Hi, I wanted to take the opportunity to share my story of what it’s like to grow up twinless. The few accounts I’ve read of before echo thoughts and feelings I have had and have helped me to replace some of the confusion with understanding. I hope that my sharing is able to help someone in some small way such as I’ve been helped.
My story begins around my sixteenth birthday when, for some unknown reason, I seemed to have hit a crisis point. I think it was the thoughts of suicide that really brought me to a point that things were as bad as they seemed. All I knew was what I told my mother on those many evenings when I would seek her out in the hopes that she might help me out of my pain. She would usually be ironing or doing some other household chore when I would enter the room and make my presence known. That’s about all I seemed able to achieve because when I tried to say something, the words wouldn’t come out. There were a couple of times though when in between the tears, I’d say “Mom, I don’t think I was made for this world.” I hadn’t found out yet that I had been one of twins and that my brother had died while still inutero. I could feel that I was creating an awkward situation for my mother. She told me later that she felt deeply for me, but just didn’t know of anything to say or do to make me better. Often, I would become angry with her.
For years, when I seemed to reach bottom, I would seek her out or someone else I thought that might be able to help me. I saw ministers, counselors and even tried to talk to a few friends, but I often walked away feeling more frustrated than anything. I did have this Sunday School teacher named Carol, who incidentally was a twin, whom I really bonded with. My own mother oftentimes became jealous and said many painful things that would keep me home in my room, alone, rather than with Carol. Though, as with the others, I couldn’t talk to Carol, I did feel something akin to a soothing effect around here.
The series of events that led up to me learning about my twinship began when a friend of mine suggested that I go to see this lady who was a psychic. Having come from a very religious home, I at first felt like this wasn’t an option for me, but I was desperate for someone to help me and so any hesitation I had soon melted away. I took my friend’s offer up and copied the lady’s phone number down. From a pay phone, I called her up to schedule a sitting and she gave me the day, time and place. I hung up, not placing very much hope in what I might encounter, but then a little hope was better than none.
I showed up at designated place and time and have to say that my first impression of things wasn’t a very good one. I could’ve just left, but I thought ‘I have nothing to lose’ so I stayed. And just in case she
might actually be psychic, I told her on our way back to her kitchen that I didn’t want to know anything about my future.
After I sat down opposite her at the kitchen table, she took out a set of regular playing cards with alot of marks on them. I didn’t know what the marks meant, but wondered for a minute where I could get a set She had me separate them and then she shuffled them and laid them out into groups. She asked if I was going to become a minister, to which I replied “My parents would like me to.” She moved on to describe my parents and did a pretty good job, but still, I felt that she could have gathered all this from my demeanor and what had transpired from the moment I walked through the door.
Then… She told me that I had died near the beginning of my life. I was shocked! How could she know this? I knew that 8 hours after I was born my lungs collapsed and I had a near death experience that lasted 4 1/2 minutes. I confirmed her claim and listened on. She then stated that my mother was in labor for almost two weeks after I was born. I never heard of this and so I couldn’t confirm or deny it so she asked that I check with my mother and get back to her. Next, she asked if I had a twin. Again, I told her that my mother never said anything about a twin and again, she asked me to check with my mother and get back to her. She said that she was going to continue despite my uncertainty. What follows was her telling me that I did have a twin and that originally, I had been the one that had died and he the one that lived to be born and then undergo that near death experience I mentioned earlier. She told me that we were both there when the doctor was resuscitating him and that he had let me come into the body. Everything she said seemed to turn my world topsy turvy, but yet it was a world [which] resonated with me.
That night, I had dream. I was lying in my bed and feeling so alone as I usually did when I felt this brush against my arm. I didn’t need to look over because I could feel him. The only way to describe the experience was of everything that moved in me, all my feelings of lonliness and confusion, came to rest. This image came to my mind of this necklace with two pieces that had been broken into shards had come back together.
I rolled over and used my arm to raise my head as I looked at him. I asked “Who are you?” He replied ”You know who I am.” I laughed. “yeah, I know who you are.” I said. I asked “How long have you been here?” He said “I’ve always been here.” I responded ”Yes, I think I knew that.” Just then I yawned and he said “you’re tired. you should get some sleep.” I said “oh no, if I close my eyes, you’ll go away.” He said “No, I’ll always be here.” I did end up falling asleep by his side and then while still dreaming, time had passed so that it had become morning. My mother came into to wake me up, but in the course of the night I had fallen off of the bed leaving him to be the one she woke up. When I had heard her come in, I had stayed low so she couldn’t see me. After she left, we laughed that she had confused him for me and then the scene changed again and it was getting dark suddenly. I found myself out on our front porch looking down at my watch. The dream scene began to fade and I heard his voice saying “I’ll be back.”
While I was afraid during the first day to ask my mother about the things the psychic lady wanted me to, after the dream, I just had to know the truth and so, during a car ride to my grandmother’s house, I asked her.
I began with the question “Mom, were you in labor after I was born?” She jerked the staring wheel sending us off onto the birm as she turned to look at me in the back seat. “Who told you?” she asked me. I said “This lady.” She said “Yes, I was in labor, for almost 2 1/2 weeks.” “After you were born, the doctor had left the afterbirth in me,” I spoke over what she had said next as I then asked “Did I have a twin?”
She answered in the affirmative telling me that after being rushed to the emergency room because she couldn’t walk anymore, the doctors had removed the afterbirth and later reported to her that there had been a second baby, fully formed, but [whom] had stopped growing.” She told me that she never told anyone, not even my father about my twin. I came clean then about having visited this psychic lady who told me this and rather than getting chastized, was meant with a response that was more like awe and wonder about who this lady was.
Over the next 18 years (I’m now 34) I would have my mother repeat the story of my and my brother’s birth because it all still feels so unreal. Yet, I can feel its truth in my heart and over the years have come to make sense of much of my feelings and thoughts that seemed alien to me before. For instance, since I first encountered a black rose and its significance (age 11), I had alway requested one for my birthday. It was just one more thing that confirmed my grandmother’s statement that I was a strange child. I also had/have the habit of buying two pairs of shoes, two shirts, all two of the same. Even knowing what I know today still isn’t enough to squelch it. There’s also my odd habit of oftentimes referring to “we” rather than to me. I don’t really seem to be aware of this until it is brought to my attention by others. When I was around 12 years old, I remember reading this book called “Sybil” about a woman with multiple personalities and I would then go around telling people I had multiple personalities. Actually, I didn’t bear any of the symptoms of the disorder, but there was this one thing that Sybil reported and that was that she felt double. It was the only way I knew then to express how I felt. Of course, this too would startle my parents and relatives who just thought I was overly imaginative and had odd interests. Fast forward to when I turned 32. Since finding out at 16 years old that I had a twin brother, I found some measure of peace and understanding say for instance, of why I was always seeking out some other guy to bond with (an attempt to find a surrogate) or spending my last dime to buy a second pair of something that I didn’t need a second pair of. It was at 32 though, that alot of unrest came back to me. I could see that over the previous 10 years I had been struggling with issues of identity and career. And then there was this feeling, a pulling that was always present and would intensify whenever I wasn’t doing anything. So I would keep busy, but I could still feel it there dimly in the background. I knew what it was and it brought up all these thoughts and feelings. On one hand, I would ask myself if my twin were here, would he approve of me and what I did? What would it be like if he were here now or if he had been here instead of me? On the other hand, I wanted to deny him. How could someone I never knew have so much of an impact on me? I get angry and I don’t understand this. Yet I still have my mother recount the words she spoke so many times before “the doctor said there
had been a twin but..”
Last year, after a particularly difficult weekend, my mother had returned from a trip so excited to see me because of something she had wanted to share. She had been unaware of my depression the night before, of wondering what life would have been like if he had survived. She told me that in a dream she had the night before, that she and my father were returning from the casino when she was entering into the restaurant at the hotel when she was told that a table was being held for her. As she walked over to where it was at, she saw this guy from behind and when she got nearer he turned. She gasped she said because here was this guy who looked exactly like me, yet sheknew that I was not there because I had to work. She asked him “who are you?” and he smiled (she said she has my smile). He said his name was Nathaniel. She told him to wait right there while she went to get me, but as she walked away she woke up. Upon hearing this, I got this strong sense, as if he is somewhere living his life and though we are apart, we are each living out our lives to their completion until the day we won’t be separated again ever.
Today, I live day by day. With the help of Twinless Twins and opportunities to share my story I find some quieting of the pulling within me. It’s a compulsion I have to share with others, my twinship, not letting people miss this very important part of who I am despite the fact they might not be able to see otherwise. Sometimes, I feel as if I am leading two separate lives. Currently, I work as a dorm parent at a boarding school, but during the summers, spend an inordinate amount of time in Quebec volunteering.
There is the “French” me and then there is the ”English” me. Though it can be exhausting at times, it feels natural and right. Yet there is still something that doesn’t seem quite right. When I come to think of a wife and children, which I feel my life incomplete without with, I can’t imagine any other person in my life meaning as much to me as my twin.
Because of this, I seem to be frozen in the feelings I come to have for others.
What the future [will] hold for me, I’m not sure. But despite my many struggles, including my struggle to believe in an afterworld and an existence beyond physical death. I hold onto the last words I heard in that dream before I awoke. “I’ll be back.”