by Jeanene Harlick | August 30, 2014 2:54 am
But my twin is not proud of me. Even when I was a functional person and journalist writing about important issues, trying in my small way to bring a tiny bit of social justice to this world. She never told me I was a good writer or complimented me on a story or acknowledged I have anything to offer, when it comes to writing. I know I should be able to find that kind of belief inside myself, and from the numerous remarks to that effect from others – but, while all that helps — unfortunately, if my very own twin sister can’t say it, I don’t know if I’ll ever believe it.
My sister was promoted to oversee early learning initiatives for our county office of education, and forwarded an email from one of their head honchos lauding her more than 15 years’ of work improving the lives of impoverished families and children in our county. I have never, ever, ceased being proud of the work my sister does to help kids in true need, and I’ve told her that, and bragged about her to others.
She’s certainly never bragged about me. She’s embarrassed of me.
I couldn’t be happier or have more respect for the fact that my sister chose a career that helps those in need. YET I AM IN NEED TOO.
But my twin sister has no time for my needs. She hasn’t taken the time to read or comment on any of the writing I’ve published over the past several months, including the op-ed I recently got published in the SF Bay Guardian. This was a huge thing for me even if it seems like a minor feat to most – a small yet coveted accomplishment for a former journalist whose career is now dead. And, as noted, my twin has not once visited this site since it was launched or commented about how I managed to craft the look and structure of it by rapidly learning how to master – after many arduous hours – Web technology I have been heretofore completely incompetent at.
Apparently, she cares nothing whatsoever about how much pain this has caused me: her failure to even once visit or acknowledge this site.
When I read my sister’s email a couple hours ago I experienced a lot of conflicting emotions: pride and happiness over her promotion and her hard work to help others — work done while simultaneously being a wonderful, completely devoted mother to her two young, high-energy children. I was also happy that she let at least a few people know about her accomplishment, because she rarely shares her laudable achievements with others.
But I also experienced pain that she wants me to acknowledge her hard work while she fails to take 30 seconds out of her day to ever acknowledge mine. I know my sister is busy and overwhelmed with life and simply doesn’t have time for me, but I don’t know how to accept where that leaves me.
I also felt, after reading the note singing my sister’s praise, why do I even try anymore, or pretend to think, that I make a difference? Why do I keep living, or “publishing” these stupid “articles” that nobody except close family and friends, read and which make no difference in the lives of others, as my sister’s work does.
My best guess is that my twin sees my new Web site as a joke, another pathetic effort to make meaning out of a meaningless life.
To my twin, I am not a twin, much less a sister. I am merely a burden she needs to attend to from time to time because I’m “family.” We have no relationship to speak of. She lives less than a mile from me but has not once visited me in the five years since I moved back to California, nor once has she been able to find time to simply share coffee or a similar activity for a half hour out of her day. She does have time, however, to visit the gym every week to get in her spinning classes.
I’ve visited her house countless times, to see my niece, nephew and brother-in-law, as well as her – even though I know attempting to get into any conversation of depth with her while I’m there is pointless.
I have somewhat of a relationship with my niece and nephew, and my “twin’s” husband, who is wonderful and loving and tries to respond to me, when he can, amid a similarly busy life. But my sister never replies, never reads anything I write, never acknowledges my fruitless efforts to try and make purpose out of my increasingly purposelessness life. And now, she expects ME to acknowledge her hard work, when she fails to acknowledge mine? I want to and I don’t want to.
I don’t know what to do.
Yes, I know my “online magazine” is a joke, probably not taken seriously by anybody, and that those who do make nice comments about it are probably just humoring me. I know this because they don’t tell their friends about my site, or post the link on Facebook, or Tweet it, or whatever… Why do I keep trying to “count” in this world when I obviously don’t? My stupid efforts to try and find meaning in my life, to stave off the constant impulse to take my life — all my efforts are a pathetic joke. They are not taken seriously by anybody. My sister spends her days making a difference and raising beautiful children. I spend my days often wasting hours on stupid, OCD-ish activities, as well as constantly trying to figure out how to survive on a subsistence-level budget that wreaks constant stress.
I will die alone, with no children, never having been loved by anybody not related to me by blood. I’ll leave nothing behind. My life is a blip. All I ever wanted was to make a difference in this world, have family, children, and my “twin” sister. But I have none of those things.
I wish my sister understood the pain I experience daily that I no longer have a twin. when I read her email tonight a relatively stable month, mental health-wise, dissolved, and all the suicidal impulses returned. I know they’ll pass, but they’re painful and awful and unwelcome.
My sister and I shared a fu–ing womb for Christ’s sake. How do you ever get over that primordial bond? There must be some kind of psychological umbilical cord which links us together as long as we’re alive, right? I guess she can mend that severing because she has her husband and her children now to stitch to the other half. But I don’t.
I’m having a hard night. Hopefully I’ll wake up tomorrow and start again, and delude myself into thinking, as I constantly try to, that “things will get better, eventually.” Even though they never do…
Most people don’t understand what it’s like to lose a twin and I wish they did. The same people who tell me to “just write for myself” tell me to “let the twin thing go,” accept things as they are. And I try to, I really do, but I just can’t. There’s some bond embedded deep in my subconscious that has been permanently broken and that I will never stop grieving. I know it has to do with “attachment theory” and related psychological dynamics, but that knowledge has never helped me feel any better.
None of the many therapists or treatment centers I’ve been to over the years have ever done their homework on the complexities of twin psychology. I was recently lucky enough to discover the work of Dr. Barabara Klein, a twin herself who works with twins and has written two books to guide therapists in the unique issues one must consider when working with such a client. In the forward to her book, “Alone in the Mirror,” Dr. Jacqueline Martinez writes, “An understanding of the realities of twinship is essential for success any time one is working with a twin… In the worst-case scenario, the therapist’s lack of awareness of how poignant these attachment and developmental issues are for twins leads to perpetuation of the very dynamic the twin-patient is attempting to heal from and move beyond.”
I find it utterly perplexing that no professional or treatment center I’ve ever been to has attempted to do background reading on the types of issues I struggle with as a twin. I know I can’t blame anybody – including my sister – for my problems or for what I’ve done to my life, but maybe if those professionals had taken just a little bit of time to do their homework, I’d be feeling a little less pain tonight.
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