From the diary of a twin substitute:
1.10. I told x I really like her. She beamed at me and seemed so happy. It felt good, I'm glad to be her friend.
3.10. Had coffee with x. We talked a lot. It was nice.
8.10. X seems to be mad at me. I have no idea why.
From the diary of a twinless twin.
1.10. Y has told me he likes me. I'm so happy. It feels like I have my twin back.
3.10. I really feel connected to Y. Like he was my twin. I feel I can tell him anything.
5.10. Y hasn't whatsapped me in 36 hours. I feel he doesn't like me anymore.
6.10. I feel so abandonned. Y has seen my messages but didn't reply. It's like losing my twin all over again.
8.10. Saw Y shortly downtown but couldn't talk much, I hurt so.
I was introduced to the term Twin Substitute through Dr. Barbara Klein's "Alone in the Mirror". Many twinless twins do this, look for a twin substitute. There are even some wo succeed, who find a person who is not a twin but happy to try and play the part. It's rare but not unheard of and there are people who win the lottery, too.
Most of us fail, and for early loss twins it's especially hard because we mostly don't know what is even going on. We just notice we are really, really, REALLY bad at relationships. People tend to distance themsleves from us after an initial time of seemingly entering into a close friendship, we are misunderstood or misinterpreted. As small kids we are labelled "over demanding" or "fussy" or "attention seeking". Parents and teachers think they need to teach us "it's not about us all the time."
I have a sneaking presumption that most kids who are called "over demanding" at age 3,4 or 5 and older are really wombtwin survivors. Only nobody knows, not even the kids themselves.
Those kids are never content. They demand constant attention from an adult. They over-share, try to sit next to a teacher, overflow with talk, hord toys but still want new ones, develop intense interests in changing subjects and want to talk about them. They generally wreck their parents' and teacher's nerves and specialists will tell these parents and teachers that the child "has to learn not everything is about him/her".
Well, it isn't. It's about the twin.
Those children grew in the womb with a constant presence. Everything they experienced was shared, and there was much. The first hiccup! Can you imagine what a sensation the first hiccup is? And your twin noticed the slight disturbance in the amniotic fluid! Look at this! I'm hiccuping! Here it goes again!!!
Everything that happened happened shared.
And then this kid is born alone. Sharing is still natural but now there is nobody close enough to share things with immediately. When I was about four family legend has it that I was staying at my grandmother's and as usual would trot in her wake through the house and comment on everything I saw or heard or felt. Suddenly I stopped and exclaimed:"You have to say something, too, Oma. I don't want to do all the talking by myself."
Isn't that cute?
It isn't. It's desperate. I needed the presence of my twin to share things with effortlessly and Grandma wouldn't play the part. She'd be occupied with things SHE didn't share with ME. She had her own world - preparing lunch, most likely- and though she loved me and liked to have me with her, she didn't share her existence with me. Her breathing, her moving around, the grumbling in her stomach, her need to go to the restroom soon...
I did. I shared all these details, but then I was a four-year-old and a talkative one. My parents thought I was unusually advanced for my age and needed more challenges,
Actually I was looking for a twin substitute.
For a while I found the perfect one. A rainbow-coloured toy brush.
I took it with me everywhere, called it my "doggy" and talked to it. My parents were worried and releaved when "the phase" wore out.
In later life, whenever I attempted to find a friend, my idea of friendship was to be connected 24/7, to talk to each other every day at least once and to share everything. Thoughts, feelings and things,
Needless to say none of these attempts at finding friends ever ammounted to much. People found me weird, clingy, "overly present" and - hello, old friend! - "over demanding".
I took me decades to find out what was going wrong. I was treating them as twin substitutes.
Few non-twins can stand that.
As long as I didn't know I was a twin I was just trying to recreate my twinship unconsciously and frightening people off very effectively.
After I knew I was a twin I tried to concentrate on recreating my twinship by finding out as much about my real twin as I could. I thought the problem of twin substitutes would be solved that way.
Lately I discovered while I'm trying to recreate the good things about twinship by symbolizing my twin through names, pictures, songs and poems I'm shifting all the bad things on the poor twin subtitutes. They are the ones who abandon me. They are the ones who stop talking to me (to stop talking to a twinless twin is a powerful thing to do. When the deceased twin stopped responding in the womb, reality as I knew it crashed around and inside me). They are the ones who have to bear all the loss and the pain and the despair of my twinloss. And they don't have the faintest idea what's going on at all (see diary entry above).
I know this by now, but I still don't know how to handle it.
If a twin substitute doesn't reply to my Whatsapp, my world ends. I literally feel the ground shake beneath my feet. My existence is questioned (Yes, it IS!) and I feel a physical pain in my chest and stomach. It destroys me.
Like it destroyed my twin and thus the precursor of identity I had in the womb.
The presence of my twin is not something I long for, I want to have back or I'd feel better with, it's as necessary for my existence as the air I breath, as water and food.
But there are terribly many people in this world who have to go without as much water and food as they need. The fact that I need something doesn't mean I'll get it.
For the sake of any budding friendship I may still be granted in this life and for the sake of those poor souls I choose for twin substitutes I have to find a way to control my desperate need to share every breath with my twin (substitute), hear from him/her daily, feel the connection 24/7.
I just don't know yet how to do this.