology. It was not an expulsion. However, I realized at that point I had essentially nothing to show for my investment of seven years of effort, Scientology was not getting me anywhere, and it was time to admit defeat. I did not immediately realize the broader truth that not only was Scientology not good for me, but it was also not good for anyone.
At first I tended to believe I was just not very good at Scientology. But that was enough for me to have nothing more to do with it. Over the years I came to realize that my unsuccessful career as a Scientologist had more to do with the fundamental flaws of Scientology than with my own personal inability.
All of this happened before the internet era, so information was not nearly as easy to come by. It is now possible to learn the truth about Scientology much more rapidly than I did in the 1970s. I did it the hard way.
From Redditor /u/DarasuumAruEla:
I had been homeschooled or sent to a private Scientology school (Delphi Academy) until I was 13. Then I started public school, and WOW, what a massive difference in lifestyles it was. I saw people behave like... people, and not get blamed for every bad thing that happened to them. It took me several years to be able to talk normally without using Scientology terminology.
I was picked on a lot for being different and weird and culty, and I don't blame my preteen peers. I was definitely weird and had a lot of misconceptions about the world.