Wednesday, September 07, 2011

MZ womb twin survivors - towards building a separate Alpha identity

When both twins make it to birth alive, it is common for there to be one obviously dominant twin, but that applies from the earliest beginnings, as this mother wrote:
We have ultrasound pix of Baby A (Shane) kicking Baby B (Dylan) in the head. Dylan spent most of his time in the womb trying to swim away. They are now 16 mos (adjusted age). Not much has changed. Whatever Dylan is playing with, Shane immediately takes away. Fortunately, Dylan is very easy-going and will usually just transfer his attention to another toy, but that soon gets taken away too. Another thing – Shane follows Dylan around, pointing to him and trying to say his name (“dee-uh”). It was cute in the beginning, but now he’s either poking him in the eye or smacking him on the head when he does it. And most recently Shane has been running up behind his brother and pushing him down for no reason. And, heaven forbid I pick up and snuggle his brother...suddenly Shane is crying and pulling on my leg. 
But what is it like for the  dominant twin to be born alone?  What happens to that Alpha energy when it has no expression within the twin pair?

Its like some part of you must keep your  Beta twin alive, but that means you can't be your own authentic self.

This is the story of how I began to create my own identity by letting go of my twin. I lived for 55 years locked into my own Beta identity as "Tish". One day I knew it was time to make a funeral for my twin

I carried out the funeral in a ritual workshop with Claire Schrader, a drama therapist working in London [and who will be  leading a drama therapy workshop at  this year's Womb Twin conference on November 19th. ]

It started with the insight that I may have once been a twin, and that was why so many tiny details about my life that had always puzzled me were always on my mind. I was very concerned with the life of the unborn child, thought a lot about death and dying and was never happier than when I was with one other person engaged in deep intense conversation at an empathetic level. 
I came to Claire over the Internet because I knew that talking therapies could not access the areas of my life that were pre-verbal, and indeed pre-birth. A drama approach it had to be. And it proved to be very helpful. I was able to re-experience being small, being angry and very powerful in my anger, and finally after much planning to create a special ritual about my lost twin. This was not at the end of the course but in the middle of it, for after this ritual I had some important growing and healing activities to engage in. However there has never been a more intensely emotional, cathartic and cleansing experience in my whole life than that day, which I will describe for you in detail now. 
I was unwell, and unable to function normally for some days, as I planned this ritual. I lay in bed thinking and planning every detail until I had it clear in my mind. For two weeks before the day I wore every day round my neck a chiffon turquoise scarf that I loved and had bought for myself. (Turquoise for me is the colour of dreams.) It felt warm and cosy around my neck and I began to develop a strong attachment to it. I also took up a wide indian cotton scarf, much larger and plain beige and made that ready. I made some white card labels with ideas, strength, dreams and creativity written on them, to hang about the necks of the other group members. I thought for a long time about music, until I realised (with some laughter) that my favourite piece of music was part of the Bach Double Violin concerto! I found a blindfold that I had once been given on a plane trip. I found a shallow meat tin and some matches. I was ready.
When it was time, (and the waiting was hard) I knew that this was a ritual I would do alone. I did involve the other group members a little, but it was a very personal experience. The group respected this. 
I began with a “womb” shape on the floor made with cloth, in which I sat, barefoot and blindfolded with the two scarves. One of the group members was nominated by the group silently to touch me gently from time to time. There I was in the darkness of the womb with the tiny companion I knew only by touch. The strains of the violin concerto played as I reacted with great pleasure to the touches made by my little “companion.” 
Then the group had percussion instruments and they made a terrible noise with them at an unexpected moment. This was the catastrophe that took my twin away. I reached out, taking control, and touched them one by one to make them quiet. They played on until they were touched. This was to heal within me a certain sense of helplessness that had haunted me all my life. 
In the silence the violin concerto played on. 
I stepped out of the womb and took off the blindfold. I put the labels on the rest of the group, to represent the gifts that my little companion had left me, but it didn’t work very well. I had to do this alone. So to the strains of the music I danced a dance of two scarves, intertwining them and playing with them, brushing them about my body. 
Finally as the music faded to silence I came to the meat tin I had placed on the floor. There was a picture that I had painted the previous day of Kali, representing my own negative anger, vengefulness and destructive power. I tore the picture into pieces but kissed every piece, forgiving and accepting all the negative qualities. I laid the pieces with reverence and care into the meat tin, and folded the scarf on top of it ready for cremation. It was forbidden to light a fire in the room so we left the room in procession with me barefoot, carrying the tin. Outside we watched the paper and the scarf burn in silence. 
I left the ashes outside as we returned to the room in silence and when it was time to go I tipped them into the dustbin: they held no power for me now. 
I got home somehow, stunned by this experience and knew then what I must do as a final act of letting go. In a cleansing ritual in my own home, I gathered up the piles of papers I had accumulated in the previous twenty years about the unborn child, and put then into a black sack for recycling. 
After over fifty years, I have found peace, and also my life’s work. I am building a web site to reach out to other womb twins throughout the world, so that they may experience the same peace that I now have.


  1. Your funeral ceremony for Tish sounds very beautiful and moving, and indeed I have tears welling up as I write this. But in your book "A Silent Cry" you write about your lost twin, Ben. Were you actually triplets?

  2. Ah ha! - well spotted, Sherlock! Yes it does get a bit complicated... I don't usually go there, as it confused people, but I wanted to describe a funeral today and I've never described this one in detail here before. Tish was my identical half, lost very early, who never got properly off the ground, but Ben was the biggest thing in my life. He was my fraternal twin, who was with me for about 14 weeks until a sudden miscarriage (probably an abortion attempt) took him away. Furthermore he was the Alpha twin and I'm the Beta - so I'm probably a very bad example for this particular blog post!!! It's taken years to sort my head out about this, but the result is this whole project, so maybe that's not such a bad thing!