A contribution to our July prompt, Rev. Dr. Barbara’s word “stressure” comes from others telling a survivor how to heal, thinking they know best. Sometimes recognizing and fighting “stressure” means defending oneself against people who try to “help” in misguided, harmful ways. Dr. Barb acknowledges with empathy and conviction that healing is different for everyone, and it requires space and time.



by The Rev. Dr. Barbara Edema

Do you feel stressure?

Do you feel the stress and pressure from others to be just fine?

It’s hard to live up to other people’s ideas of how you should be.

It’s hard to take care of other people’s emotional needs, when their needs are rooted in you being “normal” again.




They don’t know how burdensome they are.

“Be whole. Be healed. Be happy. Be acceptable. Be how you used to be (before you were devoured).”

“It’s been a long time. Get over it.”

“It’s been a short time. You make me uncomfortable.”

“Make yourself ‘normal’ I don’t like the discomfort of you.”

Their words add pain to pain.

You want to scream, “Get off!”

You want to shout, “Get out!”

You want to cry, “Get away…I do not want the stressure you are piling on me.”

It’s interesting, isn’t it? Their needs have the power to impede your healing.

But only if you give them the power. They try to take it, yes, they try.

They try to guilt you, yes, they do.

Not because they want to hurt you, but they don’t understand their demands cannot make you “feel fine.”

What can you do? You’re already working so hard to put one foot in front of the other. You’re learning to breathe again. Your greatest goal is just to sleep through the night.

Their words snatch the good moments. Their demands snatch increments of peace.


It’s the last thing you need. It is not your job to acquiesce to the stressure of others. It is not your responsibility to heal their emotional ills.

You are allowed to feel your feelings. You are allowed to have bad days. You are allowed to have good days. You are allowed to live your life the way you wish. No stressure.

So how about this:

Take all that stressure, and the people who cover you with it,

and tell them to fuck off.

Then maybe you will feel just fine.




The Reverend Dr. Barbara Edema has been a pastor for over twenty five years. Her most recent pastorate was interim work at an open and affirming church in Grand Ledge, Michigan. She is a survivor of sexual abuse. She is the author of poems and prose about abuse and healing. She is also the author of The Pastor Maggie Series available at Amazon.com and Pen-L.com. She is a wife, mother, and happy owner of four rescue cats.