I finished Leah's Remini's book Troublemaker, Surviving Hollywood and Scientology. I listened to it on Audible. I know I go on and on about how great audible is all the time, but just to reiterate, I literally had Leah herself telling me her story.
I very much enjoyed her book. It was interesting to hear a story that was happening parallel to my own, in the same locations with many of the same people and yet from a vastly different perspective.
As someone who has been on the butt end of the press's unlimited ability to make every important story regarding Scientology into a statement about Tom Cruise (and sometimes Brad Pitt or even Bono), I was a little bit apprehensive to fall in love with Leah or read her book which was beginning to sound more like a celebrity "tell-all" from all the media surrounding it.
Yes, I do realize that celebrity is the vehicle by which people become aware of the human rights violations ongoing in Scientology. But its still hard to hear about Tom Cruise's wife auditions yet again because although the (auditions) story is horrific, it still pales in comparison to the stories about abandoned children, sexually abused, deprived of an education and family and physically beaten and who are still struggling every day with the aftermath of this. I know many such victims who have given interviews, done book proposals and even gone to court only to be denied, cut out of the show or let down because it wasn't salacious enough. I myself experienced this for years before my book was finally picked up.
However as soon as I started listening to the book and learning about Leah's beginnings starting with her relationship with her
abusive father, her family life, how they got into Scientology, how things led
up them moving to Florida and she and her sister joining the Sea Org as
teenagers, then later leaving and dealing with poverty, it
actually made me respect her more as a person. She didn't get life
handed to her on a silver platter. She had to work through some very tough circumstances for everything she
has now and did so to care for her family and remained loyal to those who she called friends along the way.
Her candor about her own vulnerabilities and her self depreciating humor made me relate to her story and I found myself completely drawn in and unable to stop listening to it. Her straight talk, with swear words and all, is refreshing in a world with all of its
political correctness, trigger warnings and people being constantly
offended about everything.
Her diva, ham and borderline obnoxious personality is what makes her unique. If we didn't have people like her in this world, life would be black and white. Leah is neon pink which is a color that some people may not like, but its my favorite color.
I have a theory, one that I've thought a lot about in recent years, which is that the type of person who people often describe as "rough" or "a lot to deal with" are more often than not the kind of people who would put their own butt on the lines for their friends. Conversely, that person who everyone loves because they are so easy-going, cool and never confrontational will probably take that same (easy and non-confrontational) course when the going gets tough and do what is easy instead of what is right. But the one who is a "bitch" will have your back. I actually discussed this briefly a few months ago in this post.
Here are a few of my favorite lines from the book:
"What I have slowly come to realize and often still have to remind myself of is this. There is no right way to be. I am flawed and imperfect but am uniquely me. I don't fit in and probably never will and I don't have to try to anymore. That other person was a lie and lets face it - normal is boring. We all have something to offer the world in some way. But by not being our authentic selves we are robbing the world of something different, something special.
"If there is one thing I can brag about and be proud of in my life its my dedication to friendship. If I call you a friend I mean it. You are now on par with being a family member. Friendships are not made overnight, it takes time, effort and energy. For me, friendships are not tested in the best of times but in the worst of times. You don't always get a second chance to be there for someone when they really need you so when I say I will be there for someone, I mean it. But when I need you -you better be there! Everyone has deal breakers and this is one of mine.
"Finding real friends who will step up and do the right thing on your behalf is almost impossible as well.
"Stupidly perhaps, and sometimes at the cost of my own job or being labeled "difficult" I'm willing to say shit to people no matter who they are and what the consequences may be and yes in the end I'm probably cutting off my nose despite my face - but that's who I am."
They say bravery isn't about being unafraid, its about being afraid and yet doing the right thing despite your fear. So kudos to Leah. I know her bravery has given hope to many people and will draw attention to other brave peoples stories such as Marc and Claire Headley, Amy Scobee, Jefferson Hawkins, John Sweeney, Kate Bornstien, Paulette Cooper and so many more.
I only wish that she'd chosen a Taylor Swift song instead of Katy Perry on her DWTS showdown. I'm totally team Swift.