Singer – Entertainer – Abusive rights activist
You know, I've written this, deleted it, re-written it and deleted it again. I get into it and it becomes so real that I think the realness and passion of it will totally overwhelm me. So, alas, I'll write it again and perhaps this time something will come out of me that didn't before and will benefit us both. I need to say that I can't talk about my experience without talking about my experience with the Mormon church. For years, it was one in the same. So much of what happened to me at home is a direct response to what we were fed from the church. I've since left the church completely. If this offends you, please stop reading.
I was born in Boise Idaho, I was given up for adoption before I was born so upon my arrival, I was taken away into the nursery never to see my biological mother again for 28 years. I was given to a Mormon couple a few days later and I became a Crandall. My dad was an accountant and my mom a housewife. My mother really really struggled with her self esteem and her anger and personal behavior in her interpersonal relationships with her family. I won't talk for my siblings, but for me I was screamed at, hit, threatened and felt like if I didn't tow the line, she was going to kill me. I really thought that. Her eruptions were so violent that I don't even remember being a child. I remember being a physical child, but emotionally, I never was. My dad was happy to be quiet, and not stand up for anyone...including himself. I realized early that going to him for protection was fruitless.
I was raised a fully active Mormon and that meant I was never allowed to be anyting but "happy" and all feelings that weren't "happy" were not allowed. The way I survived these almost daily doses of hell, I became a peacemaker, a housecleaner and a babysitter all in an effort to keep mom happy and defuse any potentially hazardous situation which would, could and did errupt at any time.
Being abused almost daily really made me question my basic being and being raised a Mormon and it's many, many restrictions and co-dependent teachings really wreaks havoc on a young girls self esteem. I'm sure there are many who would disagree, but when all you hear at church is "...lean not unto thine own understanding"..."the natural man is an enemy to god", "all men have sinned against god" etc., you start to internalize the fact that you are worthless. I think I was so scared of "god" and of my mother that I tried to be as perfect as I could, as I was terrified to step out of line. I bottled up all my "human emotions" and kept them safely hidden away until I was safe enough to finally let them out.
Through all of this, I always knew I could sing and I took advantage of that all through grade school, Jr. High and High School. I was in all the extra curricular choirs. Looking back that saved me. I had a wonderful healthy choir teacher that gave me a piece of "me" everyday and actually respected me and that was the only taste I had of that in the outside world. In the church every single thing you did was questioned and "bad", but for that hour or two at school in choir, I was somehow ok, and that really made a difference.
I ended up going on a Mormon mission when I was 21 to Scotland because it wasn't ok not to absolutely KNOW what you wanted to do with your life. I had just come out of a relationship and I needed to do something, so as I was unmarried and that was a black mark in the church, I decided to go on a mission. At the time I thought my feelings about the church were so strong that it would be easy to go tell the world about the church. Holy cow, what really happened changed my life forever. I had always thought I could handle just about anything from growing up in the household I did, but when I got to Scotland and away from everything at home, I began to be aware of what happened to me growing up, and everything that I thought made me "me" fell aside. I didn't now yet what it was, but I knew something was brewing in me that demanded my attention. I was being awakened to "ME". To make a long story short, in order to survive that year and a half, I had to stop thinking about other people's feelings or judgements about me, and start thinking about Lori, and surviving the experience. It was then that my feelings about the church began to unravel, and because the only basis of "me" was based on the church, that began to unravel as well. No one had ever taught me that it was ever ok to think about "Lori".
It wasn't until a few years later when I moved back to Boise and was ignored in my plea to not be involved in any "calling" or "unpaid job" in the church, that my decision to completely sever my ties with the church came to an end. Somehow being about 24 years old and having such a desire to feel like a woman and have a successful life was battling what the church was making me be. I was seen as a child still incapable of making my own decisions and having to "obey" some sort of "authority" some man had over me and would have over me the rest of my life. I was forced to give all my time, talents, and everything I had emotionally to the church and to forget my self and somehow, this invisable god would "bless" me for it. All that happened is that I ran out of everything I had to "give" and was literally forced once again to look at me. This time it was so prevelant that I could no longer attend the church because it was literally killing me. Through some serious study of human behavior, of verbal and emotional abuse, through having the courage to really study the realities of what the Mormon church claims to be true and what really is true, I began to completely reclaim "ME". When I allowed myself to listen to my own heart and mind and instincts, I felt alive again.
It was at this time that the tv show "Xena: Warrior Princess" came on the air. What amazing timing. Here was this woman that strong and powerful and fighting the wrongs in her life and who was allowed to cry, to be happy, to be hurt, to be wounded and look beautiful doing it. All my life I had to wear the "Mormon Smile" and that was just like being a robot. After seeing Xena, I knew who I wanted to be. I wanted to be human and allow myself to feel whatever I needed to feel at the time. And what I felt was anger and betrayal. I tried to talk to my family about it, but they rejected me and told me to never talk about the past. Ultimately I was forced to leave and having no money, having just a few clothes, I was left without a family or a friend and I drove away. Looking back the pain feeling was so horrible that the only thing that kept me going was knowing that I wanted to be able to cry like Xena could and feel like I existed and I would search the world until I found a safe place to do that. My journey took me through almost all of the 48 lower States, and two homeless shelters. I didn't mind that because it was my life and I was making the decisions and no one could take that away from me anymore.
Eventually I made my way to New Zealand and have lived here for about 4 1/2 years. I have produced my album and have been able to work through my anger. I'm just now able to see things in a different light. I know if I wouldn't have come here and taken the time to heal, I don't think I'd be alive. The pain of realizing your family is hurting you and they don't care and they don't want to care can rip you up inside. I always thought family was stronger than anything. That is the big selling point in the Mormon church. But the truth is, the church comes first and if you question it...you are out of the club. So, I've felt a vagabond a bit, I've had to be a "Xena" of sorts and survive under really horrible circumstances at times. Yes, I've starved, I've lost my car, been absolutely broke, and yet again, knowing that I was finally calling the shots of my life, well, that made it bearable.
I did have a Near Death Experience through all of this, and I was "found" by my birth family who unfortunately were also raised in the dogma of the Mormon church and therefore have issues relating to judgement on people and I've chosen to not be close to them. I hate that choice, I really do, but again, I'm not going to live in a situation where I'm being torn to shreds and threatened, abused, judged etc. I've had enough of that now.
I've learned something very valuable through all of this. That is that all of us are totally individual. It doesn't matter a hill of beans who your biological, adopted or otherwise parents were. It means nothing. The only thing that matters is who YOU are. Being adopted I used to think when things were so bad at home that I had this mother somewhere that really loved me and who thought of me all the time and given the chance she'd run to me and take me in her arms and love me forever. I think every adopted kid thinks that. It wasn't until I met my birth mother that I learned that not every woman wants to be a mother. Not every woman loves her children. Not every woman should be a mother. I'll always be grateful for her for showing me that. It knocked me out of my naivite'. It knocked me into the real world and forced me to grow up in a way that I never knew was possible.
So, with that knowledge, I'm hoping to share with the world my voice, my strength, my power and let humanity know that they are stronger than they have any idea. We as humans are capable of amazing things, both good and bad. It is a choice which way you choose to go. The day comes after you let yourself heal from the wrongs that were done to you that finally graduate to a place that you know your future is all up to you, no one else, but you.
I'd like to personally thank a few people for helping me stay alive in journey. Thank you to Lucy Lawless, Renee' O'connor, Jane Seymore, Brandi, Whitney Houston, Oprah, Tina Turner, Debbie McLain, Stuart Baty, Linda Schmidt, everyone in Massachusetts, the Internet, everyone in the Ex-Mormon community and Toyota for making a fine, safe vehicle that carried me across the US safely. The things you take for granted, you suddenly become so grateful for.
I know I'm not alone, I just don't rely on invisable gods anymore. I rely on me, and people around me who want the same things which are...empowerment, self love, realness, and a healthy future.
Always remember that the most important person in your life has GOT to be YOU. Everything else falls into place once you've got you.