A Meeting Place for Early loss twins

This is really my twin's Enjy's place, not mine. S/He does not have any other place in this world. S/He was miscarried at age four months in the womb. We were twins and made to be together for years and we were torn apart within seconds. This is the place where I go to talk to him/her and about him/her. Anyone who has lost a twin in utero or very early is very welcome here to read and share.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

The chasm inside or Don’t feed the beast! – how Early Loss Twins face an inward predator

 Memories can be a raging beast inside. They creep up on us, pounce and strike when we are unaware. They take a smell, a sound, a flash back and tear at our souls with their claws. Twinless Twins can tell tales of encountering the beast when somebody calls them by their twin’s name or when they come back to a place they visited together.

But not having memories is a killer beast.

We don’t notice it at first. As Early Loss Twins we revel in creating memories about our twins who were lost so young no pictures of them could ever be taken. Sometimes there are a few of two babies together or a blurry ultrasound, but especially for those of us who were born in the 1970s or earlier, or whose mothers weren’t expecting twins, there is nothing. Simply, devastatingly nothing.

If the twin was lost in utero or stillborn, most countries will not even provide a birth certificate, let alone a grave. Some of us go to great lengths to find the place their twins were buried, some even succeed in putting up a marker, a small stone or a plaque, but never without much inquiry, struggle and some money. It takes a lot of effort to embark on this journey and sometimes it leads to a, literally, dead end. The early lost twin is extinct to all but the survivor. Like he or she never existed.
This is not bearable. We feel our twins in every cell of our bodies. We grew with them alongside and their existence is part of our every fibre. We KNOW them. We can feel them. Their existence is part of our existence.

But then there are all those other – our parents, who never held them, counselors who, well-meaningly, say: don’t burden yourself with the past!, doctors who from their high seat of scientific lore say: it’s doubtful such an early loss would ever affect you. And it all sums up to the verdict: you’re just making this up! Your twin possibly never existed, was too small to ever be felt by you, their death never affected you. 

I’ve had all those things said to me and I stood alone. Most of us stand alone. Nobody comes to our defense, because nobody was there, when we were together, and nobody witnessed our loss.

So we start to build memories. We create pictures. We collect symbols. We write letters, give our twins names they never were given by their parents, give them the live they – crimson well – should have had. The loss we suffered so very early, when we still in the making, makes a bottomless chasm inside us. We were built around that chasm, it’s at the very centre of our being, of our souls.
We try to fill it. With pictures, symbols and words. But the beast inside us is hungry, it demands more. It’s not just a chasm, it’s an ancient deity demanding offerings. And the more we bring, the more it craves. 

We hope for the one image, the one symbol that will sum it up for us and bring closure. We think if we only find one thing – a picture, a birth certificate, a quote by a relative who remembers our mothers talking about her expected twins – we may find peace, the beast will be satisfied, the chasm filled. We hope and work and strife and testify and cry, and it’s never enough. Each time we make a testimony for our twins, speak their names, acknowledge their brief existence to the uncaring world, paint for them, choose a song for them, shout out for them, there’s a short repriese, a fleeting sense of peace…
… and then the beast roars up again “BUT MAYBE IT’S ALL IN YOUR IMAGINATION”, and we scramble for another token of proof and assuagement, and it’s never enough.

When we meet Late Loss Twins, it can become even worse. We unconsciously try to compete with them or to at least keep up. We feel the need to prove our twinship, yes, we do! We want to hear their confirmation: you’re one of us. We pull our feelings, our grief, our love, they connect us to those “real” twins. We try to become more like them, copy their sentiments, model our twinship according to theirs. Yes, we do.
It’s not wrong to do so, it’s normal. But it’s neither necessary nor will it satisfy the beast.

The only thing that really scares the beast inside is hard facts. They are like stones we can throw in its face, but they don’t always feel pleasant to the touch.
Here are some: I do NOT have conscious memories of my twin. We did NOT have discussions in the womb and called each other nicknames.
I do NOT love my twin as a person, we never were persons together.
I do NOT have memories, pictures or keepsakes of my twin.
I do NOT grieve my twin like I would a person I met outside the womb.
I do NOT miss my twin in the sense that I miss seeing their faces or hearing their voices.

I DO have unconscious memories of my twin which run deeper than any conscious ones ever can, and because they are the only ones I have, they are much more powerful than conscious memories. They are part of my very existence.

I DO love my twin in a sense too intimate the much worn out word “love” can’t even begin to cover it. If “love” in the common sense means the need to feel a person close by, my love for my twin is the need to feel that person inside myself, within the boundaries life outside the womb normally sets to humans. My twin is not only closer to me than any other human being, he/she is part of me. Literally.

I DO have keepsakes of my twin, but they are not always things I would want to put on display. Sudden inexplicable panic reactions when I catch my sleeve may send me back to the moment my twin died and the sudden dip in blood pressure tugged at my umbilical cord. Or an upsurging need to feel a physical presence combines with a feeling of resentment to actual touch – that’s my twin’s legacy of being so close and then being gone. Or the equally sudden feeling of a presence, an unexpected warmth (not the menopause kind!), a wave of feeling connected to someone, and when I look up nobody is there – these are the keepsakes. Immaterial but not unreal, but never to be put on shelves for the world to see.

I DO grieve my twin with all my heart and soul and body, but not in the ways of other twins who are reminded of their loss in that piercing way of waking up in the morning and only after a split second remembering it. My loss is that bottomless chasm in everything. My twin’s loss doesn’t show up in activities no longer shared, places no longer went to, understanding no longer experienced, phone calls no longer made, glances no longer exchanged. Rather it tinges everything. My crying for my twin is not done in waves building up inside, but like the constant lapping of a lake’s seemingly still waters, eating away the safety of a shore…

I DO miss my twin in the sense that I will never feel complete on my own. Actually, I never knew what it feels like to feel complete. I miss my twin not like an arm or a leg, but like a part of my very existence.

These hard facts can, if they won’t satisfy the beast, put it on leash. Present it with the truth! I will NEVER have what other twins had (actually, I envy them the time spent with their twins in life outside the womb, but at least one thing I do not envy them: the heartsplitting moment when they learned of their twin’s death). I will never be like them, but that doesn’t make me any less a twin.
To be an Early Loss Twin is a way of being a twin just as legitimate as being identical or fraternal or conjoined. All these present twinship differently. Early loss, being an in-utero twin, is just a different experience, not a deficient one.

To stop feeding the beast is an important step of healing. Because as long as we try to fill its gaping maw, we let it control our thoughts and feelings about our twins. Because it will always command us “you’re not doing enough! You’re not grieving enough! You’re not loving enough! You’re not enough of a TWIN!” and we will cater to its craving instead of cater to our twinship.

I promise you, fellow Early Loss Twins, once you stop trying to fill this chasm inside, to feed this beast, your twinship will NOT go away and diminish. It will become stronger in what it really is: a precious, a wonderful, a unique way of twinship.
Remember: you can’t lose what is part of your very being. Once conceived a twin, being a twin when your first cells split and your every synapses were formed, you’re always, always a twin, until your cells disintegrate and our souls will be back together.

P.S. And yes, I wouldn’t have believed this, either, ten years ago. But, please, give it a thought.

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