What is life like as a twin? It’s a question I am asked nearly everytime someone finds out I’m a twin, and let me tell you, it's not a simple question to answer.
We were born in Hong Kong, but lived our entire lives in Australia. It’s a norm for me as I don’t have other siblings, so since the day I was born, I’ve only known life with someone who looks just like me. Funny enough, since we were raised the same way and taught the same things, he thinks just like me. Having a constant companion, a best friend, surely can’t be a bad thing, or can it?
Most kids grow up making friends of their own, as that’s what kids do. If they want someone to socialize or play with, they need to make friends, since siblings are often a few years apart and doing what is more appropriate for their age isn’t always the same thing. In my case, my best friend was already there, every hour of every day.
At the time, I thought it was fantastic! In retrospect, I feel it stunted my ability to exercise what little extrovert I have in me. The truth is, it probably had more of an affect on my twin brother than myself, as he was generally more introverted and shy in comparison. Like most things that you experience in early life, these tend to shape you in the future. I can’t say it's true for all twins as I have known twins who are both extremely social, but this was definitely not the case for me.
The one question I’m always asked, “Do you feel pain when your brother is hurt?” My simple answer is “Yes! Usually when my face is hurting, so is his fist!”
Having a twin is like a double-edged sword. The sibling relationship is more extreme on both sides. The highs are higher and the lows are lower. The high: having a built-in best friend and companion. The low: falling into a trap of comfortability and not putting myself into socially-challenging situations as a result.
Moving forward a few years to adulthood, and the double-edged sword of ‘twinning’ strikes again. When you spend your whole early life with someone who has shared all the same experiences as you, it's reasonable to expect that they know you better than just about anyone. That level of familiarity is wonderful when your twin knows from just a look, or the most subtle change in body language or tone of voice that something isn’t right.
The feeling is as though my twin brother is an extension of myself. Whatever is hurting him is also hurting me, and vice versa.
Twins are, for the most part, emotionally in tune with one another and when one senses something is wrong, there is an immediate protective instinct that kicks into gear. As a parent, I can say it is very different to the protective instinct you would feel for your child. It’s almost a feeling of self-preservation more than the need to protect someone else.
I wish I could find a better way to describe it but the feeling is as though my twin brother is an extension of myself. Whatever is hurting him is also hurting me, and vice versa. It’s an incredible connection that gives a constant feeling of security, knowing there is always someone there to be your support--and who will go to the ends of the earth for you out of a sense of self preservation? But what’s the flip side to that?
Of course there has to be a balance of sorts. Someone who is so in tune with you, who can sense the slightest negative emotion in you and would do anything to help you also knows every way to push your buttons when they feel the need. They know every secret, every trigger, and what’s worse is, they even think along the same line of thought as you. It’s like arguing with a mirror!
The relationship that I share with my brother is one that has found its balance over time. We are now 42, and I can honestly say that it has taken the best part of 30 years for us to find that balance. What do I mean by balance? I mean the point at which we are able to take all of the positives and negatives of being twins, in our case at least, and move in from the extremes. Still enjoying the positives of our connection but without using the knowledge and exploiting it.
Twins are, for the most part, emotionally in tune with one another and when one senses something is wrong, there is an immediate protective instinct that kicks into gear.
Living somewhat separate lives--Greg has done some amateur fights and remains undefeated, while I am in hospitality management--experiencing different things, socialising in different circles has taught the both of us to appreciate the other, and not take the other for granted.
Is it easy having a twin sibling? Yes and no. My point is that like most things in life, it has its positives and negatives. They don’t outweigh one another. They balance each other out IF and WHEN you can find that balance point, and finding that balance point is the key in my case.
The one question I’m always asked, “Do you feel pain when your brother is hurt?” My simple answer is “Yes! Usually when my face is hurting, so is his fist!” Thankfully, I can say that those days are well behind us, now that we have found our balance point.
Story of Brad Turvey on his twin brother, Greg. Brad lives with his son in Australia