It can be a shock. Depending on how deeply one was into Scientology, whether one was on staff or in the Sea Org, it can be quite traumatic and can take quite some time to recover.
Often, upon leaving, the newly ex-Scientologist still feels that they are "a Scientologist". If the person has been kicked out rather than leaving voluntarily, they may honestly intend to carefully follow all the steps so that they can get back in "good standing" with the church.
If the person is leaving voluntarily and no longer wants to be involved with David Miscavige's Church of Scientology, they may need to hide that fact, because they work for a Scientologist, or because family and friends are still Scientologists.
It can be confusing and difficult.
Here are a few suggestions that might be of help:
Stop thinking like a Scientologist.
This may be the most important first step. The longer and more deeply you were involved in Scientology, the harder this step will be, but it can be very helpful.
One of the major difficulties you, as an ex-Scientologist, face is integrating back into the real world. You don't know the correct terms for things, other people don't know what you're talking about. It is very much like you have just arrived on Earth from an alien planet. You're talking about "ARC" and "enturbulation" and it doesn't communicate.
Stop thinking and speaking using Scientology terms. Find out the real world way to say what you mean and use those terms. At first, you may find this quite difficult, but the rewards of doing so are tremendous. One of the side-effects of eschewing Scientology concepts and terminology is that you become free to think new thoughts. For anyone in Scientology for a long time, the experience of thinking new thoughts can be very exhilarating.
Stop following church rules and mandates. You do not have to do things "per policy" any more. Church policy is for their benefit, not yours. You do not have to do anything the church "requires". If you need to deal with the church, find out the standard, real world way of doing it, and do it that way.
An important part of this is: Do not disconnect from your family and friends. While they will undoubtedly be forced to disconnect from you by the Church of Scientology, you are under no such obligation. One ex-Scientologist said this when a friend tried to disconnect, "I will never disconnect from you. You will always be my friend." I think that says it very well.
One note about the myriad of "contracts" you were required to sign by the church. I am not a lawyer and so, if you have questions, get a lawyer. But, most of these "contracts" are, in my opinion, invalid. Think about it. Did you get your own copy, signed by a church representative? Was the contract binding on both parties? Were you allowed to obtain legal advice before signing? Was there quid pro quo, or was it all one sided - on you? In many people's opinion, those "contracts" were designed to threaten and intimidate Scientologists, but have little or no legal validity. It's pretty obvious these "contracts" would be very difficult to enforce in a court of law.
On a related note, those ridiculous "freeloader" debts are not in any way legal. Just imagine that going to court. "Let me get this straight, you paid this person how much per week? And now you're sending them a bill?"
Don't say anything if you don't want to.
You are under no obligation to "disclose all" to the church. If you work for a Scientologist or you have good friends and family who are still Scientologists, you don't have to "announce" your departure. That's church policy -- which you are no longer following.
Now, I have heard that, recently, David Miscavige has been declaring people "Suppressive" just for being inactive! Can you imagine anything more insane? If that's the case, even if you say nothing you may eventually end up "declared" anyway. For this reason, if you work for a Scientologist, it is important that you work to find another job as soon as you can. Staying silent about your leaving Scientology may give you the breathing room to disentangle your life from Scientologists without too much stress.
You are not "Suppressive"!
Many people who have been kicked out of Scientology, think they are "suppressive". While David Miscavige can "declare you 'Suppressive'," you are definitely not a "suppressive person". Because of Miscavige's insanity, there are probably more "declared Suppressives" than there are active Scientologists! It's insane and it's meaningless.
Scientology plays on guilt very, very heavily. Despite Hubbard's claim that "man is basically good", the real basic premise is "you are so, so guilty". To the church, your thoughts are very bad. You must spend hundreds of hours and tons of money going through endless sessions to uncover all your "evil intentions". As a result, Scientologists think that they are evil, rather than good. That's Scientology in action.
But you are not evil. You were gullible. You certainly made mistakes, but you are probably a better than average person because you wanted to help. You got involved in a group that promised to help people. It didn't, it doesn't, and you left. Seems reasonable, not bad.
Of course, Miscavige doesn't like you, but then he doesn't like anyone, so who cares?
Some people have the idea that "they failed". Somehow, they "let the church down". When you have more distance and better perspective, you will see that it was the Church of Scientology that failed -- and failed in a big way. If you feel you "failed", give it some time and you'll see the truth of it.
Get more information!
Being inside Scientology, you've been in an information vacuum. As the old joke has it, you've been a mushroom: Kept in the dark and fed a lot of fertilizer. You need information and you need lots of it.
The amount of information available is overwhelming. Some of it is quite false, much is true but unbelievable. Most of the information from the church itself is false. It can be difficult, at first, to determine which is true and which is false.
You have been told, by the Church of Scientology, that the information will kill you. This is a complete and obvious lie. People have been reading all of the available information for decades and no one has even gotten ill from it. You can read it, even the "OT confidential" information.
A good starting place is Wikipedia.
The information about L. Ron Hubbard, especially the information from his own letters, his own diaries and his own statements is very important. This stuff has been viciously suppressed by the church but you need to know it.
Second in importance would be the stories from behind the scenes, from high level people who were there and who have the real story of what went on in church management.
After that, read lots of stories from other people who have left. It is important to know that you are not alone. Others have gone through exactly what you are going through.
There are many resources available to help ex-Scientologists. It is absolutely amazing. A lot of people have gone through what you're going through and want to help you.
Get in touch with other ex-Scientologists
One of the things that is very helpful in recovering from Scientology is to talk to other ex-Scientologists. There are quite a number of forums where you can do this -- even anonymously. This is highly recommended. At first, you should just lurk and read. When you feel ready, make yourself known. You never have to give your real name unless you want to.
Coming out of Scientology, you are probably deeply in debt and may be looking for new employment. You may be wondering how to get your money back or perhaps just need someone to talk to who knows what you've been through. Other ex-Scientologists have been there and are eager to pass on what they've learned.
These, and other sites, can be tremendous help. You are not alone. You have friends.