Darla Canaday (1st Quarter, 2009)

1st Quarter, 2009
Nursing Scholarship Winner
Darla Canaday

I am a 48 year old woman, originally from Missouri. Now living in Massachusetts.I had always wanted to be an LPN, now I will be graduating from an LPN program in Enfield CT April 2010!  Thanks you so much for the scholarship and good luck to future recipients!

A Portion of Darla’s Winning Essay:

Darla Canaday

Before I can describe the event that has changed my life for the better, let me began by telling you about the events in my life that led to this change. I was born October 24th, 1961, in a small town in Missouri. I was the youngest of five children. My family, although poor in financial areas were rich in others. We were a very close and loving family. My parents, Frederick and Thelma Henson, loved and held old fashioned values.

All through my childhood, it was instilled in me, that a woman’s role in life was to be the best wife and mother that she could be. My parents were not against a woman being educated, but believed, a woman should get her education before marriage and family, not after.

When I was a sophomore in high school, I had met my now ex-husband. We dated for a few years and married in March 28th, 1980. I had always longed to be a nurse, but I was a wife now. Any plans I had previously for myself, were now pushed to the back of my mind, for I was a wife now and three years later I would be a mother. We ended up having three children, bought a home and I “assumed “my position in life as wife and mother.

The red flags were there all along; I can look back and see that now. But a victim of abuse doesn’t see them at the time, or at least I didn’t. From the beginning of our marriage, my husband had spent a lot of time with his “best friend” or so I thought at the time. Any where he went; his “best friend” went also. I was left at home to take care of things there.

After being married for only a month, we had stopped having sex. I knew something was wrong, but instead of seeing another woman, I assumed that he was gay. I was miserable, so I moved out and had filed for a divorce. After speaking with my husband many times, he assured me that he was not gay. I had loved my husband, so onward I went with the relationship.

Things seemed to improve, or at least in my mind at the time. It wasn’t until four years later, I had found out that my husband had been seeing another woman and was even with her the night before our wedding. I was devastated. I confronted him about it, he actually admitted it. He promised he would end the affair. I loved my husband, so satisfied with that, I put the thought out of my mind.

During my first pregnancy, I had gained a lot of weight. When my husband was around, he would monitor my food intake, literally. He would make comments such as, “Do you really think you need to eat that?” I wasn’t allowed to wear sweat because, people that wear sweats tend to become “to comfortable” and stay fat. I would ask my husband sometimes if he thought I was pretty. He would say,” Well I guess you’re alright.” Comments were also made about my c-section scars. Still, I pushed all of these negative things out of my mind, because I loved him.

When my oldest son was about six months old, I had decided to attend the Baptist church, across the street from my house. About twenty minutes into the service, one of the women from the nursery came up to me, and wanted me to come o the nursery and get my son. My baby was very upset, and would not stop crying. I picked him up to comfort him and the crying continued. I ask them if anything had happened. They said, “ He was fine until one of the ladies was playing with him, with a stuffed bear, and then he became very upset. I had taken him home and he was fine.

About a week after the incident, one of his Grandmas had bought him a five foot stuffed bear. When he saw the bear, he became visibly upset, to the point that I had to remove it from his room. I brought this concern to my husbands’ attention. He laughed and said,” I was playing with him with one of his stuffed bears and he seemed afraid of it.” When my son was two, I was trying to potty train him. He would urinate in the toilet but seemed to be afraid to sit on the seat. Eventually this behavior stopped, but he would never sit back far enough. I ask him one time, “Why won’t you sit back?” He said, “Daddy told me a crocodile lives in there and will pull me in.”

I was furious at his father. I confronted my husband and made him tell our son in front of me that there was no such thing going to happen. My husband would never give me money for the kids’ clothes or school activities, but always seemed to have extra money for new guns, camo, and fishing equipment. In other words, we did without while he bought the things for himself.

The years seemed to fly by quickly, and as always, Darla put up with things, at least I knew that I was a good wife and mother. In 1999, my husband decided that I should get a job at the local factory, working with him. I applied and was hired. I worked in the packing house while my husband worked in the back as a mechanic. I quickly made friends and had became close friends with a woman named “Cathy “and her husband “Marvin “whom by the way was one of my foremen.

In 2001 they decided to give me a 40th birthday party. It was going to be an outside event. A weenie roast, hay ride. Lots of people from the factory were invited. I was excited; nobody had ever made a big deal out of my birthday before, or any other occasion. I though everything had went well until the next day. Some people at the factory decided to start the rumor that I had slept with “Marvin” at my party. This was the most ridiculous thing that I had ever heard. My husbands actually approached me and ask about it. I told him that this was silly. I was around “Cathy” the whole evening and within his view.

Things continued to spiral downhill from there. I was invited to go out to eat, at least once a week with my friends. I was beginning to get a life and he didn’t like that fact at all. I started losing weight from the heat at the factory. We made glass bottles so the temperatures were around 180 degrees on the packing house floor. I was losing weight, making new friends and after all these years, I begun to realize that there is life out there.

My husband had convinced himself that I was sleeping around, which was totally absurd. I worked the same shift as him and rode to and from work with him, so where I was supposed to find time to supposedly sneak around was beyond me. I had begged my husband to go to marriage counseling, but that was out of the question.

Not only were problems at home stressful, but as work was becoming unbearable as well. My husband spent more time in my department than he did his own. My inner desire to go to nursing school had resurfaced and with that I quit the factory and returned to school. I was happy about returning to college, but in his eyes, he didn’t see it as a good movement. I finally realized that my home life was not a happy one and I made plans to leave him. I loved him but was no longer in love with him. I discussed this idea with my family physician first. She told me that before I did this, she would like for me to speak with a psychologist.

At the time I couldn’t see it, but I had developed an eating disorder. My weight had plummeted to an unhealthy level. My clothes hung on me and I held my pants up with belts. All scales were removed from the home and when I went to visit the doctor they made me weigh backwards. Even though I was a walking skeleton, when ever I looked in the mirror, I still seen this fat person staring back at me. I agreed to me with the psychologist, but only for one visit.

On my first visit, the psychologist had ask me to tell him about myself, family and relationship with my husband. I felt comfortable with him so I told him everything and agreed to a set number of sessions. Another question that he had asked me on the first visit was, “Darla has you ever stepped out of the shower or bath and looked at yourself in the mirror?” I replied, “Yes.” He then said tell me what you see. I burst into tears and replied, “Fat, Ugly and Scars.”

Throughout the sessions as my self esteem began to improve, I decided now, that I was ready to leave my husband. I approached him one night and explained that I felt our relationship was not a normal one, and while I did love him, I was no longer in love with him. He started crying and begging me not to go. He even agreed to meet with my psychologist. I called my psychologist and he agreed to a few meetings with him.

During my sessions, I was given several tests. After completion of them all, the psychologist had come to the conclusion, that I was very stable and very intelligent. He told me that my only problem was the constant stress that I was living under. He set up a final visit with my husband and me. He presented his findings and strongly suggested marriage counseling. He said, “If not, Darla will continue to grow and possibly grow apart from you.” My husbands’ only reply was “Go fuck yourself.”

Later that evening, while the kids were all watching TV, my husband wanted me to come into the bedroom to talk. He went in ahead of me and when I went in he was sitting on the bed with a pistol in his hand. He had a wild look in his eyes. He then proceeded to tell me that no other man will ever have me. I told him had I wanted another man, I would just go get one. He told me if I did, he would kill us both. I ran out of the house and went to my mothers. I called him and told him to get out and if he didn’t I would call the police. He moved out but came by everyday and begged and pleaded to move back home. I finally let him move back on the condition that no guns were allowed in the house, he abided by this.

Things were better for a short time but eventually went back to the same, only now I knew that I was growing and changing. I also knew that I was not in love with this man but was afraid to tell him. I tried leaving a second time when our daughter had rented an apartment in a neighboring town. I figured if I told him and did it this way, he wouldn’t think that I was sneaking around, WRONG. He slept in the parking lot all night and then escorted me home the next morning.

I tried to assume my role as the perfect wife, and figured that I would fall back in love with him. I lived this way for two more years and still I wasn’t in love or happy. I knew this time if I was going to leave, I needed to go far away. I had been in touch with some friends in Massachusetts, and had told them what was going on. They invited me to come here. I had never driven 40 miles outside of my home, but knew if I wanted to live and be happy, this was something that I had to do.

The day after our youngest sons’ graduation, I map quested Springfield, Massachusetts, put some pictures and clothes in the car and away I went. I drove twenty two hundred miles, all by myself. At one point I did almost turn around and go back. But to what? The rest of my years with a man I no longer loved but couldn’t leave for fear of death? I had my cingular cell phone with me but realized that the signal could be traced. With that in mind, I chucked my cell phone out the window in Illinois and continued my journey. I’m now divorced and the happiest I have been in years. I can look in the mirror now and truly say, I love you Darla! I have learned a valuable lesson from all of my years. What didn’t kill me has made stronger. I think most psychologist would agree with how things turned out. The only thing I regret, is that I didn’t do it sooner.

1 thought on “Darla Canaday (1st Quarter, 2009)”

  1. my name is Frances Orembe from kenya, l m very happy to read your story, you’re a very strong lady, l m 22 years of age, my dream was, l wanted to be a nurse, so help me in any way on how to get a scholarship in a broad, my parents are not working to pay for me school fees, so please with good faith help and only God will know what will happens, thank you my email is ncescah@yahoo.com, thank you

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