Chapter By Chapter Synopsis of My Memoir

Credit: cafepress.com
Credit: cafepress.com

 

CHAPTER-BY-CHAPTER SYNOPSIS

 

LOOKING WITHIN: A MEMOIR

 

One Woman’s Search for Her Truth and the Spiritual Awakening that Resulted

 

Elizabeth Cárdenas

 

 

  Part One: The Meeting

 

 

Chapter 1: Love at First Sound

 

“A lady’s imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment.” ~Jane Austen

 

 This first chapter explains how I met my ex-husband. He was a musician and I was mesmerized when I saw and heard him play for the first time. Having met him would not be a coincidence. I go throughout my “picture perfect” marriage to the problems that arose in the last couple of years. Throughout my marriage, I put him first, and I put myself second. Writing has been a passion of mine since I was a little girl, yet I didn’t do it during my marriage. In fact, no passions of mine would come to the surface when I was married. Growing up in a Mexican household, I saw my mother do everything for my father, and I would imitate this when I became a wife. A “good wife” was supposed to clean, cook, serve her husband, do the laundry and iron for him, etc. I did all that and much more. Needless to say, problems arose and I became resentful.

 

 

Part Two: Emotional Healing

 

 

Chapter 2: Detachment

 

“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” ~Winston Churchill

 

This chapter discusses my emotional detachment from my ex-husband. Guilt, shame, and depression set in, but thankfully, I met one of my angels on Earth: my counselor Christina. I began counseling on my own. I discuss the stages of grief as my counselor had pointed this out to me: denial, resentment and anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance, and I apply them to my experience. Although my healing began as emotional healing, something very special was happening. Something unexplainable as I started dream and my dreams in many ways came true and made me even feel peace. Amidst all this pain, I was able to find hope. Nevertheless, the pain outweighed my peace at the time and the result was extreme disillusionment of my marriage. Divorce was inevitable and it was only a matter of time before I filed for it.

 

Chapter 3: Alone Again

 

“When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

This chapter begins with the divorce papers being served to my ex-husband and separated from him, I found myself alone again. All throughout this time, I questioned why this had happened and I questioned my existence. With a plethora of questions and no answers, I even questioned God. “Why would You do this to me?”, I’d ask Him. Briefly, I discuss my religion, Catholicism, and the role it played in my life during this time and I how I also questioned it. Although the pain continued, I had more for better days. Counseling and my divorce support group helped me tremendously, and for the first time, I learned about emotional healing in one of my counseling sessions. That day, I made the conscious decision to heal emotionally and I would keep my promise.  The chapter ends with a return to love as I began to love myself again and slowly began to have glimpses of happy moments. I put my faith and trust in God with all this.

 

Chapter 4: A Well Deserved Break

 

“Fear doesn’t exist anywhere except in the mind.” ~Dale Carnegie

 

About 4 months after the separation, I came across Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. I read it and thought, “I could do something like that.” After working nine years as a first grade teacher, I deserved a break. Nurturance of my spirit was in order and it was during this time that I yearned to learn about music and to play piano. I took a Classical music class and a piano class at East Los Angeles College. Exhausted and burnt out were perfect words to describe this teacher during this time. Initially, fear held me from making my decision to sell my home and go abroad. Once I made my decision, it was a done deal. My ex-husband and I put the house for sale and I went in September 2007 to Granada, Spain for a semester. For the first time in years, I began to put myself first in my life.

 

Chapter 5: More Changes: Going Back to School

 

“We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the life that is waiting for us.” ~ Joseph Campbell

 

My stay abroad would only last four months, but it was enough for me. I missed my family dearly and I wanted to see them. Although I was ecstatic about the changes in my life and my new experiences, I began to feel lost. I was living with my parents again and in many ways I felt like a little girl. My counselor said that moving in with my parents would be a great thing because I would get nurturance from them – something I needed at the time. Confused, I contemplated what I wanted for myself. The answer was to go back to school and to get another master’s degree in linguistics. By no means was it a walk a park in the park, but learning is one of my passions and this return to school was what I needed. My faith and my spirituality were growing. My life and my divorce was making more sense to me and I kept my faith and trust in God.

 

Part Three: Spiritual Healing

 

Chapter 6: Bumps in the Road

 

“My imperfections and failures are as much a blessing from God as my successes and my talents, and I lay them both at His feet.” ~ Gandhi

 

            There were some “problems” that I encountered as I began to awaken spiritually. I began to see the world in a completely different way and many incidents were happening that I could not explain. For example, I would be overcome with feelings of joy and peace: bliss, if you will. Peace took more presence in my life, but it wasn’t consistent. Change was now something that I welcomed more easily and speaking my truth was something I was learning to do. Finally, I was finding my own voice and I simply let it be. However, during this time, I also allowed myself to become stressed with school and, once again, I had to deal with not only depression, but a relapse of my mental illnesses: manic depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Aside from counseling, I began to see a psychiatrist and Seroquel, Lithium, and Zoloft entered my life and put me in numbed state as I began taking these drugs. Questioning Western medicine lead to believe that I could slowly rid myself on this dependence of drugs. Nathaniel Hawthorne once wrote, “A bodily disease which we look upon as whole and entire within itself, may, after all, be but a symptom of some ailment in the spiritual part.” With all this medication, peace took a back seat in my life and I greatly missed it. Although I had no idea of what it was to heal spiritually, I made the conscious choice to heal spiritually anyways. At the end of this chapter, I discuss what I saw as problems as illusions and how they were merely spiritual lessons to be learnt on this path.

 

 

Chapter 7: Kindness and Compassion – A Semester with Adults

 

“Our main goal is to help others. If you cannot help them, then at least resist from hurting them.” ~Dalai Lama

 

After leaving the world of primary education, I taught adults for 7 months. Armed with courage and with some fear, I began teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) classes to adults at a non-profit organization in Northern California. This entire experience was very humbling for me as I learnt so much from them. Being the first time I taught adults and ESl, my students held my hand and little by little I learned how to teach them and to teach ESL. Words cannot express the gratitude that they had for receiving the English lessons and for their teacher. During this time, I began to be even kinder and to develop compassion for not only my students, but for myself, as well. This chapter ends with learning the true meaning of being one.

 

Chapter 8: Gratitude and Patience – The High School Year

 

“Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.” ~ St. Francis

 

Following the semester with adults, and armed with courage, I signed up to teach high school. In this chapter, I talk about the gratitude I now have for everything in my life as well as the patience. Also, I discuss the law of attraction and I apply to manifest both my job and my wonderful, new relationship. Throughout this school year, I had numerous questions such as why am I teaching high school? Then, it dawned on me one day. Physically and emotionally, it took a lot out of me. I was worrying yet again. It wasn’t until I learnt to let things go and let things be that I started to be myself again. I surrendered. More changes came as a result including a defining moment: my own epiphany. Around this time I read Many Lives, Many Masters by Brian L. Weiss. In it, he discusses, how we return in physical form to learn a spiritual lesson. In my humble opinion, I believe that in this lifetime I am meant to learn patience. My life events have yielded so many opportunities where I have had to be patient not only with others, but with myself, as well. This patience that I am learning has resulted in more peace for me, and those close to me. Patience also taught me to surrender and to simplify my life. I allowed what the Universe was blessing me with and I let my life events transpire. I let things be. Realizing this brought me great joy and happiness.

 

Chapter 9:  A Happy Heart of My Own

 

 “Happiness resides not in possessions, and not in gold, happiness dwells in the soul.” ~ Democritus

 

            This chapter begins with being grateful for learning to be happy regardless of what was happening in my life. Staying in the present moment has brought me peace, and that peace in turn has brought me happiness. Learning to let go of material possessions (as this isn’t true happiness), as well as letting go of fears to follow my heart has also contributed to my happiness. Suppressing my ego was key to go in the direction of true happiness for myself. In his book, The Power of Intention, Dr. Dyer lists the 7 Steps for Overcoming Ego’s Hold of You and they are the following: 1. Stop being offended, 2. Let go of the need to win, 3. Let go of the need to be right, 4. Let go of the need to be superior, 5. Let go of the need to have more, 6. Let go of identifying on the basis of your achievements, and 7. Let go of your reputation. In this chapter, I list each one and I give specific examples as to how this manifested in my own life. Finally, I discuss the dependence society has on antidepressants to achieve a state of happiness. The end of this chapter concludes with a quote from Ernst Shurtleff Holmes’ book Creative Mind:

As it’s given me to perceive,

I most certainly believe

When a man’s glad plumb through,

God’s pleased with him same’s you.

 

 

Part Four: My Purpose in Life

 

Chapter 10: Coming Into My Own

 

“Our Creator would never have made such lovely days, and have given us the deep hearts to enjoy them, above and beyond all thought, unless we were meant to be immortal.” ~Nathaniel Hawthorne

 

            This chapter begins with answering my question on the meaning of my life. Why am I here? My answer lied in looking within myself. Because each of us has the divine spark, we are spiritual beings in physical bodies. We are, therefore, immortal and perfect as we are. My soul searching resulted in my finding both my inner and outer purposes. Seeking my truth and my never ending questioning brought me great peace as I made that fateful reconnection with God. Also, I discuss the love I have for others and myself as the greatest gift that I have given to myself and to them. Finding my balance in my life through meditation, nurturance of my spirit, and living in the present moment contributed to my spiritual awakening, as well. The divorce made it all possible and, in retrospect, it really is the best thing that has ever happened to me. The culmination of this spiritual journey resulted in the everyday miracles and a love for life. This chapter ends with my favorite poem: The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost.

 

 

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth.

 

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same.

 

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

 

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

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