My Journey into Wonderland and how I woke up to find I was in Hell

A Relationship gone horribly wrong with a Landmark Junkie

October 4, 2007

I am writing this story for two reasons, firstly I hope that by doing so I can warn as many people as possible of the dangers of participating in the hoax that is Landmark Education and second that I might be able to be at peace with what I have been through. Before I begin I would like to stress that I am certainly not an individual that is predisposed to being taken in or scammed. My professional life has been spent dealing with complex, multi million, contract negotiations with some of the most effective and highly trained Salesman and Lawyers on the planet. I am quite literally stunned in the way that my money, my heart, my trust and nearly my own sanity has been so cleverly won over and abused by this hellish organisation. I will actually admit I respect them for that, at the same time as loathing their very existence.

It all started when a friend of mine introduced me to her friend, we talked on the phone, went on a blind date and was totally captivated by her. I was so taken with her apparent joy of life, her grounded and balanced way of viewing the world and her ability to engage me intellectually in a way I had rarely ever experienced in others. A relationship soon developed and I was extremely happy, telling my friends and family I had met someone very special. As I grew to know her she revealed that she was a volunteer for Landmark and explained what a wonderful and life changing experience she had undergone. She urged me to do the Forum which I duly signed up for, trusting her implicitly. When I first saw the program and the hours involved I was a little nervous, but she brushed this aside with words of comfort and things like "You will understand once you have done it".

After completing the Forum I shared with her my experiences both good and bad. I told her that I had sorted out quite a few family relationship issues which she was very pleased to hear. Then the subject of my negative views came up, and her tone suddenly changed and I saw for a first time a side to her that was deeply disturbing. I explained that I had found the hours to be excessive, irresponsible and in fact unnecessary, the "requests" of no drugs or alcohol taking or no bathroom breaks to be totally unreasonable, the tactics used for controlling the environment to be intimidating and so on. Her responses were cold and calculated, actually "rehearsed" in nature, almost as if another being had entered her body. "It's all part of the design" she explained, it just "Works the way it is". I tried to engage in some sensible reasoned debate but to no avail - I was quite simply wrong and I had clearly "Not really got it".

My euphoria rapidly evaporating I decided to just forget about this and move on, not to make "Her wrong" and simply accept that she had enjoyed the whole experience and I had done if only partially. No big deal, we simply had a different perspective.

What I should have done is listen to my voice telling me something was very, very wrong here.

Over the next few weeks I started to notice more and more her very odd behavior. Arriving home at 3:00 AM in the morning on weeknights with work the next day and seemingly endless coaching calls and texts from her "participants" when she wasn't at the building. Time for her very limited circle of friends was almost non existent and also her family which seemed to be limited to phone calls. Every date we arranged would end up being at odd times of the day, often as late as 10:00 PM after one of her Landmark sessions for which she would always be late, accompanied with no plausible explanation or apology. Almost every weekend would be taken up with some form of Landmark "commitment" which of course came before anything else, including our relationship.

Her sisters wedding revealed yet another disturbing trait of this organization. They are told that their "commitments" to Landmark are absolute, not to be thrown away casually. They are told they are being "trained" in the art of living a committed life where they honour "their word" absolutely and without exception. Honorable stuff indeed. But life isn't like that. Sometimes things happen out of our control, or we make a mistake and double book ourselves and things have to inevitably be dropped in favor of the most important commitment. Its up to the individual to decide which one is most important to them. She told me that she had a dilemma, she had used up the number of times she could not attend one of her weekend Landmark commitments and her sister's wedding was coming up and their was a conflict. She told me she was "scared" to mention this to them, but eventually came clean. They told her she was being silly and that of course it was OK and her Sisters wedding came first (how big of them!). She went on to blame herself for being "inauthentic" and that she had made it all up about the Landmark ground rules being inflexible. What she couldn't see was that in fact, IT WAS Landmark that had drilled this into her, time and time again, that commitment was commitment, she had to be her word in every part of her life and THAT was where her fear of asking THEM if she could attend her Sister's wedding came from. The sheer audacity of this situation simply stunned me. In ANY other setting (work or whatever) is their anything that would be more important, more demanding than attending a family members wedding that provokes a cap in hand request or a pre programmed fear of asking for a compromise?

After many weeks of putting up with this, I decided enough was enough and that I needed to let her know "this wasn't working for me". In a very carefully worded and tactful manner I explained that I was concerned about the lack of time she had for us, her friends and family. I told her I was worried about her health, that her time with Landmark appeared to be unbalanced and excessive. It was like poking a sleeping dragon in the ribs, what followed was a barrage of vitriol and personal attacks. I was accused of being selfish and manipulative, how dare I judge her life choices, I was told I didn't understand what she did and that she perceived this as a personal attack on her intelligence and integrity. Despite being shocked at this I pressed ahead and asked her for a compromise. No deal, "I might consider reducing my commitments if you marry me and we have kids, not before."

Needless to say, this reaction deeply hurt me and all openness and cooperation in the relationship rapidly evaporated. A series of tit for tat actions took place resulting in arguments, stalemates and general feelings of anger about each other - not a basis for a great relationship! With things on the brink of failure I was finally offered a compromise, she admitted that she had lied about her commitments and that a compromise was possible, but not for 6 months in exchange for a "More rewarding relationship". I told her about my concerns about more than just her time commitments, about the working for free and other issues which again were skilfully dismissed. Well after a few further rounds of negotiation we split up. I felt totally and utterly devastated and exhausted.

Eventually I began to do some research into Landmark Education, too late it would appear for me to avoid this horrible experience. Everything slotted into place, it all came clear what had happened -

Landmark had coerced her into putting them first, always, and then implanted extremely clever and difficult to argue with statements for her to use against anyone raising concerns.

Landmark had brainwashed her into ever questioning the motives or methods of the organization. She was totally convinced that the organization was benign to the core despite the overwhelming criticism that manages to survive Landmark's overt censorship tactics.

Every single conversation that had taken place about our future had not been between me and her, I was dealing with her spokesman - Landmark Education every time. .

Landmark told her that I should accept her and love her unconditionally, I was wrong to ask her to spend more time with me, her friends or family .

She had become dependant, like a drug user, on the Landmark mother ship and the thought of spending less time there had scared her to the core, the net result was to ruthlessly attack the source of the threat (ie - me!)

Imagine my horror upon realising this had happened to me. Feelings of anger and regret and how I could have been conned like this (I had also been persuaded to do the advance course!). I feel nothing but sympathy and Love for her still and would like nothing better than be able to extricate her from this hellish way of life which she can't see is actually slowly destroying her.

So what can I say to anyone considering undertaking any Landmark Education course or to become involved with any of their converts in any form of relationship?

Think this through very, very carefully.

If you MUST do the Forum

Set clear objectives for yourself of what you want out of it and stick to it. YOU are a paying customer and you have the right to define what constitutes success.

Don't be bullied or be taken in with the double think bollocks. That doesn't mean you can't learn things there - you probably will. Just keep your guard up. .

DO NOT agree to the participation requirements if any of them seem unreasonable to you. I had a beer every dinner break, got up every hour for a break and rejected any attempt to make me stay in the room if I didn't want to be there. .

Don't enroll others if you don't want to - you are NOT there to sell their wares for them .

Don't listen to the rubbish about needing to be trained to be a "Master" in "the Work". That is the hook to make you feel the need for ongoing dependence on the source of ultimate truth, ie Landmark. Its absolutely OK to leave things be after the Forum - ALL their other products are is just more of the same dressed up in cleverly constructed wrappers to extract more money from you and make you feel lie a more enlightened human being - you won't be. .

DO NOT, ABSOLUTELY DO NOT, EVER, IN A MILLION LIVES OR A MILLION UNIVERSES let yourself be enrolled in being an unpaid (or paid for that matter) participant or worker for Landmark. It is the path to having your soul, your life, whatever you remember as being "you" being totally consumed into an evil,, self serving malignant beast that feeds on human fear, loneliness and the need to be accepted

And if you consider any kind of relationship with a Landmarker.

Take some time to work out what they do there and the time commitments and make sure YOU are ok with this. If you are not, run, run away immediately and don't look back because you are NOT going to change them.

Make it clear to them that the Relationship comes first (friends and family commitments aside if reasonable). Ask to be part of the decision making process on them taking on any more Landmark commitment above and beyond those already in place .

If you don't want to do the Forum, make it clear to them that this its completely off the table and any request or insistence you do it will result in immediate termination of the relationship (you need to be tough here otherwise you life will become hell). .

If you do the Forum you will then be treated as a "convert". No criticism will then be tolerated in ANY form and if mentioned will be treated as a personal attack on their innermost way of being. Best avoided then. If you value your independent thought and right to state it then don't do the Forum! .

Don't be fooled by premature protestations of endearing Love, marriage discussions etc. I was confronted with a marriage discussion after 4 weeks of knowing her. Its insincere, and it all comes from their "training". If this makes you uncomfortable then either tell them (in the nicest possible way of course) that this is too quick for you or of course cut loose. Don't let this fester - it will get mentioned frequently as their whole existence is about "choosing commitment". In their world the only way to be committed to a relationship equates to Marriage and they just love commitment in every part of their lives. .

And finally DON'T get involved with a "committed" Landmarker in ANY of the following circumstances.

You like a good debate on current affairs (You will normally be told its all irrelevant and meaningless).

You are the sort of person that has strong views on key life issues (Religion, Drugs, Abortion, Terrorism, Politics etc). You will almost certainly have a different opinion to them on some of these subjects and the discussions will be like taking on Henry Kissinger on Crack. Your view will always be an "Opinion" (Landmark speak for "Misinformed") and you will not be allowed to voice them, well you can, but with the price of being treated like a horrific self obsessed piece of human garbage that should just "Get off it" (Off what exactly? - you will never be told. Once I got off the Sofa and said to her "I Think I got off it now" - she didn't "Get it").

Irony's a bitch isn't it!

You want to see your partner more than once a week and not be told you are being selfish if you mention it.

You are disturbed by your closest and most trusted person in your life seeking guidance from what are in effect complete strangers (their "Coach") on how they can best deal with your "Flaws" and inability to "Get it."


You like to be "Right" now and again (you never will be, Landmark and Landmark's world view is the ONLY thing that is ever right, stupid!).

You are not into group based hysteria and blind acceptance of truth just because a convincing and charismatic speaker sat in Directors chair raised on a platform in order to intimidate everyone, with a bunch of loyal and obedient servants buzz around like programmed bees in a hive, tells you it is.

You think 4 hours sleep most nights constitutes sleep deprivation. Landmarkers are told that the sleep they get is "what they get", after of course all their Landmark commitments have been met and they have "completed" with everyone. Curiously, Landmark are very concerned about people's "Well Being"..apparently. Obviously expecting their unpaid staff to work till 2am in the morning for as many evenings a week that Landmark can coerce them into is not part of this "concern" construct.

You like to experience new things, ideas or concepts from your own point of view and selectively take things on, on your terms, rationalise and critically appraise them before accepting them. Landmark's way is "the only way" black or white, lock stock and barrel, their way...or the highway.

Well right now, I am cruising in the fast lane of "the road back to normality" The particular avenue of hell in question has been well and truly closed off. I hope this health warning helps others before they leap into this bizarre and very unhealthy world.

Copyright © 2007 Rick Ross.

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