Displacement happens when you return home or when you experience the first semblance of ‘normalcy.’  When the return home is literal, the beginning of this phase is easy to notice: you just came back from volunteering for a New Orleans disaster clean-up, from travel into the deep interior of China, from work after you have been laid off, or from the hospital after major surgery.

If there is no physical movement involved displacement begins after the initial flurry of phone calls slow down, everyone knows of your situation, all business related to your drama have died down, and you now face life immediately following the transformative events. In the case for example, having your home burn down, displacement begins when you have secured a semi-permanent place to live.


Displacement means that you feel out of place and in shock. In a real way you are not really here, nor back there somewhere in the past. Instead you are somewhere between wondering “What happened to me?”, “How this possible”, “Is this real,” or “Am I dreaming?” You might feel disjointed, splintered, and detached. Even if you are returning from a positive experience, there is a way in which you are relieved to have returned to “normalcy” or to the comforts of home and familiar lifestyle “I can sleep in my own bed” or “Eat my favorite foods.” Because you have had a jolt to your life it is soothing to either be alone or to be with others who have experienced the same or similar transformative experiences.


Displacement phase may involve upheaval, meaning a disruption that at the very least is inconvenient and unpleasant, but could be upsetting, or worse, deeply disturbing. Upheaval is something that happens seemingly out of the blue and tends to affect realms related to survival such as money, or your home, body, jobs or primary relationship and is proportionate to the size of your life-changing event.  Minor upheaval could be receiving new job responsibilities or a modest increase in mortgage payment whereas a major upheaval might be the death of a loved one, or loss of your job, residence, or primary relationship. Some upheaval involves positive stress such as being given a new job or opportunity for a place to live. This phase is brief and occurs within the first few hours to weeks after your “return.”

Read More

Read Poem