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Welcome to we can do hard things. Our guest today can fucking do hard things.

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Yes, she can.

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Oh, my God. Brittany Greiner is a pioneer, humanitarian, activist, and was named one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people in 2023. Also, if that was only a list of five, Britney still would have been one of the five most influential people of 2023. Greiner is an NCAA champion, a WNBA champion, and a two time Olympic gold medalist, winner of the best female athlete ESPY award, and a nine time WNBA all star. Greiner is one of the most decorated and influential athletes of this generation and so much more. Brittany, thank you so much for being here with us today.

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Oh, thank you. I'm honored. I'm honored. I hear that nine times, I was like, wow, you're getting old. You've been doing it a minute.

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Yes. I have to tell you that two nights ago, I woke up at, like, midnight, and I was thinking there was a light on in our room, and I needed to, like, go turn the bathroom light on because it wasn't dark enough. And I turned around, and I see my wife, and she's sitting up in bed, and she's got her rei headlamp on, and she's still reading your freaking book. And I just go, oh, my. I've never seen her do this before in our life together. Then 06:00 a.m. Comes around. I'm always the first one up. Abby's rolling out of bed with your book. I said, what are you doing up? She said, I can't stop. I cannot stop.

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Yes. And just to be clear, I'm not a voracious reader like Glennon.

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Okay.

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I listened to most of the books because your book hasn't come out yet. And I really was interested in this story. I obviously read a lot. We were not as involved as we had hoped to be in many ways, but we got on the phone with Lindsay all the time, trying to figure out how we could help in any way. So I was very invested in this story. And I'm telling you, when I picked this book up, I cried, I laughed, I cringed, and I could not put this book down. Like, job well done. It was engaging, it was heartbreaking. It was harrowing. And to be brave enough to tell this story, I just want to say, like, thank you so much, because it made me feel less alone for making a mistake. It made me feel so grateful to you. And also, it brought up a lot of questions and anger. Like, why is Britney needing to leave this country to go play basketball somewhere else?

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Mm hmm.

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Yeah. Crazy.

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Let's start with that. Let's start with that. So, a few years ago, Abby went to Russia to sit down with you to talk about why you were in Russia in the first place. Can you talk to us? Just tell the pod squad what you were doing in Russia in the first place, why so many women go over there to play the pay gap.

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The pay gap. And what we can make here and what we can make overseas. Unfortunately, it's greater overseas and not here in the US, you know, in our own country. So a lot of us go overseas, like myself, to cover that middle ground of what's being left off, unfortunately.

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Tell the pod squad what you were just telling me about the pay gap with Caitlin Clark. What just happened?

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Yeah. So Caitlin Clark, who we all just loved watching, finish out her career playing for Iowa in college. She was just drafted first, and I think her four year salary is going to be just over $338,000 in four years, which, you know, it's a decent living, but when you compare it to the men's first round draft pick of last year, who he signed for four years for $55 million, that is not even 1%. That is not even 1%.

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What the fuck?

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Yeah.

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Yeah. Wow.

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And to think about the NCAA tournament. More women. More people watch the women's game than they were watching the men's game.

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Exactly. Exactly. Like, it's crazy. They always want to throw in our faces. The viewership. The viewership. Well, that's no longer. That's no longer an argument that you can throw in our faces because we're literally outranking them in, and more people are tuning into our games.

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So frustrating.

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Gap isn't even the right word, is it? No, gap is the wrong word. We need a new word. It's too.

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It's a black hole.

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It's just. Okay, so I am a writer. I write books mostly about my trauma. And I have a rule that I am allowed to write whatever the hell I want to write in my books, but I don't have to talk about. Just because it's in my book does not mean I have to talk about interviews. I feel like the book is a sacred contract with the reader, and when anyone else gets in between, like anyone, an interviewer, I have different rules. I have such deep respect for you. You've been through so much trauma. What are you hoping people focus on in interviews and not because I don't want to ask a damn thing that makes you in any way uncomfortable.

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No. I've always been, honestly, an open book. I think I'm a little bit more reserved now, but I have no problem with answering anything honestly. Whatever sparks up, I'm here to answer it. If it's hard or it's triggering for me, you know, I'll say it, maybe not right now, we can maybe visit that a little bit later. But I'm in a good place right now where I feel really comfortable to do this. That's why I waited too, to actually have some healing before I started doing this. I didn't want to get on interviews or write a book and not be healed in some sort of way, because then it just. It wouldn't be good.

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That's right.

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Good job.

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Good. Okay, so tell us what. How do you describe what the book is about?

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I mean, it's about. The book is legit about coming home, about just my struggles of being over there. I hope people can take that anything can happen, and then you never know what it might turn into and then how much things are not in your control, even though you want it to be in your control. Things are not in your control, and we're all human, we all make mistakes. So I just hope people can take away just how much it took to get me home. It took a village, it took us relying on other people. Me and my wife talked about it yesterday. We both said we're so used to helping people and being the ones helping. We've never been in a position where we needed the help, where we were hopeless or helpless and needed someone to help us. And it was very humbling. Very.

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Isn't it? It's harder, right?

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Very hard. It's very hard.

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Yeah. There's this line I always think of from some poem and it says, we're put on this earth to learn to endure the beams of love, and I always think it's like you're enduring it when people are helping you. It's like, yeah, hard to accept. Tell us what happened that day at the airport when you were trying to get back into Russia to have your season.

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So on my way back, just got done with a great Valentine's Day with my wife and was on my way back, was rushing through all my stuff together. She normally packed for me. I'm lucky, I'm spoiled, but I'm like, hey, I got this, I'll pack my version of packing, throwing everything in my bag and just going. It was a long day. A lot of signs of don't go, but we're right in the middle of. About to win a EuroLeague championship, russian league championship. So I'm like, let me finish what I started. I get to Moscow to transfer over. I went Phoenix, New York, New York, Moscow. I was getting ready to transfer to fly over to Ekaterenburg, and I go through security. They pulled me to the side to go through more screening, and the moment we did it, something just felt off. It just felt weird, the amount of workers working. I'm like, y'all never cared this much, and why are you only pulling foreigners to the side and letting the Russians just walk through? And they start going through my bag. I'm helping them go through it. I'm pulling out stuff, showing them very different from the US.

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And two cartridges come out, two empty cartridges, barely empty cartridges come out, and boom. My whole life just flashed before my eyes.

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So at first, when you, I know, like, getting pulled over in security and you're going through your bags, you're not thinking about this stuff. When you realize that they found these cartridges, is there a part of you that you're like, oh, I'm still going to be able to get through this? Because in my consciousness, I'd be like, oh, okay, just throw them out and I'll go on my merry way. Was that part of your, that was part of your consciousness?

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Yeah, definitely. I'm like, oh, this sucks. You know, this could be a hiccup. I'm gonna have to explain this to my team. You know, they might be mad at me, but I was thinking, like, okay, throw em away. It wasn't like, brand new cartridges, full to the brim in a package. They weren't tucked in the wheel or, like, hidden in anything. So I'm thinking like, oh, they'll throw them away. Give me a warning. Or, you know, some. We could come to a conclusion where I can still go to my team.

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Okay, tell us in your shortened version. Clearly, everyone's just gonna have to read the book. There's no way you can understand this. You have to read it, but give us your version of what happened between then and when you got home.

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Oh, there was a. Oh, there was a lot. I mean, being took away, having all my identification took from me, being paraded around from janky hospital to Janky hospital before I get put in isolation, going into a quarantine room with a knife in it, and I'm like, aren't we in jail? Aren't we in prison? Like, why is there a huge knife here? And why did we sleep with it still in here? Because you didn't do your job and take it back. Being transported by train to a penal colony to a town where there's nothing but penal colonies, being handed over to a assassin's liaison to be my introducer to where I'm about to be living and working now in fabric, because that was my new job now, fabric, working in fabric, sewing and cutting a lot of other things. Visiting male prisons, being put in male prisons at times. It was a lot. There's a lot. You have to read it. Like, I promise you it's a good read. There's going to be a lot where you're like, wow, how did you do that?

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How did you do that?

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Yeah.

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What do you attribute your mental and emotional survival to what saved your life?

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My dad, honestly, my dad was law enforcement, Vietnam. So just him being tough on me, I think growing up and always being completely candid with me and never sugarcoating things as a kid and, like, how life is. And when he used to work in the prisons, him sharing just different things, I was able to use different tactics to be okay, like being aware of my surroundings, watching people, like, how I interacted to make sure I'm in good holdings with them. I think he helped me out a lot through all that.

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Okay, so I also want to ask, because for the average listener right now who might not know about russian law, your cartridge had such minimal amounts. It was. They were basically empty. But was it cannabis oil?

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Yes.

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Okay. Cannabis oil in Russia. Can you tell us in Russia how they think about cannabis?

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Cannabis for them is like, I don't know if someone had fentanyl or something or, like, meth. They've always looked on it like that for whatever reason. You know, I found out being there, that their drug of choice is like the synthetic chemical, and they frown harder on cannabis than they do that. And they call it hashish. They just call everything. If it's oil, it's hash. Everything's hash. It doesn't matter.

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Britney, after Abbie got her DUI, somebody in her life that was a close person helping her walk through the whole thing where she was trying to figure out, do I? Well, I don't think you could decide whether you're gonna tell because your face was on the ticker of.

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No, no. ESPN was I gonna tell this story? Was I read the book, and in the real world, was I gonna talk about it publicly?

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But when they were trying to figure out whether Abby would still be embraced by the world, the person said to her in a position of power, said, you're already queer. Like, you already have a strike against you. It was almost like they were saying, you can't make any more mistakes. As if the queerness.

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Oh, my God.

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Was there any vibe of that for you? Feeling like, are people going to forgive me? Because I have so many things that this culture already decided is too different?

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Well, I mean, I feel like I definitely got some strikes already, if that's what, you know, if that's the terminology, black queer. I've protested. I've used my right as an american to protest against police brutality, which made me un american, which I'm like, makes me more american. Cause I'm using my right. But, hey, it's not getting to it. So, yeah, I was definitely thinking about it before doing it. Like, this is going to be a lot, but I need to do it. Like, I can't worry about the naysayers or, like, what people are going to do or if they're going to give me forgiveness or not, because I'm not looking for forgiveness from the random, average person, but someone that's went through something traumatic, an ordeal, and they feel like they're alone. You're not alone. I'm right here with you. Even the top athletes and top people, where they like to put this unrealistic thing on our shoulders, where we just have to be perfect, and no one's perfect. No one is. So just being able to do that, I think, made me more comfortable to write it and tell the story.

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Can you tell us about the white Bengal tiger and why? The story about seeing the white Bengal tiger and what your connection is to that?

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Yeah. So the tiger. The white Bengal tiger in the zoo, basically. I remember seeing it before, and I was like, wow, he looks really lovely. He looks really sad behind that cage. Everybody's just walking by and just so excited to point and look and take photos. And I've been in those shoes before, growing up, being different than everyone else. Flat chest, deeper voice, tall. I've always been pointed at. I've even been, like, touched before. Like, look, she's different. And being in that jail over there and how the guards would come, just open the little hatch, look in, close it, and I would hear them snickering, going down, or I would hear the american, and then the little hatch would go up. I felt like I was back in that zoo, and I was, like, the same as a tiger.

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That happens. I get misgendered all the time. Bathrooms. And when I read those parts in your book, I don't know how we solve this problem for folks like us. I just want to say that you didn't deserve any of that experience, all of it. But especially what I must assume felt like humiliation and the spectacle that they made of you. You didn't deserve any of that. You are perfect just the way you are.

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I appreciate that. Thank you. Thank you.

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Brittany, you said, I get mistaken for males so frequently, I've learned to just keep it moving. My heart, however, can't always. This is what I'm always trying to figure out with Abby, because it hurts her heart. When we're in a bathroom and somebody says, or we're just. Yesterday, we were in a doctor's appointment. Somebody said, tell your husband to come in. And I usually, like, get fired up and say something which embarrassed her more. What is the heart thing? Because actually, when I ask her lots of questions more, she actually doesn't feel like woman is even the truth of her identity. So, like, what is happening that it hurts your heart?

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I mean, for me, it's just like, it irritates me to the point where I would time when I go to the bathroom, and if I had to go, if I wasn't at my gym, I just wouldn't go. I just wait. I would just wait. Legit wait and to the point where, like, sometimes I make my stomach hurt because I'm just waiting so long. But I'm like, I don't want to have to deal with people. I don't want to have to fight to tell them I can be in here. There's a lot of times where I'll just go to the men's bathroom, and I'll just be like, whatever. Go use the stall in there. Like, it is what it is, but it's hurtful. And I hate when my friends, they'll get really upset and, like, bg, that is a girl, she can go into that bathroom, and I'm just like, y'all, please stop. We're making a scene. Like, please, there's more eyes looking now. They're trying to figure out, like, please stop. But it's just, like, so many people take it upon their self to be the hall monitor. Oh, I'm gonna go police that. Leave it alone.

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It has nothing to do with you.

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Yeah, it's an invasion. And I wouldn't say the way that I dress. I get it. I understand. I'm actually. That's what I'm going for. I'm going for a. Huh? What is that? That's my purpose. And at the same time, I feel incredibly misunderstood for some reason.

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Is it not then, about gender? Is it about being policed? Is it about somebody telling you, you don't belong where you belong.

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That's right.

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Is it about hundred percent?

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Yeah.

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Okay.

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Yeah. I mean, it feels like, honestly, there are probably people who walk in the wrong restroom all the time, and it's an honest mistake. Right. But 99% of the time, people are where they are meant to be.

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They know what they're doing.

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We know what we're doing. So it feels like. What do you think? Do you think I'm an idiot? That I'm consciously. I make sure that my phone's in my pocket, I take my hat off, and then I raise my voice three octaves in case somebody talks to me. I even beat them to the punch. I'll go, hi. Hi.

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Britney is.

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I do the same thing. And it makes me. And then it makes me mad because I'm just like, why am I throwing a little hitch in my walk before I walk into the bathroom? I'm just like. I feel silly. I feel like I have to put on an act to be able to be okay.

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That's right.

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And it's like, yeah, like the boys thing. I can't get it. It sounds weird.

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Same with me. Same with me.

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I have a question for you. Not about Russia. You have such a beautiful relationship with your dad. You and your dad. I just loved that whole. I could feel it when you came out to your dad. No good. It was not perfect, right?

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It was not the best. It was not the best coming out the pops. But I wanted him so much to just be okay right off the bat and just be cool with it. And I was definitely at a young mindset back then, too, which my mom and everybody else in the family, they were like, we were waiting on you to just say it. And I was like, oh, cool, great. Yeah. Those boxers in there? Yeah, those are mine. And I felt like pops knew, but, like, I guess it was a shock for him still. And it wasn't until I got a little bit older that I realized, like, all right, let me look at it from his side. How he was brought up, how he was raised, the town he was. Jasper, Texas. Anybody that knows anything about Texas and Jasper, Texas. It was hard. Like, it was hard back then. And there was a lot of old views. And I'm not giving him a pass and saying it was right, but I understand why it was hard for him. And then in the long run, when we finally talked, he knew how hard it would be for me being out.

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And he just wanted me to have an easy life. He didn't want me to struggle. And I was like, well, dad, I gotta do it. You know, and we're good now. I mean, he calls my wife more than he calls me. Like, I hear him telling her, oh, love you, baby girl. I'm like, whoa, you ain't told me that you love me in a while, dad. Like, hello, I'm your daughter.

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That's so good. So when our son, we have a 21 year old son now, and he came out to us when he was 16, so it's like, four or five years ago. And it was such an important thing for me and my healing because I also did not have a wonderful coming out story with my mom, specifically when he told us that he was queer. We're in a queer marriage. We're like, queer. We're, like, marching in parades queer. We're doing it. And, like, we went into the room and this fear came over me. And it wasn't because I was. I realized then that maybe my mom, I thought that maybe she was afraid of me, but I realized in that moment she was afraid for me because. And especially older, my parents are older now, and they had a different world to grow up in, and they had a different experience with gayness and homosexuality and the fights and all of it and the killings, etcetera. So I deeply understood that on, like, a biological level, oh, the world might not love our son. And that's scary. It was a scary acceptance, and it's fine.

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I don't feel scared anymore.

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So is it just wide open arms around you, acceptance now? There's no, like, I love you, but there's no but?

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That's great.

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No, there's no buts. I mean, it's. Everything is great. I mean, I haven't really said it, but I guess I'll say it now. So we use my dad's first name for our son's middle name, and my dad almost lost it when I told him. When he saw it, he was like, who name is that? I'm like, that's our son's name, dad. And I was like, and that's your first name? That's the middle name. He's like, oh, well, that's all right. That's pretty cool. Thank you. Thank you. You know, like, I could just see his face and his grin. He does. And I was just like, oh, that's awesome. He's so thrilled. So, yeah, it's good to say that. Everything is just. I think he's more excited, honestly, than us. I'm like that.

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Congratulations.

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How much fear and panic and hopelessness. There must have been so much of that during this time for your precious family to now be in that moment where you're welcoming a baby and your dad and the name and the family.

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Yeah. Full circle.

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How is Rel? I am obsessed with her from the book. So can you just talk to us a little bit? How did she do all that? How did she handle that?

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Be in law school.

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Be in law school.

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Take the bar exam, pass the bar.

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Exam while you were in Russia. And also, Brittany, did you have moments where you felt like, holy shit, my country might just leave me here?

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Yeah. I mean, I definitely had those moments of, like, I may be here for the long run, and I had to mentally prepare myself, too, for it, because I was just like, I don't want to get my hopes up. Like, oh, this will be a quick thing. I have to prepare myself. No, you're an inmate. I literally had to tell myself, you're an inmate. It doesn't matter about unjust, and you're an inmate. You have nine years prepare. But my wife, she was a trooper when I say she was amazing. She doesn't like being in the spotlight. She doesn't like, I'm taking photos. She's, like, moving off to the side. I'm like, hey, come over here. And she did it. She did it. It was hard. A lot of me pep talking her through penmanship, which. Oh, my God. Writing letters. I was like, whoa. I couldn't have made it without a cell phone back in the day. Like, oh, my God. It was so hard. I was just like, how do you even write a letter? Do I need to put a header on this thing? And a footer, I guess. I was like, I'm in jail.

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Like, I'm in jail. Informal's okay.

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Informal's fine.

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But, yeah, she did it. She was great. I just told her, think, like, when you're in front of the camera, act like you're in the courtroom. I was like, I've seen you do junior court and all that, and you're amazing. Act like you're talking to the judge. The camera's the judge. The jury is the world. And she killed it.

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She did. I mean, I watched every single time she was on with Gale. I mean, God. Like, the fierceness and also the heartbreak that was, like, you could see it all mashed up together inside of her voice. Like, it was just. That time was so hard for you. I know. And I just also know she went through it, and what a champ she was.

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Oh, yeah. She was amazing. She was a rock star. She was the all star for that.

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It's interesting that you said you had to mentally tell yourself, I'm an inmate. Cause I remember in the book you were saying that hope is only like, I'm saying it in a bad way, but that hope is good until it's not. Like hope can be the worst thing. You almost have to, when you're in the situation you were in, abolish hope to survive, right?

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Yeah, exactly.

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Talk to us about that.

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Yeah. I mean, it was cool to hope and think like, oh, this would be great. But then the letdown was just so hard. I knew they weren't gonna give me house arrests. All those times I had to go back and forth to court, but there was a sliver of hope. There was some hope there. I had to give up because it was just defeating. Every time I would go hear it, defeated, I'm back to myself, depressed, mad at the world and everything. So I just had to stop thinking I was gonna get it. I had to stop hoping. I just needed to wait. I was like, the day the news come, it'll mean even more. Because I was able to forget and just immerse into what my everyday life was. I couldn't look at photos a lot. I would at times, but sitting there and just looking at photos of my family and everybody, I'm thinking of the time I'm missing, how they're aging, how they're growing when I come back, the things that I won't understand when everyone's talking and you're just left behind, the constant reminders. I just have to forget about all of it.

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Okay. And so I just want to just give the listener a heads up on this, that this hope thing is interesting, and it even played a role in when you actually were traded, you didn't know what was happening, right?

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No.

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They were saying, you heard, maybe you were getting out, maybe you were getting traded, but nobody was telling you anything. You even got put on a flight, and the flight landed in Dubai and then London. And then I think in London, that's when the US State Department, Roger got on the plane. Right. And at that point in Dubai. In Dubai. Okay.

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Is that the moment you knew? Okay, I think I actually am going home. Because you didn't know.

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Oh, yeah. Like, at that moment, when I saw Roger come on and he was directed and doing everything, I'm like, okay, it's happening. And then when I got off and we did the cross, I was like, finally. But I still was nervous on the way home because I'm like, what if they do some shady stuff and say, like, I don't know, they sent a rocket and it went to the wrong spot and hit the plane. I literally thought was thinking about all that. Like, I was just on edge until wheels were landed in San Antonio.

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Oh, my God.

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Can you tell our people what that was like? What was that day like when you land after being in a russian penal colony for nine months, not knowing if you'll see your family again? What is that day like when you touch ground?

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Also? I burst into tears when I kept going.

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I know she makes it home. I can do this. I know she makes it home. I know she's home. I see her on the news. I know how this is going to end.

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It was like being born again. But you realize you're able to realize everything. We pull up, Roger Carson says, I can see your wife. You want to switch spots? And I was like, of course. So we switched spots. As soon as I see her through the window, bawling, like, just hot tears, ugly cry. Yeah, I see her, like, I could see her, like, kind of crying, too, when I'm just waving, just, I'm like, please get me there. Let's tag. It seemed like the taxi was so slow pulling up, and then I see the american flag in the background, and she's standing there, and then I'm like, okay, don't trip. Don't fall. You've made it this far. Don't fall. Going down these stairs, trying to get to her quick, be quick, but don't hurry. And I just get all the way over there to her. I grab her. We embrace. Holding her, whisper in her ear a little bit. I'm just like, you're gonna kill me. But I have to. It's been ten months. Little slight grab, you know? A little slight grab. I'm like, you're gonna kill me. She's like, oh, my God.

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Oh, my God.

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I love it.

[00:29:41]

Okay, I have a question around. So I played for the US for many years, and over the many past eight, nine years of my retirement, I've been really, I think, confused with my relationship with my country. Previously, I bled red, white, and blue. I drank the kool aid as a us national team player, and I started to let in more of the harder truths about this country over the many years since I retired. And some of these harder truths affect a person like you, a black woman, more than they affect a person like me, a white woman. Has this experience changed your relationship with your country in any ways?

[00:30:25]

Yes and no. I mean, it means even more for me to put on the USA jersey and go play. But at the same time, I'm not oblivious to what's going on in our world. I would love to say, like, everything's perfect here. It's not. It's not perfect. And I'm still going to challenge my country to do better. I'm still going to challenge our police department to do better. But I'm also a person that wanted to be a cop. I wanted to go into the military. I wanted to do that. I found basketball. But I think my eyes are open even more to fight to make it perfect, because, I mean, we really do have a good starting spot, but that doesn't mean that we have everything, right? But I've seen the other side, and it's way worse out there. So, yes and no.

[00:31:12]

That's beautiful.

[00:31:14]

What will you teach your little guy about what it means to be an American?

[00:31:22]

I mean, of course, love your country, but then by loving your country, that means you have, like I say, you have to challenge your country. Like, I love my loved ones. But they also challenge me. They also have hard conversations with me standing up for what's right, even though, let's say, someone's uncle or dad or somebody's doing something wrong. Like, you have to stand up. You don't just have the blind loyalty of condoning that. That's right. You have to stand up to it. And I think that's something that I'm definitely going to instill at the early age and age appropriate increase what that really means and what's really happening. But I think that'll definitely be something that'll be at the core, in the.

[00:32:01]

Basis, God, I love that people use love your country, but that love is not complicit, blind. It's not love. It's like muscular, real love is looking at the truth and saying it and wrestling with making things better. And loving countries should mean something different. Then people use it to silence other people.

[00:32:25]

Yeah.

[00:32:26]

Yes, they do. Yes, they do.

[00:32:28]

It's that Baldwin quote about, yes, I love my country, and because of that, I will criticize it at every turn, because that is part of love, is trying to make things better. Okay, Brittany, one of the things that felt really touching to me was, so you get home, all is better. No. You go through so much trauma, and you're home, and it must be triply hard, because now you should be so happy and grateful and all the things. But no, you have major PTSD, and in some ways, things are harder. Talk to us about how hard it was to re acclimate and what that time was like when you were back. And if there is anything that you can offer listeners who also are recovering from trauma, what helps, what hurts.

[00:33:20]

There was definitely people that thought like, oh, you're home. You need to be happy. Don't complain. I'm like, okay, well, I'm home, but I can't go to my real house because now I've been labeled as un american. And our old house address got leaked, so we're getting all this hate mail, myself and rel included. And when I say hateful, I'm talking, like, really bad, like, really dirty, nasty, harmful things. So, you know, I never get to go back to that house. We go to a safe house. So I've already been uprooted. Now I'm living out of. My luggage is here. Some of my stuff is still at the house. Got to sell this house, find a new house. So that was just a lot going on. And then having security. Before, we didn't have security, we didn't have somebody in our lives, you know, day to day. And that was an adjustment because it was. It was just us. And now we have somebody that's with us, 24 now. Me giving up the reins of driving, I love driving. So me giving that up for a while was pretty, pretty crazy. And it's like, some people may be like, oh, that's trivial.

[00:34:26]

Like, oh, driving. Who cares? That's my piece, though. That's my.

[00:34:30]

I am.

[00:34:31]

I love to drive. I just go for drives. That's my peace. And I wasn't able to do something that brought me peace. The sleepless nights, like going to sleep and literally dreaming that I'm back there or reliving something that happened while I was there, that was pretty crazy. The nights were bad. Just being angry. There was times I was just angry. I didn't even know why I was angry, but I was angry then. There was times where I was super emotional. I would just cry. Like, I've never been someone that cried watching tv, it was bad. I was just busting the tears. I was just all over the place. And then finding that dynamic, like, I've been gone for ten months now. I have to. What does our relationship look like now? You know, like, things that I was doing now she's doing and things I don't want to do anymore. We didn't realize until it happened. Just. We used to sit in bed on an off day, in bed all day, watching tv, just relaxing. I can't do it anymore. I don't want to be in one room for long periods of time. I don't want to sit on my bed all day long because that's what I had to do in the detention center.

[00:35:34]

You sat there all day, never moved. It kills me being cold because you can never get warm because there's no real heat in the middle of winter in Russia. Standing outside for 2 hours and snow just piling up on you. Like, I don't want to be cold anymore. I want to be hot. I temp all the way up in the house. Like, I want to be hot now. So it's just so many different little things. Counseling, big. A big advocate for getting a counselor, finding someone to talk to. I think it helped me out tremendously. It helped me find different things and different coping mechanisms that have helped me feel grounded and just getting it off my chest. I did a lot of bottling up and just kind of hiding it because I didn't want to hurt braille. Talking to my wife, talking to her, and I'm telling her about my condition. Drinking this murky, milky looking water, and she's, like, cringing, and I'm like, I'm hurting her. So now I'm holding back. So I needed to find somebody else to also talk to, too, at times. Yeah, it was a roller coaster, I will say, like, you can beat it, but you also learn to live with it, too, as well, because I don't think it really goes away.

[00:36:51]

I'm at a really good place now, but there's still a time where it's, like, up and down, of course. And I have these weird moments where I seek it out. Like, I'll look up the penal colony that I was at, and, like, I'm like, oh, I remember that. I remember this. It's weird. It's like this, I don't know, weird trauma thing. My counselor said a lot of people will do that. They'll go to search and look up what they went through. And I was like, well, I guess I'm on the right track of healing then. Cause I'm in that step right there.

[00:37:19]

Did she explain why people do that?

[00:37:22]

Yeah. To make sure that they're not losing their mind. Right. I know it happened.

[00:37:27]

I get it.

[00:37:28]

Clearly, I lived it. But at the same time, it's like I need to just see it. I just need to see it again. And I'm, like, trying to see if I can see any guards that were there when I was there. Some person. Yeah, it was a weird about a good two and a half, three weeks where, like, I was just deep diving. IK two.

[00:37:51]

Yeah. I mean, it must feel pretty interesting to be the only person, only woman from this country to ever experience that. So from that, that makes sense. It's like, I gotta make sure that this was not just in my mind, that this was a real thing. That makes a lot of sense to me.

[00:38:08]

That's why people go to support groups, is to validate each other's experience. Oh, okay. I'm real. You went through it, too. But you are. You're your own support group, so you're, like, valuable.

[00:38:20]

That was hard. I tried to find. I tried to go to this one place. I won't say the name of the place, but I went there. And, yeah, I left very quickly. Cause it felt like I was back in prison. You had to check your phone. They went through all your stuff, and, like, I was just like, whoa, I feel like I'm back in prison right now. I can't do this. I remember making a phone call, and I was just like, bae, semi security guy right now. Like, he needs to come get me, like, right now. Like, I can't even go in the room. Like, I'll be sitting outside. And it wasn't tailored to what I needed either. Like I thought it would. It was like, I got there and they were like, hey, you want to come to aa? And I was just like, no, not really. Cause that's not what I'm struggling with right now. Or like, you want to come to na. I was like, no, that's not what I'm going through. So I was like, yeah, that counseling was more my thing.

[00:39:15]

Sounded like a rehab facility when I read it. I was like, that's interesting.

[00:39:20]

Yeah.

[00:39:20]

People don't tell you. Everybody thinks, go to therapy, but if you go to the wrong therapy, it can be way worse than not going to any therapy. It's tricky. Find the right thing.

[00:39:32]

Yes, it will.

[00:39:34]

How has your relationship with your wife changed because of the experience?

[00:39:43]

I think the little things don't bother us anymore. Cause it's like, this time that we have is not guaranteed anything can happen. And, like, are we gonna waste it arguing over, like, I don't know what color the picture frame should be. You know, like, silly little things. It's not like a big argument, but it's something that kind of gets underneath your skin. You may, like, kind of go to bed, like, those type of things I feel like, don't happen. We need to value every moment we have and, like, really take it in and, like, take the time to do things. Cause I would have killed to have a long practice day, come home, and then go do whatever she wanted to do. And just valuing those moments, I think that's a big thing that changed for us.

[00:40:26]

I love that you wrote that in the end of the book, how you said, like, you went furniture shopping earlier, before you went to Russia, and you were just like, no. And it was more control based. And now you're like, that's so silly. It keeps me further away from my people. And I think that that was such a beautiful realization. I kind of sensed at the end of the book that I'm a meaning maker kind of person. You found a relationship. I feel like a deeper relationship with your defined God, and you really helped you through your time. Can you make sense of what the meaning of this all was for?

[00:41:15]

I mean, coming out of it, I realized that just because you do everything right doesn't mean everything's going to go right. You know, sometimes you're going to get a hiccup to challenge it, to challenge your faith. And right before this, I was getting deeper into it, and I guess this could have either went one or two ways. I could have been like, oh, how can this happen? Like, I'm angry at my God or religion, or this could bring me even closer and stronger and build our bond even more. And I feel like that's where I relied on, because when I started reading the Bible war that I had with me, the stories hit different. Like, the things that they were going, like people were going through. It just hit different for me. At first, I'm like, that doesn't. I read it, okay. But now I read it, I'm like, okay, I can put myself in these shoes. I can see, like, okay, yeah, it's okay to question him, too, as well. Like, I had a lot of questions while I was over there in my little notebook. I was just like, all right, big fella.

[00:42:19]

I can only take so much, you know, like, come on. And then I'll read a passage where he threw ten more things at somebody, but in the end, you know, they prevailed. So I just feel like we got deeper, and I understand a lot more.

[00:42:35]

It felt like there was a big role of reading and writing, and this is my nerdy writer self just probably focusing on these parts, but Sudoku. Is that what's called sudoku?

[00:42:46]

Sudoku. Sudoku.

[00:42:47]

Sudoku. I don't do math or Sudoku. Right?

[00:42:49]

Sudoku.

[00:42:49]

You had one book, I think, of Sudoku.

[00:42:51]

Sudoku. Okay, maybe.

[00:42:53]

And that saved you because you could do the puzzles, but you also wrote incessantly in the margins, right?

[00:42:59]

Yes.

[00:43:00]

And then I'll never forget the story where you were in one of the horrific cells that people were waiting for their verdict in, and people had written. They just wrote a sentence about their situation on every wall, right?

[00:43:16]

Mm hmm.

[00:43:17]

Is that because you're so dehumanized in that system? Is it just people's way of saying, I am here. I am human. The writing is existence.

[00:43:29]

I felt like that when I did it. And it's crazy because, like, some people would do it in pen, but a lot of people did it. It's really nasty. But the cigarette soot. So when you put it. Get done smoking a cigarette, you put it out, and then you can, like, write with the soot a little bit. So people would do that, too. Like, they would write. You would see a lot of last name, first names, case numbers. And I think people did it to leave their mark. Cause they knew they would never clean it. So it'll be there until someone writes over it. I mean, I left my mark. I was definitely, definitely did a couple of times.

[00:44:01]

Okay, so we're gonna let you go because we know you're so busy and important. But I have to know, just what are you most excited about with this baby coming? Like, what kind of parents do you guys think you're gonna be? What conversations are you having? Tell me something about this. Cause I'm very excited.

[00:44:22]

I'm looking forward to having a bad day and coming home and just seeing that ball of joy and everything just, like, kind of falls off. I'm looking forward to that. And then someone looking to me for the answers of the world and just being able to be there and, like, guide them. And then when they realize something on their own and just seeing it come across their face, I think I'm gonna be really excited about those moments. Yeah. I think those moments are where we're gonna probably live for the most.

[00:44:55]

I cannot wait till this kid comes home and complains about having to walk home from school. And Brittany's like, you wanna know what I've been through, right?

[00:45:05]

Cause that'll definitely come up. We're not gonna hide anything, you know, we're definitely gonna be very open. So, yeah, it'll be a funny conversation.

[00:45:14]

You're wonderful.

[00:45:15]

Yeah.

[00:45:16]

You're just so freaking inspiring and important. Your book. People are gonna not be able to put it down. Your family is a blessing to the world.

[00:45:26]

Yeah. I love watching you play basketball. I know you can't do it forever, but I hope you do, especially this summer in Paris.

[00:45:34]

Oh, yeah.

[00:45:35]

We're rooting for you. What a beautiful moment.

[00:45:37]

That would be very much so. It'll be the full circle there.

[00:45:41]

Yeah.

[00:45:41]

But if you want to rest, you've done enough.

[00:45:44]

Okay?

[00:45:44]

Okay. You do not have to keep playing basketball forever.

[00:45:47]

This is what she does. She doesn't understand.

[00:45:49]

She has done enough.

[00:45:50]

She does this with our children who are competitive soccer. We have the youngest who's competitive soccer player. And, you know, I say something and she said, but you also can quit if you want.

[00:46:00]

You sound like us. Y'all sound like us for sure. Hands down. It's gonna be just like that.

[00:46:08]

Oh, my God. Okay. Thank you for your love.

[00:46:11]

Give love to Ralph r us. And Lindsay, we love you so much, and congratulations on this book. It's beautiful. You should be really proud, and we will be watching you forever.

[00:46:23]

Thank y'all so much. I appreciate y'all so much. Thank you. Thank you.

[00:46:27]

I just want to read something that Brittany wrote in the end of her book that I think it's really important that we end with. There are so many people who are still detained and who are waiting for their own moments, like Brittany had. So I'm just going to read this. No one better understands the fight to bring home hostages than the loved ones of those detained. My wife and I depended on the support of the bring our families home b o f h campaign and each of the families it represents and the team at the James W. Foley Legacy foundation, as well as the families of Trevor Reed and Paul Whelan. Thank you for standing by us. As we continue to stand with all Americans who are wrongfully detained, Brittany goes on to thank all of the people who wrote her letters during her detainment and talks about how important those letters were. So if you are someone who would like to join the fight to bring other detainees home, to bring other hostages home, or to send love and support to hostages, please look into bring our families home and the James W. Foley Legacy foundation.

[00:47:36]

Bye bye. If this podcast means something to you, it would mean so much to us if you'd be willing to take 30 seconds to do these three things. First, can you please follow or subscribe? Subscribe to we can do hard things. Following the pod helps you because you'll never miss an episode, and it helps us because you'll never miss an episode. To do this, just go to the we can do hard things show page on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, odyssey, or wherever you listen to podcasts, and then just tap the plus sign in the upper right hand corner or click on follow. This is the most important thing for the pod. While you're there. If you'd be willing to give, give us a five star rating and review and share an episode you loved with a friend, we would be so grateful. We appreciate you very much. We can do hard things is created and hosted by Glennon Doyle, Abby Wambach and Amanda Doyle in partnership with Odyssey. Our executive producer is Jenna Wise Berman, and the show is produced by Lauren Lagrasso, Alison Schott, Deena Kleiner and Bill Schultz.