“Oh! You’re one of the twins, right?”
“Are you Becca or ‘the other one’?”
“My name is Kayla.”
“Oh, well then never mind then, seeya later!”
I cannot put a number to how many conversations have started—and ended—like this. My sister and I are fraternal twins—who happen look similar—not identical.
With that said, we look a lot alike. This has had many adverse effects growing up. My mom used to dress us alike. If one got lost, she could hold the other one up and say, “Find me another one of these!” Fortunately, that never happened.
When we were toddlers, my mom took us to a playground, dressed alike. We were running circles around the play set. Another mother, sitting near my mom exclaimed, “Wow! That little girl sure can run fast!” My mom responded by calling to us, “Girls, come here!” Needless to say when we both showed up the other mother felt foolish.
We struggled to comprehend our individuality for a long time. Singular nouns were a foreign language to us. Nothing was ever just mine. I shared everything with Becca: our mom, dad, grandma, house, room. Calling something mine seemed like a lie. It felt like a half truth.
In an effort to break this habit, the word “twin” was treated like a curse word in our household. This is a concept easily picked up by young children.
Being a twin appeared to be a luxury for many years. We would spread our wings, but when we were put in new, uncomfortable situations, we were able to lean on each other for support. Such as changing schools three different time.
Our third grade music teacher made the unfortunate mistake of calling my sister “Becky,” which she detested. Becca argued for her sense of self. I understood the frustration, we have our names just like every other student, and that’s how we wanted to be addressed. Eventually, I had enough of the situation and from across the room yelled, “Her name is NOT ‘Becky’ her name is ‘Becca’ and you will call her that.” A fellow student made a remark about “the twins.” This began a whole other rant about us being two individual students—just like everyone else—and we will not tolerate being addressed as a singular entity.
Similar instances had a tendency of happening at least once every time we transferred schools. My mom began giving us the talk that yes, we are individuals, but sometimes it is easier for people to address us as “the twins.” It doesn’t mean they think we are the same person.
Being twins, we were instantly “cool.” Everyone wanted to talk to us. They wanted to know all about our relationship.
For as long as I can remember, I have had social anxiety. Meeting new people with Becca allowed me to focus on her. It was like we were putting on a show for people about who we are. These people—these strangers—were learning about me and I didn’t even have to acknowledge their presence.
Over time, this progressed to Becca doing all the talking. I only need to stand there and smile—her conversation-starting arm candy. Becca grew confident with socialization. Thus grew her desire to make new friends—without me. I did not feel the need or desire to make friends, however I believe this is a root in my depression. She made friends with a “popular” crowd and I became a last resort to her.
When we transferred schools in the eighth grade, she made a new best friend. This girl shared a birthday with us, looked similar to us, and happened to have lost her twin at birth. Becca decided that this girl was her real twin—not me. I had been replaced, by the one person I thought I could always rely on.
I was abandoned.
I was alone.
Eventually, they had a falling out, and she came back to me—until she found a new best friend.
This created a cycle that continued our entire high school lives. I can see it continuing even now. I don’t believe it will ever stop.
Even so, my sister and I maintain our special bond. Our entire lives, we held hands—my left to her right. Since the day we turned eighteen, this bond has been represented by “Jumelle” (French for twin) tattooed on our arms. Hers on her right arm, mine on my left. She is left handed, I am right handed. These tattoos symbolize the strong whole we present, the weaknesses we protect within each other.
Once we began dating, a whole other trend became apparent.
Eighth Grade. Becca dated her love interest, I dated his best friend. She was thrilled; I was apathetic.
Both relationships ended within three months.
Freshman year. Becca dated a boy. They broke up. He started pursuing me then stopped once he knew me better.
Sophomore year. Becca dated her love interest, she encouraged me to pursue his best friend. Becca and her boyfriend broke up. His best friend began talking to her. I was forgotten.
Junior Year. My first ex dated Becca.
Guys want a Becca. When they couldn’t have the real thing, they assumed I would make a good substitute. When they found out we are completely different, they moved on.
Friendships or lack thereof, had the same trend. I did not have many friends my first two years of high school. The ones I did have, crossed the line between a joke and bullying.
Becca stood up for me.
I lost my friends.
Becca left me.
I was alone.
My last two years, I had casual conversations with many people. These only developed into acquaintanceships. Often times the person would say, “If I would have known you weren’t like your sister, I would have talked to you sooner.”
Becca’s friendships burnt out quicker than a roman candle. They would be together constantly. They came to me when they got irritated with Becca. They never understood they were walking a mile in my shoes. Eventually, either she or they would move on. I would pick up the pieces for whoever was in the dust—only to be left in the dust myself.
This is the cycle.
There is one effect of twinship I believe is not a result of being twins, but rather from people being lazy. I will never respond to, “twin,” or “the twin.” Take the time to learn my name. Take the time to learn my sister’s name. Take the time to tell the difference. My twinship, or anyone else’s, is not an excuse to get lazy with people skills.
We waitressed together the summer before college. We both returned home and occasionally picked up shifts. One of the new employees had worked with me, but never my sister. He made the poor decision to address me as, “hey twin…” to which I politely, yet sternly replied, “My name is Kayla.” He repeated his question like he didn’t hear me. Again I reminded him, “My name is Kayla. Rebecca is not here today, so you shouldn’t have any confusion.”
He asked his question, once more, preceded by, “hey twin,” to which again, I insisted, “You can call me Kayla,” then walked away without helping. In places of our shared past, I will never have my own identity.
Physical distance as allowed me to distance my mentality. I see our relationship as it was; I anticipate where it is going.
I am a twin, I am not my sister. We share our past; we decide our futures. We are a unit—divided by distance, divided by disposition. She has her life, I have my life. Becca has made me who I am.