this multiseason regular of AMC's "The Walking Dead" knows exactly who she is.
CARIANN: Thank you so much for being so flexible and being willing to talk to me. I really appreciate it.
LINDSLEY: For sure, for sure.
C: I’m thinking I can tell you a little bit about me, just to give you a little bit of background.
L: Yeah, please do.
C: So, I’m not sure how much I told you about our other platform, but it’s called Midnight Woman. It’s a brand that I run that l’Odet sort of sprout from. That’s how this project started. I started it pretty soon after I got out of college—I’m young, only 24.
L: Where did you study?
C: It was a pretty small college called Lee University in Tennessee.
L: Yeah! Oh yeah. I know Lee.
C: Oh really? [Laughs]
L: Yeah, because I went to Liberty.
C: Ahhh, I see.
L: I think at one point it was in my options.
C: Well, it’s an interesting place. I had some…sort of rough experiences at Lee which are what led me to start this brand.
L: Oh, really?
C: Yeah! I had some really great experiences there, too. I was the magazine editor for three years and it was good for me. It gave me a lot of experience doing what I’m doing now. But I was actually assaulted/harassed, kinda that situation at school. I went through this reporting process, and everything you think might have happened, happened. I felt as if I wasn’t really believed, that my sexuality was more in question than what had happened to me; it just became this long and drawn out thing. The dude got to stick around. You know, stuff like that. It unfortunately happens to a lot of women.
L: Oh, my god. That sounds like a nightmare.
C: Thank you. It was. I had to grow up a lot, and I had to grow up in that sense really quickly. This place that I thought would be one of the best places ever turned out to be this prison for the last two years I was there. It was really interesting and definitely grew me a lot.
L: Yeah. I’m so sorry that it took that though, to get you where you are now.
C: Yeah, thanks for saying that. And you know, I sort of came up with the idea for Midnight Woman and the anonymous experience sharing through not having a platform to tell my story.
C: So I started building one, and this is kinda where we are now.
L: I love it.
C: I’m really grateful for everything; you know, we could never be where we are without all the shit happening in our lives. So maybe you can tell me a little bit about you, just background on you as a person.
L: Yeah. I grew up mostly in South Carolina and Virginia. I would say that my journey’s really been shaped by…there’s a lot of spirituality woven in it. I was in some religious environments that really drilled in values that I don’t relate to any longer. When I was younger, I had all these ideas of what I wanted to do with my life and most of them involved elements of white-saviorism. I had thoughts of going to another country and being a missionary. I even learned Spanish because this was my worldview and this was my plan. I ended up going to a conservative Christian university—being Liberty—started studying, and just had this major shift.
I can’t even pinpoint a life event, I think just for the first time, I was thinking on my own. Surprisingly that happened in an environment that confirmed everything I was taught growing up, but it just happened. I started changing some of my spiritual beliefs, which led me away from my original plan of doing international missions. Meanwhile, I’m getting caught up in doing plays there at Liberty, and I fell in love with acting. I realized I was good at it. So I had a mentor figure there who really poured into me, that’s an amazing friend and support group that’s remained constant even today.
I think it’s really easy for me to talk about my career, which I’m thrilled to do. It’s what I love. But I’d love to share some more vulnerable parts of my story with you. That would include that I was briefly married, and it didn’t work out. Turns out my ex-husband is still a really good friend. We talk regularly and see each other every so often. That’s kind of a funny little chapter in my story. Other chapters include my experiences with psychedelics which are really a formative part of my story as well. Ah, I don’t know. We could go so many different places with this!
C: God, I know. You sound so interesting.
L: [Laughs] I appreciate that.
C: Well, you know, I find it really interesting that you bring up your marriage. I’ve talked to some people for l’Odet about relationships and divorce, but it’s fascinating to me. I feel like I’m not personally close with many people who are married—I think I was when I was at school, but moving away from those ideals…like you said, I think I also broke away from a lot of what I learned growing up, too. I think people really resonated with our interview with Hayley Williams because she talked about her divorce, sure. But she was really talking about her personal growth and journey and what’s happened in her heart since. I had so many people reach out and tell me that it’s exactly what they went through or are currently going through. So I’d be interested to pick your brain on the committed relationship thing and see what it was like for your—you’re pretty young, yeah?
L: Yeah, I’m really young—I’m 26. I think my whole life I’ve struggled getting caught up in what’s “normal.” Or what those around me were doing. I just wasn’t taught the value of listening to your intuition or breaking the mold—those terms just weren’t in my vocabulary. And so, there were moments where I tried to step out from where the current was pulling me. One of those moments was when I went home and I told my parents I wanted to move in with my boyfriend. It was such…I’d like to use a word that’s like, a step below traumatizing. [Laughs] My parents were so horrified and so disappointed and it was really painful going through that. I was just trying to be brave and live honestly; so much of my life was spent hiding and not telling the truth in hopes of keeping people happy with me. In my mind it was like this great thing to tell them the truth and not lie about it, but it blew up in my face. They didn’t speak to me for the longest time. My sister and I lost our relationship because of it. There was a lot of pressure there and I eventually just convinced myself like, you know what? It’s not even worth it. And he and I ended up getting married about a year later.
At the time, I was telling myself it didn’t matter, we were in love. Let’s just settle it and everyone will be happy and they will all be able to celebrate what I was already celebrating. So, we got married. And we weren’t ready. I still had so much growing to do, he still had so much growing to do. Things fizzled out. We didn’t have proper support—I wish that we had gone to a licensed therapist but instead we went to a pastor. Things just crumbled and I had tons and tons of shame about it. I even had other actors that I’d worked with that knew I’d gotten married, publicly shame me. It was extremely embarrassing. I spent the longest time not telling people what happened because I was so ashamed to be that person who jumped into things and didn’t have them work out, didn’t think it through…I felt really immature. It’s really been a work in progress, ridding myself of all the shame and guilt.
C: God. I’m just so sorry. I went through a period of time where I didn’t talk to one of my parents, but I really can’t imagine how that felt for you. Especially because you were just trying to live your truth the best you could.
L: Yeah, it was tough. I wasn’t prepared for the consequences of it. There are times when you dip your toes in the water and you’re like oh, that’s crazy, and you run away. My whole life has been like I dip my toes in the water and I run away, but then it takes me a while to work through it and come back. I think we have to be so gentle and loving toward ourselves for the times where we tried to progress and it didn’t work out, or we got scared and back off, you know?
C: Yeah, definitely. Do you think that experience has made you more guarded? You said people would actually shame you—like you said you felt shame yourself, but other people were pushing and projecting that on you as well. Do you think that harmed your friendships and things like that? It sounds isolating.
L: It’s funny because it took me so, so long. Even after the divorce had gone through, I was still pretending. Anybody who wasn’t close to me and knew the truth, I would pretend we were still together. The thought of having to share it with coworkers that my marriage didn’t work out…I was terrified. So I waited so long. When I finally did open up about that, to have someone actually, overtly poke fun at that? It was extremely painful. Once I got over the initial shock and pain of it, I was like oh, I just encountered the very thing I was so afraid of. Like that was it, it just happened. It’s almost like I ripped the band-aid off, and I was untouchable. I got through it, you know? It was almost empowering to encounter the thing I was so afraid of, because now I’m not afraid of it anymore.
C: It sounds like you’ve become 10x stronger because of it. I mean I think that happens in the face of any adversity, but yeah. Thank you for sharing that. You’re so brave. Seriously, it is so inspiring.
L: Thanks. It’s taken a long time, but yeah. I’m happy to be here now.
C: I was going to ask, too, if you wanted to talk about your spirituality and how that’s changed. I haven’t talked too much about spirituality on the platform, I think because I’m scared to bring up my own most of the time. But yeah, just being married and giving in to this sort of norm of conservative Christianity…how has your journey changed from being in college and moving to all these new places and gong through the divorce.
L: Yeah. What I was taught was a very narrow, a very black-and-white view of male-father figure God, who constructed the world to operate in this way where we have to choose a relationship with him, or be punished eternally in physical torture. You know, when you’re just a kid that just…part of that sticks in your brain. I still am fighting little pieces in the corners of my mind that still somehow adhere to that. Even though it made less and less sense to me, the older I got. I always say acting is what gave me a peek above the tree line. I feel like I got my head outside of the trees where I could see everything for the first time. Acting made me think about things from another person’s perspective instead of my own privileged one. What I started realizing was that…God, for lack of a better term, was so much larger than I might have thought. And how he functioned just didn’t make sense to me anymore. I started learning about what other people thought about God and what holding a larger view of God might mean. For a while, I just didn’t want to go to church. I had all these weird feelings being there, I didn’t relate to the terminology they would use, I didn’t believe in the message that I was hearing about evangelism and about all these people going to hell. I was reading all these books about what other scholars thought about how things might be. Rob Bell was a big influence in this time when he started talking about what heaven and hell mean.
My spirituality now has been pieced together from so many different things. And it’s so funny hearing myself say that out loud because I would have judged the shit out of who I am today. My sixteen-year-old self is cringing at who I am now. I know what sounds like, too, to the old me. It sounds so woo-woo, so hippy, so universalist. But that word to me now has a much more beautiful meaning. It means that everyone is included, everybody gets taken care of. I go to a church now where like half the population there is LGBTQIA and they’re queer-affirming. It’s been such an amazing thing because I actually enjoy having a spiritual practice again. That is part of me that I never lost. I’ve always had this magical view of the world. Thinking that there’s gotta be more than the science. That’s just part of the fun I have in being alive. I’ve been using she pronouns for God…it’s given me a larger view of who God is. It sounds simple but it just paints a bigger picture for me. I really enjoy spirituality and having spiritual connections with my friends and learning more about other religions. And, you know, taking a break from it when I want to. I no longer carry this burden of having to live a certain way, having to read a specific book, that everyone has to believe exactly how I do. It was so freeing when I gave all that up. Now there’s so much more grace and so much more forgiveness for myself and everyone around me.
C: That’s beautiful.
L: Oh, and psychedelics! [Laughs]
L: I had my first experience with LSD earlier this year. I was nervous about it. I say I’m a highly anxious person. I tend to over-analyze, I am a big planner, I like to know what I’m doing and be in control. Basically what I experienced was so beautiful. I think I am going to say it, I feel like everybody could benefit from trying it. Other than people who could have truly negative reactions to it, so I’d add that caveat. For six hours, you get to have a taste of what its like to shed your ego. You feel united with nature, you really feel like part of it for a moment. And you feel connected with people; being truly connected with people means that we take better care of each other, when we realize that we’re all the same. That’s something I’m still learning and wrapping my head around. I just felt like I got a glimpse of bliss in that time, and I am really thankful for the lessons I learned. A lot of them were practical lessons, too, like to get away from all technology for a time. I remember feeling the wind and being like oh, the wind is my friend. I need to remember. I actually noticed her and could feel her against my skin, you know? Things like that. Remembering those things for me makes life worth living. The experience was totally positive. 10 out of 10, 5 stars.
C: [Laughs] It’s so interesting. I’ve never tried it. I have a history being pretty afraid of drugs…I grew up with cop parents, so. There’s that. I always really need to feel in control, and I don’t even drink that much because it can make me nervous. I don’t know, I’ve heard a lot of people talk about the positive aspects. I feel like especially here in the south, it’s not talked about much and marijuana isn’t even legal here. To hear a positive story about drugs and how they can benefit your mental and emotional health, I think that’s an encouraging thing.
L: Yeah. And I really couldn’t have had a positive experience if I hadn’t done my research going into it. I really resonate with what you about needing to be in control. I did a lot of reading about this man named Richard Alpert. He and a man named Timothy Leary were studying LSD in the seventies at Harvard. They had some really interesting theories about the drug and it’s really interesting. And I am a big believer in ‘everything in moderation.’ Sometimes I see people take a good thing and abuse it until it’s no longer good anymore. I believe that’s totally been done with psychedelics in the past. I always want to be cognisant that I’m not falling into a new trap, and I think that’s a big part of my philosophy. Checking in and setting intentions for myself and honoring them and doing them with reverence. It’s huge for me.
C: I feel like like a lot of religions and especially conservative Christian culture trains us and breeds us to be extremists. It trains you to be so extreme in what you believe and even in believing everyone else needs to believe the same thing, that’s just so incredibly intense. I’ve realized that I have some trouble with extremes. Even though I’ve come out of a lot of my conservative ideals, like you said, I can jump into…I don’t know, witchcraft. And be like, this is my new moral code, this is it. And I have to be aware to take everything with a grain of salt. At the end of the day you only have yourself, don’t let yourself be so controlled by everything else.
L: That is so true. It teaches you to look at everything as if it only falls into two categories: good or bad. That’s a really simple way of looking at the world and I do really understand now why so many people subscribe to that. It makes things a lot easier. Only two categories? That’s a very easy way of looking at life. It’s actually way harder if you believe there are all these shades in between. That’s how I have to do it now. Now, I know. There aren’t just two categories. It takes more time to carefully consider and explore.
C: Yeah, I absolutely agree. I haven’t really thought about that lately and this prompts me to think about it more. That’s really interesting. Also, I usually ask everyone on l’Odet this, and I think it’s really interesting. I usually ask if you could go back and talk to your younger self, what advice would you give? Or if you were talking to someone who might be in a similar place you were when you were younger, what would you want to tell them?
L: Oh, man. It’s funny, if you could see me I am just smiling so hard right now. I just feel so sorry for young me. I just want to give her a hug. I now have sympathy for her rather than judging her. I think I would tell my younger self some advice, and I’d tell her have more grace and forgiveness for yourself. That’s how you’ll have it for everyone else. If I could add one thing to that, I think I’d tell her to take a breath because she is totally okay, accepted, and loved. She doesn’t have to accomplish or do anything to get that love. Even now I catch myself asking who I’m trying to appease when I do stuff. Even if I never accomplish anything else, I’ll still be a worthy human.
C: Yeah. I feel like most days I’m really proud of myself and how far I’ve come, but a lot of days I block out who I used to be. I don’t have sympathy for my old self, like you mentioned earlier. I just look at her and say, you are a condescending asshole. [Laughs] I don’t even want to think about the decisions I made back then and how I treated people. I think I still have a long way to go in forgiving that part of myself. I think I need to take your advice myself.
L: I’ve always struggled with forgiving other people, and I’m just now realizing that it’s so hard because I haven’t forgiven myself. You can’t offer something to someone else that you don’t allow yourself to have. That’s blowing my mind currently. I’m seeing al the ways in which I need to forgive myself. I love the quote, ‘you did the best you could with the information you had at the time.’ Having that grace for my old self will help me have that grace for other people now.
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Have you been to Midnight Woman? That's our sister.
Midnight Woman is an online platform that welcomes contributors of all kinds to submit personal experiences anonymously.
We aim to redefine the way we talk about what's happened to us, no matter the subject. l'Odet exists for the named to encourage the nameless.
Midnight Woman is an online platform that welcomes contributors of all kinds to submit personal experiences.
We aim to redefine the way we talk about what's happened to us, no matter the subject. L'Odet exists for the named to encourage the nameless.