It’s not easy to hear your daughter declare that she hates her sister, and even more unsettling when she’s talking about her twin, the one she is bonded to more closely than anyone else in the family.
Recently I’ve heard this statement more and more often from both girls, especially because they share identical interests: they are studying the same course (Circus Arts) and are literally in the same class, and they’re sharing a house together, and a circle of friends. They are literally living in each other’s pockets and the intimacy is driving them up the wall.
Being familiar with the principles I live by, they know they are each other’s mirror and are plugged in by their own reflections, but it still seems like a much worse trait when carried out by ‘the other’. (And it’s very easy to say ‘I know I’m that too’ without really looking and owning the trait and finding how it serves.)
I remember a series of clashes a few years ago when one was envious of the other’s achievements and friends. In a moment of brilliance, I said, ‘You do realise that if you want independence from each other you’ll have to accept it on the positive and negative sides of the scale? You’ll have to accept times when she out-shines you, just as there will be times when you outshine her. It’s either individuality with all its pros and cons or being locked in step as a unit without any differentiation.”
One particular experience stands out in my mind. They were going for their driving test, and ‘older’ twin failed while ‘younger’ twin passed. Oh my goodness. The drama, the depression, the tears! This was a terrible situation for both of them: the one who had passed couldn’t properly celebrate because she felt awful for her sister, and the one who had failed couldn’t properly congratulate her because she felt so envious and upset and embarrassed.
Feeling too close to all of this myself, I referred the twin who had failed to a Demartini practitioner and went on with my life. On the day of the appointment I sent her a text asking how the session had gone. She texted back: ‘I just put failing my license test into my ‘Good Things of 2013’ Jar’.
Wow. I was surprised and delighted. Later she shared with me the list of benefits they had generated, things like:
- an opportunity to develop strength, resilience, persistence and patience;
- an opportunity to simply grow;
- an opportunity for self-knowledge and greater understanding of her own emotions;
- an opportunity for acceptance of their individuality and allowance of each one having unique experiences;
- an opportunity to learn how to deal with her nerves and anxiety;
- an opportunity to know she could survive failure and disappointment, and could pick herself up when she fell;
- an opportunity to ask for help and comfort and receive it;
- an opportunity to understand about the power of the mind and universal dynamics.
Impressive, huh? The icing on the cake was that after failing the driving test she had been told that there were no more openings for re-tests for at least two weeks – that meant two weeks of needing me to supervise her driving while her younger sister was free to scoot off anywhere she wanted at any time, independently! Well, in the wake of this transformational session, my daughter called the License Testing body and was told several new openings had come available in just three days time. She booked in and passed the test easily.
That’s only one story. Last night they came to visit and sat at the table glowering at each other about how frustrating it was living together. “She never cleans up after herself!” “She’s always bitchy!” “She has d-and-m’s with our housemate and doesn’t include me!” “She doesn’t help!” “She’s so cranky!” Etc. etc.
They knew this was coming: I gave them each a sheet of paper and told them to write a list of traits they liked and a list of traits they didn’t like about each other – two columns. But they weren’t allowed to leave (for a movie night at one boyfriend’s house) until the two columns matched up; they had to finish with an equal number of likes and dislikes.
The disliked traits poured out of one twin’s pen in a gush; the other, whose boyfriend they were visiting, was more cautious. She was determined to leave on time, so she made sure that her list grew in a fairly balanced way. But when they’d finished and read them to me, I was, again, impressed by their honesty and willingness to grow.
My last word before they left was to suggest that they take some time to sit with the positive side of the list and truly, in their hearts, acknowledge the value to them of traits they had dashed down quickly like, “keeps me balanced”, “tells me what I need to hear”, “can be myself around her”, “willing to work on it”, “looks after me”, “someone to compete with me and push me”, “caring”, “honest”, “generous”…
And next time they visit we’ll find the benefits of the ‘disliked’ list, where we’ll unpack those maligned traits and find the gifts lurking within. I’m looking forward to that! (Note to self: provide chocolate…)