Brin Miller’s life is upended one terrible night in 2011 when she learns that her teenage stepson has been sexually abusing her two daughters. Once this secret is discovered, Brin’s marriage, already crumbling and unable to sustain itself, breaks for the final time. But against all odds, Brin and her husband, along with their daughters, are able to learn resilience, forgiveness, strength, and courage, and, miraculously, Brin’s marriage begins to heal.Haunting yet hopeful and beautiful, Buried Saints is a fast and raw memoir of forgiveness and resilience. It is a revelatory look into a family deeply destroyed by deceit. Mostly, it is a truly astonishing story about the love of two parents left in a tragic situation to fall or flourish. For Sexual Assault Awareness, a good resource for statistics is here https://www.nsvrc.org/statistics A thoughtful piece about the vulnerability of children during this pandemic https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/07/opinion/coronavirus-child-abuse.html
Brin Miller grew up in an affluent suburb outside of New York City, leading a sheltered, if privileged, life. A graduate of Denison University, Brin was an all-American swimmer who sought to achieve personal and professional success by marrying her childhood sweetheart and climbing the corporate ladder with the same drive and determination that had served her well growing up. Miller had everything a modern American woman was supposed to want—husband, beautiful home, successful career—but she found herself consumed by panic and confusion. On the outside, she and her perfect family were living the American dream. But behind closed doors, they grappled with betrayal, anger, and blame. In an attempt to pull back the curtain on a world many consider “secret and untouchable,” Miller has chronicled her harrowing experience of bringing her children back from sexual abuse at the hands of a close relative. Buried Saints is her first book: You will find it unbearable, cathartic, and uplifting.Leave a comment for radio show guests
Have you ever stopped to think about yourself and your story? If someone were to write your memoir what would it say? We all seek some level of authenticity but have trouble removing the labels and finding our whole story. Welcome to Dropping In with Diane Dewey. In this program we’ll explore diverse stories on identity to help determine what is truly yours. Now here is your host Diane Dewey.
Diane: Welcome to Dropping In, everyone. It’s May Day, the first of May, that used to be such a fun occasion when I was back in grade school, and we would run around the maple. And today we have different feelings about it, it’s also May Day as well so a call for action if you are a voter but we’re not going to panic, we’re on the other, quite the contrary, we’re going to be grounded today by our guest, Brin Miller, author of a book called Buried Saints. Just out now from She Writes Press. It’s a gorgeous memoir. And the title is from the St. Joseph, who you buried in your backyard, welcome Brin Miller, welcome to the show.
Brin: Thank you very much.
Diane: We’re going to talk about this story of burying St. Joseph in your backyard, a little bit later but I just want to introduce our listeners to your full story. And you write about an experience that’s very tragic is the experience of child abuse at the hands of a family member, your two daughters experienced this, and it signified a breaking apart and a reunification of your family. We’re going to first of all, just say the only authentic response to this book is tears and I certainly had my share of them while reading, but also to just say, how very sorry we are for you having had that experience.
Today we’re going to look at the silver linings and the unintended positive consequences that came out of this experience. It could have destroyed you, it could have buried you, but it didn’t. And we want to learn about how that happened from you. So just as another backstory. Today we’re routinely traumatized by the news and it’s harder than ever to feel safe. But safety and the feeling of being protected, and the ability to focus, are essential for our well-being.
And that’s something that we’re is being taken away by the trauma of what’s going on. It’s a time when boundaries and borders mean, even more than ever, we have boundaries between ourselves in a personal way. We’re not touching or feeling one another. I do feel that connection, electronically, but we’re not in crowds anymore on a subway and maybe that will change for the long term, but those contacts with one another and our boundaries are at the heart of human interaction and we need both.
So you really do a deep dive into this subject in your book brand Buried Saints. Here is the introduction for people who are not familiar, Brin Miller’s life is upended one terrible night in 2011. She learns that her daughter as she learns that her teenage stepson has been sexually abusing her two daughters. Once this secret is discovered, Brin’s marriage, already crumbling and unable to sustain itself, breaks for the final time. But against all odds, Brin and her husband, along with their daughters, are able to learn resilience, forgiveness, strength, and courage, and, miraculously Brin’s marriage begins to heal.
Haunting and horrible yet hopeful and beautiful, Buried Saints is a fast and raw memoir of forgiveness and resilience. It’s a revelatory look into a family deeply destroyed by deceit. And mostly, it’s an astonishing story about the intense unpredictable love of two parents left in a tragic situation to fall or flourish, and that is the situation we find ourselves in today to fall, or to flourish.
And Brin, you have provided me with some reading about child abuse, April was Child Abuse Awareness Month and without teachers or live teachers in the classroom, there’s less of a checks and balance on child abuse than ever and zoom has literally become our lifeline. So, I thank you very much for that. We have to really define trauma which is that which can’t be processed, it’s a pretty simple but enormous concept. And then, after used to tolerate the sensory reminders of it and to physically experience.
You know efficacy in response to stimulus that one’s triggered, our feelings of helplessness and dependence that’s growing out of it from Bessel van der Kolk, considered the leader in the field. In your book Brin, you describe the ordeal of your daughter’s which, although it’s terrifying was thankfully encapsulated, owing to the very swift actions of you and your husband to confront the situation. And you learned quite rapidly, that people were fairly patronizing about this time does not heal all wounds and the fact that your girls were very young does not diminish this in any way, shape, or form.
Fortunately, you and your family have really done the work and continue to and you’re to be commended. So there’s a before and after to this story written by Brin Miller, Buried Saints is the name of the book, and it’s before the trauma of having had learned that your daughters were being sexually molested by a stepson. Everyone’s worst nightmares, there’s the before knowing what’s what being an authority having answers at your fingertips.
And then there’s the after, when you found out about the trauma and your life was upended. But to your great commendation, and to our further understanding of trauma, the fact that you truncated it by getting to the heart of it right away, was extremely important. And you’re right in the book, I just looked up and kept looking up, because looking down, felt like giving in the sky, the wind, the trees, the universe, that’s where I found God, wisdom, and strength, and it’s not an any mother’s dream to nurse her children back from being victims into survivorship. But Bryin, that’s what you did and I would argue that you had to model being a survivor yourself, and this is something that is some depth that I think you found in yourself. Would you say that that’s true? Did you know you’re a survivor all along, maybe not this caliber, but were?
Brin: You asked an interesting question. Certainly, there’s so many parallels when you talk about what we’re dealing with today with COVID and boundaries. We, I knew I was the type of person who could hit pull up or bootstraps and get going. So the second we found out something had happened and I just want to stop for a minute and say, you know the power of communication, the power of reaching out, the power of picking up the phone call is also relevant today.
Because so many breaks in the team could have happened, if one person didn’t tell one person who picked up the phone and called us, who then turned around and we confronted my stepson and one of my daughters and so I just really want to highlight that we wouldn’t be where we are today if it weren’t for the bravery of picking up the phone.
Diane: Right, this was your neighbor? This is your neighbor whose daughter was the babysitter, right?
Diane: To whom your daughter’s best. And she picked it up the phone at night and called you.
Brin: Yeah, so the chain of events to get us to knowing, then you got another breaking the chain. I fully understand how hard it is to know, to hear the badness that’s happening in your house and to try to approach it and unpack it. So, I knew I was the strong person to be able to say, “Okay we can do this, we can fix it, I can learn everything there is to learn about trauma, and we’ll push forward!” But at a certain point, my energy levels have died. I mean, I remember night of hearing everything that we needed to hear and the way I approached it was, I learned everything that I could learn I took classes in the afternoon, continuing as psychological classes so I could learn everything I could about trauma, and I thought that my kids were going to be healthy, that they are not going to be victims of any kind.
So, you put yourself in the Go mode, and you go, but then my energy failed. I couldn’t do it, and it’s a heavy nature topic, so not everybody could handle it with us, not everybody could know we were really fortunate that it wasn’t in the town newspaper. So while we were able to approach it internally, and to divulge to who we needed to divulge to and we weren’t subject to the rumor mill and all what goes with that.
It was lonely, and it was hard, and God bless my husband, he’s traveled both sides of it because all three of the children are his. So, he wasn’t always my person. I could always go to him and cry and say I can’t do this anymore.
Diane: Right. And the other thing is too, you are processing it yourself. I mean while you were trying to be the strong one. And while you were the go getter, you know, to your credit you rallied, but I really believe that to absorb this means that you’re absorbing quite a loss, yourself, and it’s something that we as women. I think often put ourselves forth in a way where once again, it’s hard to tend to our own needs and to know what to do for ourselves and as you say, not having your typical partner.
I do sense in you though, that you are a survivor. You went to resourcefulness mode, you decided to get educated. You know you were brilliant in the way that you cut the conversation off with the public by, circumventing the newspaper I think that was a blessing. And you’re very right to talk about how there could have been any number of variables that had they gone a different way, wouldn’t have spelled the degree of recovery that you all have experienced as a family.
And you write a lot in the book about expressive arts therapy, it’s something that you engage with your daughters, and obviously with yourself in having written this book and I really feel that there is such an important purpose in putting thoughts, emotions, experiences into words. You know, you talk about journaling and, ultimately a memoir is the ultimate journal, you’ve given it to us as a gift. And I just wanted, how has writing the book been therapeutic for you?
Brin: I’m the first to say, I like I’m a task person. I like tasks, I like to get them done and processing everything that we went through is still happening today. I’m still processing it. So, from that, and I don’t know that I’ll ever check it off my list. There isn’t a day that we don’t deal with it. That may sound like it’s impossible, but there’s so many things along the way of raising children, little boy on the kindergarten playground that wants to give your daughter a kiss. It’s a trigger, you know. Yesterday over zoom class, the male anatomy lesson in science, it’s a trigger.
So we’re still processing it, I’m still processing it. I didn’t. I will say this over and over again, I don’t feel like I wrote this book when I was called to write this book from whom I believe to be God. I had to pull over on the side of the road because the nudge was so big. And it was, you’re gonna do this, and I’m on the side of the road pulling out scrap paper from the door of my car, writing down the notes and all along the way. I was guided by this faithful power in my life, to keep moving it forward. I’m really proud of the book.
Diane: You should be.
Brin: I could have. There were certain points in the books that I needed to be authentic. And when you write a book, lots of people have opinions on what is, what the audience will like and what the audience will want to read, and I needed it to be authentic to our life and real and in fact I ended up having to dial back stuff to make it sound real. Because there really was such an enormous scenario going on in our life.
Brin: So I think it’s hard. My daughters are very proud of the book, my husband struggles with it, it reveals things about his son, that hurt. I mean they hurt. So, we’re still processing it, Diane, and I think we probably will be, forever.
Diane: Yes, forever. And that is the nature of trauma and does reside at a cellular level so you know we go through these sensory triggers. I just have to say that you know you were called. And maybe that’s the mechanism for you processing this further and for further revelations. I’m extremely proud that your daughters are engaged with you in this, and are enjoined with you I think that’s lovely. We know that this is to protect their privacy.
This is an alias for you, but you think about things like it doesn’t sound, the least bit melodramatic to me. You know you listen to people like Laura Bush for example and this is not, this is certainly not a political conversation in a personal way.
Brin: Of course.
Diane: She endured the death of a close friend of hers in a car accident in which she was traveling, and she said, “There is no day that ever goes by that I don’t think about her.” Because of course, you get in your car, you’re going to have the smells, you’re going to have the sights as you say you have you know the sex ed. So I think what we want to do when we come back from the break, we’re forced to take a break now, because we’ve just touched on so many, so many subjects. But we’re going to enter into the idea of, we can start in some small ways to reprogram ourselves, and we’re going to hear more about how that happens. When we come back with Brin Miller, author of Buried Saints. Don’t go away.
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Diane: Welcome back everyone. We’re here in conversation with Brin Miller, who’s written a brave new memoir called Buried Saints. It’s a very sensitive subject, it’s a subject that was divisive, in your own family. Brin, you’ve just alluded to the fact that, because your two daughters, experienced sexual abuse at the hands of your stepson, it’s difficult for your husband to fully embrace the notion of being so revealing and candid and as you say, authentic.
In the book, sometimes when we generalize, sometimes we feel, you know men sometimes compartmentalize things, and women are much more prone to divulge and to share. And I do think that it must be hard, I can certainly appreciate how it must be something that tears him apart in terms of his ongoing processing of the situation, his allegiances. But you have done something miraculous, I think, in recovering the strength yourself going beyond your own limitations and coming together as a family.
Some of the techniques I would say, are just so fun. And heartening, you’ve got the 13th of the month, I’m just gonna rattle some, some of them off, you’ve got swimming through the month and you’ve got going to Africa, all things that you know we really are quite things we want to embrace, but, and then there’s singing and belting it out in the car and you know you’re on the way to the therapy sessions and you and your daughters are belting it out, I find there’s something to that.
And there is a whole lot of logic, about the fact that trauma resides in our bodies somatically and that engaging in, especially the throat and the voice gives voice, right? Gives a sense of power and agency, maybe at a time when we, didn’t have that. And, you know you’ve enacted a lot of creative ways. And I think you will continue to do so. Did you have to reach deep? And did these ideas that you’ve discovered just come to intuitively, as well?
Brin: So that that’s actually a really good question. I think what happened was, in being broken. And I mean truly broken, you know, except my child dying. This was the worst thing that I ever could have imagined for a multitude of levels that are probably two other, podcasts of conversation, but the creativity was really me throwing my dead fast perfectness to the wind and saying, “Okay, this happens and how are we going to do it?” And early on when I was doing some write up work about the girls and who they were when they were in the womb, someone had told me who they are in the womb is truly who they are. And I thought, “Well, okay, I’ll write out for them who they were in the womb and we’ll make it really fun.” Because so many traits of who they were, is truly who they are today.
So I was writing out the story I turned to my older daughter Kennedy and I said, “Hey, can you give me a story of something loving that happened in our world?” And she just looked me deadpan in the eyes at the age of five and said, “Mom, we had no love in our house until this happens.” And it really struck me, I thought, “Oh wow.” And I know what she meant, she meant, I was in a really bad place and I was being abused and I was confused and I didn’t know but what I thought is, we have to reconstruct all these boundaries and we have to reconstruct fun and I can’t do it in a list, sit down and read kind of way.
So, a little bit was authentic to me, a little bit was goofiness. A lot of it was us all coming together and throwing ideas on the table. Some of it was like the writing and the journaling was because I literally couldn’t process the amount of information, they were telling me, so it was sort of my way of saying, write it down here the best of your ability, and then we’ll get it to the therapist next week. This singing, I drove 45 minutes each way. One day a week for one of their therapeutic appointments that was very specific to trauma.
So we just fancied it out. And again, sometimes it was a mechanism for me to cry without them knowing if I was crying.
Diane: Well, crying to the song, yeah.
Brin: Right. Sometimes it was a mechanism for them to be mad when they didn’t know how to appropriately be mad, but singing a mad song really gets the energy flowing in a positive way.
Brin: We all reach to the depths of our ability, and I think it really molded us and reshaped us.
Diane: It sounds to me, and I had this feeling in reading the book, you were just cracked open, you were really cracked wide open, and it felt like you’re talking, like you were saying about writing the book, you were called. So we’re not going to know until much later the reasons why, we don’t understand this very, we’re not going to understand this right up front. All the answers are not yet present, but this way in which you were, as you say steadfast, I think you were also there was this sense of there being a perfectionism, and also a sense that when Kennedy said this to you about love in the house.
I also had the feeling that, that resonated so much because it was very real at so many levels. Your husband and you, I think reconnected. It could have gone any number of ways but you reconnected through this experience and I think that the fact that you came up with you put your heads and your hearts together and came up with ways to deal. You were getting a lot of expert advice but, nobody can teach you, what you when you own one of the ultimate things that you did, which is that on the 13th of the month.
So, on the 13th of the month you celebrate and this is a way of saying, “Well, forget it 13th superstition, we’re not going to believe in you.” What we’re going to do is take control over our lives, and we’re going to celebrate on what is supposed to be an unlucky day and just show you there. How lucky it can be for us, as a family. So tell us some of the things that you’ve done on the 13th that I just find this enchanting.
Brin: So, 13 is my lucky number they’re probably a lot of ways to read into that, I love Friday the 13th. Anybody who knows me, knows it’s like the luckiest day for me. All good things happen. I don’t know if that’s God’s wink and laughing at me or if that’s his way of saying, “I got your back girl, I got you back.” So, we decided one that New Year’s Eve, we decided what are we going to do this year? We don’t want to do a New Year’s resolution and we don’t want to fail at anything. So, what are we going to do?
So, Taylor my younger daughter said, “Whoa, let’s have a party on the 13th of every month.” And so, we decided as a family that would be a really good idea and I have to say it did take an enormous effort for my husband because when the 13th came on a work day, he did cut out of work. And we did. We delivered 13 bouquets of flowers. I went down early one morning to my friend’s beautiful garden, she said, “Cut whatever you want.” So, I cut out all the flowers and we organized them and we randomly delivered them to 13 church families.
Diane: That’s wonderful.
Brin: We bought 13 different flavors of ice cream, and we ate ice cream around the kitchen and laugh. The biggest one we did, separate from going to Africa but the biggest one we did was with my daughters said, “Let’s size 13 kites at the same time.” I mean who can do that 13 kites? Between the four of us we had eight arms. And you know, we did. We set out to do it and we went on a vacation, and we bought 15 kites in case two broke, and it just became a bonding that. And again, a reimagining of who we were as family.
We’re always sort of stuck in the whole truth, right? I mean we all are, we all have a whole truth about us, but we wanted that to be one portion of it, and you say, “I was broken wide open.” I was broken. And it’s taken a really long time for me to understand that I was chosen. I was blessed, and I was broken. But it started with the broken. I’m sorry, sound little too much.
Diane: Listen, you’re entitled, and we all felt it and feel it when we are with you in this book as well. I think that, one thing that happens after a trauma is, you switch over from the left to the right side of the brain, logical, left side thinking is no good in trauma because it’s not logical. So you switch over to the right, intuitive side of the brain and most people, many people experiencing resilience after a trauma become highly intuitive, intuition, has its roots in the Latin, which means protection.
You are now being offered a kind of protection that you haven’t had before, your sense, your sensory alertness, your maybe hyper vigilance. You know it’s protecting you and your right to pick up on the signals. And to go with the flow of what your ideas are that bring you into a larger life, so that this isn’t defining you always, it will always be present and will always be woven in. But then you’re developing also self-efficacy who can fly 13 kites, your family can, and you rose to the challenge, and you know it’s something that, with the flowers which I just thought was one of the best examples of getting completely outside yourself.
Taking the flowers to your neighbors that you wanted to thank and express gratitude towards, you know it’s really turning yourself inside out this way and getting outside of your own feelings of sorrow and even self-pity, which would be entirely understandable as well but I think this is so healthy and encouraging to rekindle that little tiny spark, that just means a little tiny wind to catch fire again and have a life that’s reborn.
You, really also, I think touched on ways of connecting with yourself. I have to go back to the before, Brin because that was also a fascinating creature, you were a person, who had self-described person who had it all; successful career, a loving husband. There were some issues, there were some substance dependencies, that became worked through, thank goodness, and, you know, but you had it all.
And yet, you felt a kind of awkwardness in your husband was very gregarious and he had a certain degree of social ease, many of us are drawn to people like that when we feel our own otherness and awkwardness and outsiderness. I will say, it enables you to write. So, that is a blessing of awkwardness and outsiderness but you say that, you’re writing your book, I had more in common with my friends, husbands than my friends themselves, because they were all having children and marking birthdays and you felt your awkwardness absorbing you.
Swimming, was your safe harbor you say, you place where you felt yourself. And I wondered, what you felt this awkwardness was about? I loved, here’s your describing swimming, “I think I swam because there’s no awkward in swimming, you can’t be too tall or tripped over your feet, swimming leveled the playing field and smoothed out my self-doubt during my maturing years. Swimmers fit into their own society and I rejoiced in that, swimming as a kid was the perfect routine to counterbalance the tension between my parents in the pool I never had questions I had, on land.” So it’s the great equalizer and soother and competency maker. Where do you think that that awkwardness was coming from in your life?
Brin: So, I’ve seen it in myself and I’ve seen it in my kids and quite honestly with all the work I’ve done with kids moving forward I know within all kids, when things are going on in the household, a kid may not have the words, and I was one of those kids that didn’t have the words to verbalize something doesn’t feel right. And my parents are no longer together, but there was a lot that wasn’t right, but they kept trying to convince us everything was fine this is normal, this is normal, and it certainly breaks in your life.
Especially as you go through the school pass, you realize, oh wait, that’s not right, other people’s parents don’t do it that way, or other people’s father doesn’t yell that way or some other people’s mom doesn’t drink that way or whatever the scenario is, right?
Brin: So, I had an innate feeling that all my life, something wasn’t right. And I didn’t have the tools or the capability to verbalize it, I was told just go be perfect. You go out there, everything side, everything’s fine. This is great. So, I really feel very deeply, impassioned and again called to empower kids to put language to what doesn’t feel right and that was one of the things that I encourage my kids to do. We had a funny scenario.
And it’s very, the me before all of this, is still the me today, but she’s a little unleashed the walls and the barriers are down on that perfectionism and I’m a recovering perfectionist. So, you know, they’re giving me grace if I screw up. One time I made a cake for my daughter’s kindergarten and the kindergarten teacher said, “Oh, you must have helped make this Kennedy, you can cut the first slice.” And she said, “Oh no, my mom has controlled it.”
Diane: Still in always.
Brin: So, and I’m not perfect. But at the end of the day, I think my awkwardness is I never felt free to be me. And now I’m just me. I’m just me. Take it or leave it and I have to shout out to friends who are listening today because they love me, for me, and there is nothing more beautiful than knowing that you are loved fully and completely for who you are.
Brin: And I’ll just say, I hate surprises. As you can imagine, and my husband decided to surprise me for my 45th birthday, and I was still mad at him. But I realized that I went upstairs in my temper tantrum. Everybody downstairs knew me completely, and wholly, and it was just the most warm loving feeling I ever could have imagined.
Diane: You know I think that it’s about acceptance, self-acceptance. You actually, it’s infectious from this book, I came away from this book, feeling happier with myself, which is a very strange takeaway from a tragic story. You know, it is obviously a story of resilience, but you know what you just said about the unequivocal love and being accepted. It’s something that I took away from the reading this book. I definitely feel like, I’ve put more color around, I’ve left a lot more at imperfections, there’s a way in which your book, because you have been so real, there’s a way in which your book just puts things in perspective.
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You are listening to Dropping In, with Diane Dewey. We’d love to hear from you if you have a question or comment about the show, send us an email to DDewey@trunordmedia.com. That’s the letter D, Dewey at T-R-U Nordmedia.com. Now back to Dropping In.
Diane: Welcome back everyone. We’re here with Brin Miller, author of the Memoir Buried Saints. It’s a compelling, read a story of coming back from the brink and a story that is important for I think all families to read. You became much more open, Brin to the idea of receiving signals, you buried the St. Joseph, we promised to get to this story. What happened? You took this, you took this icon, right? And you buried in your backyard, and it was in the context of you thought you were going to be selling your house, and then what happened?
Brin: So, I’ll just take a quick step back my face started growing, a number of years earlier, it was only in the wind, if anyone had talked to me about God or Jesus, I would have hightailed it on around the other direction. So, it was a very slow path. I’ve always believed in science, but of course I thought the science were generic universe science and now, I truly identify them as a god wink. And we wouldn’t know whether to stay in our house, where all the abuse had happened in the middle of the night, or whether we should leave? And there are pluses or minuses on both sides.
So we decided, let’s try to sell our house, so we put it on the market. It wasn’t selling we were very frustrated, it was a very competitive market, so we just didn’t get it. I have a very good friend of mine who said, “Let me get you a St. Joseph, and the St. Joseph is the patron saint of real estate. You bury him in the front yard of your house or in a potted plant or somewhere. And the luck of his presence sells your house.”
So it was a pouring, pouring, pouring rainy, spring it couldn’t have been wetter or muddier. My husband was off on a business trip, and I was very, very tired. The night before I had buried the saint, I put a little pile in a little garden shovel, next to the saint, I put it in a plastic bag, said this marvelous prayer that I don’t know where it came from. Bury it, went to bed, woke up the next morning, dropped the girls off at school and just feeling energyless. Absolutely, energyless.
And I was drawn back over to the garden, and I looked at the garden, and there was saint, lying in a perfectly clean bag, next to the hole where I had buried him, and the pile that I had made the previous day, it was as if I didn’t complete the act of burying him. And I thought, to be honest, holy bleep. And like, what is going on? Is there’s no way intellectually, there should be a bite mark in it, I’m sure any animal would have dug it up or something. And it wasn’t, so I raced inside, I called my husband and I said, “I don’t know what this means. But this is what happens.” And he said, “Take the house off the market, we’re not meant to sell it.”
Diane: You read the tea leaves, this is great. And he always had faith, I think he was a person of faith as well, right?
Brin: So he is a recovering Catholic. We, he struggled, men struggle to have faith in this world, it’s very difficult to go to work in the world of finances and say, “Hey, God got our back on this guys.” So, I think he is typical man deeply, deeply, deeply, wants to believe in the bigger picture and get pulled back over and over again through the way that the world that our men journey.
Diane: Right, well there’s a lot of being results oriented, and we want proof, and we want results and, but I think you had a great proof and a great result with your, St. Joseph. And I think it’s really very interesting to me that you had this kind of parallel track, you had this inner thread running through you all along, and it kind of came to life, you came to life spiritually. Through this experience, and that’s a pretty great outcome I would say, in addition to becoming this open and friendly neighbor or giving person and a person that ultimately wanted to explore beyond your own boundaries, right? Because you proposed that you take the family back to the seat of our origins in Uintah Tanzania, which is the Olduvai Gorge is not far away. Victoria Falls is there, some of the oldest land, some of the oldest remains have been found in Tanzania and you took your family there and you were untethered, unmoored from anything you ever knew.
In terms of culture, landscape, animals, and you were kind of put back in touch with something. What was it like to go there? How did it, put in perspective what was going on back at home?
Brin: So, the impetus and the drive for that was we were my daughter, at the time were five and seven. And, bringing a five-year-old to Tanzania is a pretty cool thing in and of itself, and I wanted us to have a spiritual experience. And so I really hoped the living daylights out of my husband until the pediatrician said, “Go, Go.” And a lot of it began with just wanting to get out of where we were, I mean, we were just so in this teeny tiny little bubble of darkness.
So I wanted to rip the band aid so wide open, and when we did that, I think it changed us all. I mean, first off the perspective of the poverty and the need, and yet the happiness and the faithfulness. My husband and I renewed our vows. When we were there, which just really. I can’t even. We were staying at an orphanage in a small village, and the priest there was going to remarry us, and the orphanage. Skip the day of school and threw a party for us.
And at the end of the wedding vows, which were so unbelievably personal, it must have been given from God because there was no way this man had never met us before. The most amazing rainbow, I mean, this across the sky of Africa, a rainbow started, and then they fit the orphanage started singing and dancing and then another rainbow happened and there was a double rainbow. And it just it, physically brings me to my knees, every time I think about it because that is God’s promise. God’s promise is in the rainbow, but you have to have the rain first.
Diane: That’s incredible!
Brin: Sorry, I have to deep breath.
Diane: No, I understand.
Brin: In the end, I don’t think I’ll ever be thankful for the rain. But, do I cling to that promise of the rainbow and God’s presence being good, and over and over and over again when I am willing to surrender, which again, I’m a recovering perfectionist for earthly perfection, but when I’m willing to surrender the answers that are applied to me, are much bigger and more creative than I ever could have thought.
Diane: Right. And I think to this idea of going to a place that’s impoverished, and, seeing the spirit of people and understanding. Look, it doesn’t come from the outside, it comes from inside. And it’s something that we can choose, it’s a choice, and we can celebrate our lives and one another. You know, it’s weird that you were staying like in an orphanage in some ways, you were all like orphans, you had been dissociated from your heritage, your parentage of trust and what you knew, and it was going to be up to you to kind of recreate your life.
So, this renewal of the vows, then it becomes really powerful and profound. I do sense though. And this is something that came through to me in the book. There’s a lot of momentum now, because you are a mother who you’ve rededicated yourself. You’ve come away from, I think a place that, there you were in Africa where everything is very different and that’s stimulates us in a certain way to understand we can be different, we can be different than who we were before.
And I think, I must think that your girls also enjoyed it visually, and in the sense of the spirit of the place and play and also animals, look at animals. You know that’s a big embodiment of spirit and also instinct. So you were really in the midst of the crux of all of it. And now that you came back and really came back together in a way that you hadn’t been before. You have a renewed sense of purpose, this healing that you’re doing, you’re doing this as a family. Everybody’s got a role to play in it, but you’re doing it. It’s something you’re doing together. And I wonder, you know the effects of having that mutual goal, how that has played?
Brin: It’s interesting, because here we are in lockdown during COVID-19, and a lot of what we’ve been through has prepared us to be together. My husband and I keep saying we’re super thankful that we all really like each other. I think what it boils down to is we know each other in a really deep way, I mean my daughters are best friends. People don’t totally understand that and I’m sure a lot of it has to do with trauma bonding, but in the end, they don’t mind spending every waking hour together.
We play games together, we really truly enjoy each other, and for me I feel like as they were growing up and they were young, there’s so many milestones I missed. And I just am so blessed that I get to enjoy this time. We’re not perfect by any stretch of the imagination and we definitely have our itchy, scratchy moments. But we genuinely love each other but I think that comes from a deep level of understanding on who each other is, I don’t know if that makes any sense.
Diane: It truly does make sense, you know what each other is made of, and you’ve had to plumb the depths of yourself to come up with the strength and the creativity and the love. You know that was maybe in there all along, but had been untapped, for one reason or another, and crisis, and the need to confront and not deny and to go to work through things in the way that I still feel you were enormously brave to do.
You know, it really brings out something in yourselves that you discovered. I wanted to take a step back to a word that sometimes we all get tripped up on which is forgiveness, and I know that there’s a rich tradition of forgiveness, in the Christian tradition, and there are lots of, obviously, Jesus is one of the Christian role model for this. Is there a sense of coming to a deeper understanding and having compassion are, is forgiveness? A very real possibility in your view.
Brin: So we talked about this all the time in our household, and I believe, a couple of tenants of forgiveness. One, is I believe forgiveness is for you, not for the other person. That’s not that the other person doesn’t benefit from it. Two, is I believe forgiveness as a daily challenge. You have to choose forgiveness. It doesn’t come naturally to us. And three, I believe that putting your best foot forward is an act of forgiveness. If we let the pain of it encapsulate us, we’re not living in forgiveness.
We have to move our best foot forward. So, I do believe and I’m still studying how Jesus is a symbol of forgiveness. I mean I fundamentally understand it, but as a human here on Earth, it’s really hard to look at it that way. So I sort of stick to my tenants. Sometimes the most loving thing you can do is to just happily move on from a relationship in your life. My daughters had not seen their half-brother, the door is wide open if they want to, that we would do it in a healthy way, but they are not ready, but they don’t live in, not liking him.
I mean, they understand their dad has a relationship with them still. They understand that he was young and have to put his foot forward for every day of his life. We talked about his responsibility as well, so none of us are living without it.
Diane: I love the idea that forgiveness is putting our best foot forward because that’s what we need to do today. Unfortunately, our time is up, and the forgiveness also separated you from your angle, which I thought was a beautiful thought. In the end, honesty is found on every page of this book Buried Saints, you can find Brin Miller at www.brinmiller.com. At Facebook, Burried Saints, and Instagram Brin Miller 45. Thank you Brin. Thank you very much for listening, and stay well everyone.
Brin: Thank you, you too.
Thank you so much for dropping in. Please join Diane Dewey again next Friday at 8am Pacific Time, and 11am Eastern Time on the Voice America Variety Channel. We’ll see you then.