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Posted By Opening the Heart

Sleep, Baby, sleep. There's a morning to come. Leonard Cohen

If you're 50 or older, there are certain events in history that you're likely to remember vividly. When I was once asked "Where were you, Jon, when President Kennedy was killed?", I remembered walking out of the library at Brandeis University on Friday afternoon, November 22nd 1963, when I heard the news. I also remember being in the living room of my host family in London on July 20th 1969, watching Neil Armstrong taking the first steps on the moon. I remember thinking "What a magical moment!" I was 23 years old on the frontier of my young life watching men on the frontier of space  jumping around on the moon like kids on a playground. Watching those footsteps in the moon dust was etched in my memory forever.

I have been seeing Anna in my therapy practice for over 9 years. She is in her mid 50's now, petite, really bright and very brave. Before I knew better, she would lead me into deep conversations like "What is love?" I say "before I knew better" because I would blunder in to answer, thinking it was a wise and solid response, and within minutes, she would peel back the easy answers, always going deeper until I learned to listen rather than speak. She didn't set a "trap" or anything like that. She was always sincere, thoughtful and earnest about digging for truth. She is always a force.

Anna had 10 brothers and sisters and each and every one of them, including Anna, were sexually abused by their father for many years growing up. Anna was the only one who "made it out alive". Some of the others committed suicide, most had drug and alcohol addictions. None of them, except Anna, had a loving partner, family or community. She has asked me, a number of times, "Why did I make it out, Jon?" I had learned my lessons with Anna. I had to gently listen to where her question would lead her.

She talked about the next door neighbors, the family where she was loved and where, sometimes, she found safe refuge. The family never knew the real story. Anna talked about this family as, perhaps, why she made it out. And she also talked about a God-given faith and she also talked about walking on the moon. Anna had a mobile hanging above her bed. It had all the planets including earth and our moon. She remembered that when she heard his footsteps coming down the hall, coming to "pay a visit", she would visit the rings of Saturn but, especially, she would go to the moon and walk and play in that magical place. She had to remember things in great detail. She remembers the breathtaking view of earth, the beautiful shining stars in the vast darkness and the peace and silence and safety of walking on the moon. She would often stay long after the "visit" was over. With tears in her eyes, Anna said "I walked on the moon long before Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin".

In therapy, Anna found a way to become more whole than she had ever been in her life. She had, amazingly, found a way to "make it out" by learning when (and with whom) to make a descent and go after the answers to her deep questions- her answers. And she also knew when, in her life, to fly up and survive by walking on the moon.... Sleep, Anna, sleep. There's a morning to come....With Love and Respect, Jon