Planet Waves | For the Faithful by Eric Francis


For the Faithful
By Eric Francis

Breathing in Love

Readers, Cousins, Friends,

_____I was born with a life-threatening illness that has killed many children. It's called celiac, and it's a chronic inability to metabolize a protein found in wheat, called gluten. When gluten is present in the diet of a celiac child or adult, this causes a wider inability to absorb any nutrients. At 13 months, after nonstop illness from the time I was eating any food that contained traces of wheat (most foods do), I was hospitalized for malnutrition, a distended abdomen and other serious gastrointestinal symptoms, as well as dehydration from constantly passing liquid. Had I not been treated, I would have died long before the age of two, like thousands of infants throughout the history of the European races.

_____My mother learned about celiac from reading Dr. Benjamin Spock's Baby and Child Care. Our family pediatrician told her she didn't know what she was talking about; however, after a week of tests in the hospital, doctors reached the same conclusion she had. Funny thing is that nobody, not doctors, nurses, neither of my grandmothers or grandfathers, or aunts or uncles, nor my mother or father, noticed that I was sick enough to do something about till I was 13 months old and way at the edge, despite many very obvious signs.

_____I often wonder what it means that for the first year of my life I was close to starving to death. This is a long time for a very young child, a long time to be sick, and it must have made a first and lasting impression of the prevailing conditions of the physical plane. Under hypnosis a few years ago, I was regressed back to infancy, and found myself in my crib, alone in a room in an apartment in the Canarsie neighborhood of Brooklyn; it was cold, it was damp, the room was bare and dim, there was the feeling of plastic, and my parents were in the other room, arguing.

_____Through this time, the first years of my parents' marriage, God and Goddess, father and mother, did not get along; far from it. It got worse as time went on. They had no business being married, no basis to determine whether what they called love was love, and their motives for getting together were a bit old-fashioned. My mother hated her parents and needed a way out the door (I've been told repeatedly that for young women there were supposedly just two ways out of the house in those days, feet first, or in a wedding gown). My father, as a man of 23, was simply supposed to get married. My mom was a beautiful, intelligent, talented, hot little number; under the circumstances, I would have married her too. But that is different than love.

_____Both of my parents are strong brain-first, air-sign types: she is a Gemini and he is an Aquarius; she has a Capricorn moon and he an Aquarius moon, neither being inherently warm or maternal. Watery planets are weak in both their charts. Astrology pointed me to the obvious reality that emotions are not an easy dimension for them to move in, and of course children learn to emote, to love and be loved, from their parents, both from how their parents feel toward us, and by the example of how they feel about each other. With half a dozen of my own planets in water signs, mostly Pisces, I was a little fish out of water, struggling to breathe just like a real fish who suddenly finds himself in a lot of air. It manifested as celiac.

_____For sure, the people I was surrounded by as a child were negatively polarized. They were pissed off, nervous, and fearful; they all seemed to hate one another; and they had been made wrong; hence there was toxic guilt and shame in my environment. My parents, in particular, repelled one another rather than being attracted to one another; hatred was more commonplace than love; I have no memories of them being truly loving to one another, not a one. The wedding pictures are nice, but they were both (quite literally) experienced stage performers, in full costume, playing roles.

_____This was my early relationship modeling. My mother's sister and all of her cousins except for one got divorced within a short time. I had a Godmother, who, through many years of my life, was incredibly important to my survival; her husband died young.

_____If you asked me, I would not say that my childhood was especially bad. I've heard lots of stories, visited lots of homes and witnessed many things; overall it was pretty good, but you know, there were some emotional problems.

_____I remember being hit, but I don't remember being beaten. However, the other day, I was lighting the wood stove in my living room, working on the floor, and a female friend walked toward me from across the living room floor; her hand happened to be open and, seeing this from a height of about three feet, I physically flinched; she saw me do it, and I felt it. So maybe "being hit" (rather than beaten, if there's much of a difference) left a greater impression on me than I remember.

_____To their credit, my parents allowed me enormous intellectual and spiritual freedom, and when I was old enough, I was fairly free to travel the planet and spent a lot of time riding trains and my bicycle around the eastern seaboard. My dad and Godmother paid for college. I attended excellent Quaker summer camps for five years, where I made friends and, as a young teenager, saw people who had different kinds of relationships. Those were important impressions, but by the time I was receiving them, I was pretty convinced people were mean, and that nobody was going to love me too openly, or too much, or too physically.


_____Though most people deny it, I believe that early childhood experiences and influences create our underlying world view -- the cellular one, the one we embody, and the one we deal with deepest and longest. One way or another, depending on many other factors, these experiences shape who we become. My 4th grade teacher, for example, kept telling me that I had a "guilty conscience," a concept I did not understand till last year, when I hashed it out with my former Gestalt therapist: essentially, the sense of feeling guilty all the time, but having done nothing wrong.

_____This happens when we are so psychologically pruned and emotionally curtailed that we begin to attack ourselves because it's all we can do; we can't attack God and Goddess, after all, so we turn it on ourselves. That is guilt.

_____Fairly early in my life, both of my parents also ended up with serious gastrointestinal disease, and both nearly died of it, if I understand the medical facts correctly; one, badly stricken twice, is on lifelong medication, and one underwent major surgery to remove a big part of the colon. This is, in holistic terms, the sign of seriously messed up emotions; it is a picture of my early environment.

_____After my parents got divorced, I was raised mostly by my mother, though to some extent I raised her. I arrived in high school as a friendly young adult with evolved mental abilities, a strong social conscience, and bearing a gift for writing that had been obvious at the age of 10; I did not think of it this way, of course; I was just me, and did what I thought was right. Yet at the same time I was struggling with a kind of emotional malnutrition. I was loving. I knew what it meant to love, and to be in love; this I had known for a long time, and felt freely. But noticing, accepting, and being open to love coming back to me was the hard part. I could not carry or sustain the feeling, in my body or heart, of receiving or accepting affection. It was not that I consciously felt unworthy. I just could not relate to being loved, or being loved without a lot of anger, nervousness, aggression, resentment and guilt mixed in. I did not believe it was possible. On a cellular level, I am still not convinced.

_____As I look back over my adult life -- I'm about to turn 37, so I have a little history -- I can see that this manifested three ways. First, in responding with utter panic when my earliest close relationships with rather lovely girlfriends reached the point of real love and vulnerability. Next, after that stage, I began manifesting what one of my friends summarized as "unavailable women," a long series of female friends and lovers who were not quite there, who went away or never fully showed up, situations which were in many ways reminiscent of my early childhood experience. A lot of women have, in recent years, arrived in my life wanting to open up and, after having done so, moved on.

_____Third, I began training as a healer at the age of 22, not really understanding what I was doing or why, but doing it none the less. My point of entry was the Course in Miracles; I lived in a spiritual community where I was introduced to a wide variety of healing modalities and spiritual ideas, from energy bodies to massage therapy to macrobiotics, all of which have all contributed to who I am today. In the mid-90s, having inherited a little money, I was able to continue working with excellent practitioners and teachers, and to stop working for a while and study astrology. By my Saturn return, I went into astrology full-time, moving from relating (as a reporter) with the government, its corrupt operatives, selfish corporations and the duped public, to working with people one-on-one as their reflecting board and witness to their growth processes.

_____I have learned a lot about humanity and my humanity in the process.

_____I have been witness to many people making real changes in their lives, many healings of old pain, many actualized dreams.

_____Astrology, meanwhile, has been a truly awesome teacher on the subject of understanding myself.

_____I rebelled against my parents in highly constructive ways. My father is a nuclear power consultant; I took on dioxin polluters. My mother was in sales (Smurfs) and retired young; I chose a spiritually-oriented career path. Neither were "calculated" rebellion -- I just wanted to do things my own way, based on my own ideas about right and wrong.

_____But, at this point today, I am still learning how to accept, receive and metabolize personal love, love given to me. I am still learning that I can have women in my life whose love is richer in compassion and nurturing than was my mother's, and more emotionally present and less judgmental than was my father's. I am still learning that love need not always be tainted by rage and resentment, or sundered by absence.

_____I know that my crisis of love has been a kind of celiac of the heart, an inability to receive, or to metabolize, love; it's a situation that has left me far, thousands of miles or many dimensions or long decades away, from the love I need and the love I want: truly, far from the love that I make.

_____I have learned a lot in the meanwhile. These days, I am being pretty good to myself. Recognizing what homeopaths call the constitutional level of my early childhood illness, I have again removed just about all wheat products from my diet. I live in a home where we eat good food all the time; my housemate and I have a truly nurturing relationship. He wants peace and creativity in his home, and I want peace and creativity in mine. We are both really really really into music -- Deadheads, as the saying goes. And we are seriously not into drugs, he based on common sense, me, as a devotion.

_____I invest a lot of my energy in learning how to breathe, and to keep my environment and my diet fully breathable. I have work that I love, work that both feeds me and helps people in tangible ways, creative work about which I have no ethical qualms whatsoever. I am daily witness to the very important fact that lives can get better. And I am keeping my social conscience in its place, treating my urge to "save the planet" as a kind of misguided impulse to detoxify my parents and my weird family. They can detoxify themselves if they want.

_____With these developments, I am bearing the fruits of many years of work invested in myself, and three years of almost continuous travel looking for a home and community to live in, and of relationships with mentors and teachers who really care about me, who endorse my work and my ideas without tearing me down or being jealous of what I create. My lovers have been teachers, and some have been companions. A number of men, including some great lawyers, taught me how to survive, or directly helped me do it. Several male lovers helped me open up and discover my sexuality in ways I had not imagined possible.

_____If you read my web pages, you get the benefits of those relationships, and of everything I learn about life from my amazing, brave, beautiful clients.

_____I have, to a great extent, learned how to synthesize within myself the love that I was not getting, and as new relationships enter my life, the theme of fearless selfloving is front and center: I put it there.

_____I do, however, still have to watch a tendency to send things like Valentine's day cards to people who might not send one back. I keep an eye on that.

Good to be with you,

Eric Francis

On Puget Sound
Jan. 31, 2001

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