There was a difference between Leah Remini’s 20/20 interview – full of sass, humor and sarcasm – and her later appearance on Good Morning America.
She looked like she’d been crying. And I get it.
Even a decade after leaving a cult, I still have nightmares, flashbacks, tears and torments about my time at the church.
Except for rubbing shoulders with celebrities, I could relate to every component of her book: Friends “reporting” on my missteps or faults “for my own good”; having every injustice performed against me twisted to somehow become MY fault; being demoted and put out to pasture in ministry for daring to ask questions; being the target of smear campaigns against my character and “spirituality” for leaving…
Oh, and keeping the ugly truths from your closest confidants and your spouse – because you don’t want THEM to question their faith or lose devotion to the church. And trying to make sense of it all, somehow, in your mind – because leaving is simply impossible to imagine.
She tried to effect change from within and found it to be a losing proposition. I, too, was a similar troublemaker – and nearly lost my mind in the process.
My heart goes out to Leah; her break with Scientology is still fresh. My heart swells with joy for her, too, and her new opportunity to live life unchained by the scrutiny of a toxic faith. Upon leaving, she likely freed up (at least) an extra 15 hours in her week that she can now use to love on her daughter and husband, enjoy a vacation, or simply do NOTHING.
Least of all, work on herself.
Oh, she eventually will. But with a whole different, happy spin on growing as a human being. It will be an exercise in love, not in fear.
We who leave got there in the first place because we wanted to fulfill our purpose in life; we wanted to be a part of the huge master plan and live a meaningful life. The predators jumped all over that propensity and sucked the time, finances and joy of living from us.
That terrifying line to cross; to declare “This is over. I’m done. I’m leaving” was way harder than quitting drinking or smoking. Because quitting the church was labeled as quitting God and your calling – and if you quit your very purpose in life, where do you go from there?
I was touched by Leah’s mantra: Look at Nicole Kidman. She left and she didn’t die. She didn’t lose her career. She’s okay. I can relate to this kind of self-talk; it was necessary to fight the indoctrinations that predicted doom and destruction for all who exit the fold.
I was also touched by her disarming honesty about her own faults. An admitted loudmouth, troublemaker, rude girl – she preempted the smear campaign with her own admissions of lack.
How does such a smart-ass like her (and like me) end up getting sucked into such a thing?
The Achilles heal is often the need to feel important or special. To matter. To belong. These are not crazy afflictions; they are quite common. For Leah, she was raised in Scientology; I respect her bravery and am so glad for her chutzpah. Who knows how many other people will be emboldened by her public decision?
What are red flags? The two biggest indicators (in retrospect) are the inability to question and the directive to avoid all negative press or people who have left.
If something is real, can’t it withstand scrutiny?
So yes, I devoured her book and boy did it bring back memories. I wish I could thank her in person and give her a hug. I am rooting for her to realize her dreams; for her to flourish in her career and personal life.
Leah, the best is yet to come.