Displacement

Today, I came home and looked up the word displacement. It has been a term I have been struggling with quite a bit. I wanted to make sure it accurately described how I feel on occasion. I was right. In simple terms, we have all had a bad day at work and we come home crabby and irritable and yell at the dog, the kids and anyone in your way. Are you really mad at them or was it the effects of your bad day and you have taken your anger out at them.

I could most likely give you 101 examples of displacement with the families I have dealt with. They are mad that their loved one is ill, the patient finds out bad test results or they know they do not have much time left. They are mad and you are there. It is not a daily thing but it happens enough that I should know what it is and when it comes along.

A year ago, I took care of a woman with a daughter that lived out of town. She would send me terrible e-mails about her Mom’s care and what we were doing wrong. I would see her email in my inbox, my heart would accelerate and I did not want to open it. There was no pleasing this family. Their mother was having a very difficult time with her memory loss. She was a woman in her early 60’s and as you can imagine, the children were having a very difficult time with the diagnosis. I could relate on every level. Their anger was normally directed at our staff and myself. We were the ones in charge, thus their anger. I know it was not about me, but it was all about their grief and I was in direct aim of their fire.

Displacement. I think I also have it. Some of you know I have been having a tough time with my Mom’s roommates daughter. She is a woman that has a Mom with end stage dementia. I think of hard that must be for her.

When I first met the woman, she started to rearrange my Mom’s stuff, lecture me on the amount of mini-snicker bars I had for her, calling my Mom by the wrong name (!) and let me know that Mom was not brushing her teeth enough. It was been awhile since I have met such a woman. I feel sometimes the air is being sucked out of me when she is in the room. She takes up the whole room. I breathe differently every time she is there. To make a long story short, she is in the medical world, like myself but at a much higher level. I know because she has told me 500x what she does. It came out that she talked about my Mom to a social worker friend of mine and in conversation, she was appalled at how much candy I give her and other things. My heart broke. After a few months, I confronted the daughter and it did not go well. I just asked her to please not talk about my Mom in her medical setting. Now she ignores me and reported me to the building. Yippee. The building has been very understanding, just so you know.

When I think of how I should have handled this in a different way, I am reminded of that dang word. Am I displacing my anger on the daughter because of my loss of Mom? Should I just have kept my feelings to myself? Why does this woman bug the heck out of me? Does she think I am a bad daughter because I give her candy? Questions I am not sure of. We are both dealing with grief and maybe our grief is one in the same but we are handling it in a different way. Loss is loss not matter how you look at it. For the record, I am still buying mom nuts and snicker’s, her favorite. If she only had one month left on this planet, I hope she goes down with a snicker bar and coffee in her cup right beside her. As it should be.

I think that if you can understand the word and what it means, that is the first step. Baby steps for me this week.