I first heard this term mentioned today by someone who commented on a post I made to the ACEs Too High blog. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this site and its companion, ACEs Connection, I’d encourage you to visit. It’s a great resource for those of us trying to make sense of childhood trauma, whether it was abuse or neglect, while seeking support from kindred seekers.
Casey was a twinless twin. We were wide open with her about everything we knew, but we never told her about her twin sister who was stillborn for fear it would freak her out. We planned on telling her when she was “old enough” to handle it. At what age that might have been I can only guess.
After her death, and armed with the knowledge I gained from the experts about early childhood trauma, I spent a lot of time trying to imagine her experience of living in the womb with a kindred spirit and then being separated forever. Did her sister die in utero or at birth? Casey was born first, her sister second, dead. That’s all I know. Her therapists never followed up on this crucial bit of information. Yet when I connected with a Bay Area adoption therapist and shared this with her, I asked, “Do you think Casey knew about her twin?”
The answer was, of course, “Yes, on some level.”
Here is the comment from my post. It’s very illuminating.
Many people do not realize that the loss of a twin, even in utero or at birth, leaves the surviving twin with a profound sense of loss that is inexplicable to anyone not born of multiple birth. There is a bond that forms between twins and higher order children like triplets that is unique to children of multiple births and starts in the womb.
The tantrums, the crying jags, the defiance, a sense of isolation are all common to twinless twins, regardless of the age they lost their twins. I think that this more primal loss was the real factor in Casey’s pain and what eventually led to her death. Many twins, who lose their twins at an older age, turn to suicide because they cannot take the separation from their twin.
This is something that you may not have heard of or understood. I think it is important though, given Casey’s background.
Wow. That blew my mind.
There is even a support group for twinless twins, called Twinless Twins Support Group International. It was founded by Dr. Raymond Brandt, who lost his identical twin at the age of 20. The group exists to support and help twins who lost their twin, either through death, adoption, separation or estrangement. Their website is http://www.twinlesstwins.org.
Written by John Brooks
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