When I Found My Twin
My life's journey started in the later part of 1949 as Kevin, my twin brother and myself began to form and develop in our mother's womb. This was not a safe place for either of us but we had each other for support and company.... for a short time at least. I know this deep within my very soul even though the notion of being a twin is new to me - I only put that language on it about 4 years ago, but once I did, then my life and feelings made sense to me at last. I finally know that, in fact I am not the “mad Mary” that I was nicknamed as a child by my family. I was just different.
My mother's womb was never a safe place.... let me put that in context. My mother, God rest her, suffered a lot of loss in the years leading up to my conception and carried a lot of sadness and grief. My parent's first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage in the first trimester. A “small loss” some might say but believe me, there is no such thing as a small loss where human life is concerned. My mother's second pregnancy produced a fine baby girl, she was my parents pride and joy. She was named Ann. Then came another girl, my sister Terri. When these 2 little girls were aged 4 and 2 respectively they both contracted TB. At this time my mother was expecting her fourth child. The two year old survived but Ann died just before her fifth birthday. Never having the opportunity or the encouragement to deal with their great loss, as was the way in those days my parents carried the frozen grief of this to the grave with them.
Just three months after my sister's death, my brother Peter was born. He stayed with them for only 12 weeks before he too died. Six months later myself and my brother Kevin were conceived, this was just around the time of the first anniversary of Ann's death and so we inhabited the womb which reeked with the smell of death, loss, helplessness and extreme fear. I believe my brother Kevin couldn't hack it and died after a short time and so I was left in this “tomb” alone, feeling lost, abandoned, not knowing whether to stay or go with a huge sense of overwhelm. If I had a penny for the number of times I was told what a "cross baby" I was I certainly would be a rich woman today!
For many years, far too many, I carried my parents grief and felt responsible for their happiness, because, unlike my brother who did the decent thing and gave up his life, I had stayed. I had a debt to pay and decided very early on that the debt would be paid the day I could make my parents happy! My mother, although a fun loving person at heart, was very depressed all her life and only died earlier this year. My father, a very sensitive and gentle man, suffered from manic depression and obsessive compulsive disorder and his grief expressed itself in cancer. He died over 20 years ago. What chance had I of making them happy?
After my father's death I finally realised that my life's goal of making my parents happy was unachievable and I had a breakdown which brought me into many years of psychotherapy. After some very difficult years, life began to change for me and I felt a lightness and freedom I hadn't experienced up to then. Eventually I decided to train in the field of psychotherapy and it was during this time that I even learned to play! The world was a much safer for me but I still often escaped into a very dark place, a place that not only existed deep within me but at the same time a place that was very far away, always just beyond the furthest point, a familiar place that offered some comfort in a strange sort of way; a place where I would strain to see the invisible and concentrate on hearing the silence. This place was my refuge when I felt I didn't belong as I so often did, or when I felt that the world was too much or that people were too close, or when I panicked because I couldn't breathe because the air seemed poisoned. Over the years I learned to manage these episodes quite well and could postpone them at will until an appropriate time presented itself when I could disappear in order to rediscover myself!
And so, only about 4 years ago I found myself in a situation where it seemed appropriate to share this dark place at a Family Tree Healing mass In Kilmore Quay, Ireland. There was nobody in the room more surprised than myself when I did so. For me this was the real turning point and it was then that I was introduced to my twin brother Kevin for the first time even though he was the most important person in my life from day one! When Fr. Jim, very gently wondered with me if I might be a twin, without any hesitation I just knew it was the truth. I knew without doubt that my twin was a boy and his name just popped out of my mouth. Now for the first time, despite years of psychotherapy, work that has meant a huge amount to me and work that I greatly value, but now for the first time I really understood my inner world.
The healing journey has not been an easy one - as I cut the ties with my 4 siblings who died before me, I found myself drawn towards dealing with many unresolved issues in my family tree going back several generations. The sensitivity which is part and parcel of the womb twin survivor's experience served to act as a hook, linking me psychically with past generations. There was a lot of work that needed to be done on my family tree and this is work not for the faint hearted. It takes time and commitment in order to uncover and tell the story but the journey is well worth while and the reward is a sense of inner freedom and peace never known before, not just for the one undertaking the work but the ripple effects go out and the whole family system is changed.
Since writing this story I have now discovered that I am not just a twin but a triplet. I now know that I also had an identical sister who was lost very early on in the pregnancy, even earlier than Kevin. I have called her 'Little Mary'. I had an inkling about this for some time now but wouldn't let myself believe it to be true - it just seemed too much! After the recent workshop in Dublin, Althea wondered with me if this was the case and left it impossible for me to deny it any longer. I have since had this confirmed by a kinesiologist.