A Long Journey Back

A Long Journey Back

A life journey of overcoming adversity, near-death and struggle. I emerge as an Entrepreneur, Author, Coach, and Internet Radio Station owner.

A Long Journey Back: From Tragedy to Triumph

At forty-three years old, I was faced with several major changes I needed to make in order to survive. I found the courage to walk away from a twenty-five-year relationship and marriage.

It was a marriage, not based on love, but one of deceit, misery and emotional abuse. Also during this upheaval, I lost my grandmother. A woman who I was devoted to for the last ten years of her life. She was my hero and a woman who was more mother to me than my own, and I was her caregiver. Her death rocked me to the core and I lost track of who I was, my purpose, and the direction I was going.

After my divorce, I was now faced with living on my own for the first time in my life, I was terrified but thrilled because this was what I had waited and prayed for, for many years: I needed to find out who I was and discover my purpose.

I made the choice to go to Mohawk College for Business Administration. After completing the first year, in 2005, I moved from Brantford to London to be with my fiancé: A man who encouraged me and supported me in everything I tried. Together we escaped our previous marriages and began to live our dreams.

I transferred to Fanshawe College in London for a diploma in Business, majoring in Human Resources. My life was falling into place perfectly. Combining two years of education into one, the gauntlet was dropped. Never afraid of hard work, I accepted the challenge and became a full-time student in the midst of having a new home complete with two challenging step-sons, and my two grown sons, who visited frequently bringing their own issues. However, school was my main focus, until a teacher’s strike brought my education to a standstill. Not one to take things lying down, I challenged the system because I had received an offer of employment from a manufacturer of armored vehicles in London. The choice was difficult. I wanted my education but I could not pass up the job offer. So, I made a deal with the school principal to complete my education once the strike was over, and take the job offer; I thought I was set. The principal then agreed to give me my education because we were so close to finishing and it didn’t appear the strike would end quickly.

My new career in Training and Development began. Then suddenly the teachers strike ended and the principal reneged on their deal with me. If I didn’t return to school full time, I would lose my diploma. Now in fighting mode, I pushed back. I challenged the system. I have always been an advocate for fairness. We had a deal and I was going to hold them to it. In the end, I kept my job and attended one class per week. My employer agreed, and so that spring, I graduated with honours.

In June of 2006, I celebrated my marriage to Don. My life had turned around and I was happy for the first time. I knew what love was and I was learning to trust. Yes, we had children and ex-spouse issues, but together we could conquer anything. Or so we thought. I had no idea I would soon be faced with death.

Leaving work in February 2007, I was faced with a horrific winter storm. I was confident in my driving and in my Dodge Ram. The roads were slick with ice and the strong north wind made driving conditions treacherous. That day I changed my route to get home, thinking I would miss the downtown London traffic. I thought it was the right choice, but in the end, this decision almost cost me my life.

Noticing every vehicle and being very aware of my surroundings, I watched as an oncoming truck began losing control. The vehicle continued its treacherous path back and forth across the road. I made the decision to give the oncoming truck room, so I stopped my truck in my lane, as did others who were around us. There was no escaping the scenario that was about to unfold.

Braced with a death-grip on the steering wheel, my right foot pushed firmly onto the brake pedal, and all senses on high-alert, I watched the truck scrape off the side mirror from the vehicle in front of me. After several spins across the road, the truck now aimed directly at me. I was trapped inside my vehicle and screaming inside my head. I was frozen with terror. Would I live? If I did, how badly injured would I be? Suddenly I saw my husband’s face. Would I ever see him again? Terrified and braced for impact, my body remained hyper-vigilant. I will never forget the sights or sounds as long as I live. I believed I was going to die as I watched the truck hit me head-on.

Unable to move, I waited for the emergency vehicles to arrive. I managed to call my husband to tell him what had happened. Never had I been faced with such fear. Once transported to the local hospital, I spent five hours taped to a board and remained unable to move. Later that evening after tests and x-rays, I was released with a neck so fragile, it would not support my head. It was the, “bowling ball on a piece of spaghetti,” syndrome as it was described to me later. I had suffered severe soft tissue injuries, a Type II Whiplash (third time for me), and ten fractured teeth. To add to the trauma, two days later I lost my job, my income and all hope for my future.

For five years, I endured innumerable treatments, medical examinations, surveillance, lawyers and countless indignities by the insurance company. I was the victim of circumstance but pre-existing conditions led the insurance company to treat me as guilty, which lowered my ‘life’ value in dollars and cents. We were now faced with bankruptcy. I was mortified at having my life laid on the table, and discussed as if I didn’t exist, even though I was sitting in the room. For my entire life, I had been a fighter, but this had completely destroyed me. Suddenly I lost the courage to fight. It took five years to settle my claim, but finally, I was free. The accident left me with a brain injury, chronic pain and multiple injuries that would never heal.

For nine years I devalued myself. What am I supposed to do with my life? The settlement had covered the huge debt incurred, but left me with very little. To help fill the void, I began writing a book based on secrets surrounding four generations of my family. Then I was asked to coordinate an internet radio program and do some virtual work. I found this liberating and it allowed me the freedom to set my own work schedule and boundaries. Perfect! I entered the life of an entrepreneur and Syms Solutions was born. I took courses on authorship, leadership and personal growth. Then someone suggested that I become a coach. A solid idea which meshed with my goals and what I had been doing all my life. People always came to me with their problems, and as the nurturer, I did my best to help them. Now, after months of planning and hard work, my book, A Century of Secrets, was happening and my second goal of helping others was about to unfold as well.

PTSD was the new thing I was faced with. Knowing I was not alone in this journey, I created a group call F.I.T.S. (Friends in Trauma Support). My focus is to educate and help people power through their trauma and provide support, education and hope. Even though my life mountain was massive, I have overcome all the obstacles. I was born crippled, survived an abusive childhood, an attempted suicide as a teenager, then choose an unhealthy, destructive marriage. The near-death experience that day in February made me see, “I’m not finished here yet”. It was up to me to take control of my life and make changes despite the pain I have in my spine.

Now nine years later, I am an entrepreneur, author, leader, personal growth and executive coach. When I became aware that it wasn’t my body that would make the difference, everything changed. It is my heart and mind and courage that can make the difference. I now refuse to hide my gifts of intuition, courage and strength. My life purpose has been found and I know I am a strong, powerful woman who will leave this world a better place if I only help one person to see their own value and power.

My business, Syms Solutions, my original Virtual Business, has grown and become the umbrella name for, Gryphon Coaching (where I encourage my clients through personal development and growth, as well as being an Authorship Coach). In November, I launched Encouraging YOU Radio; an Internet Radio Station where we are Motivating the World Through Conversation.

Leaving adversity, a near death experience and childhood violence behind, I gladly walk into my gifts. I have emerged an entrepreneur and author, and welcome my future.

Teresa Syms