My sister and I often joke about the fact that we just don’t know what it’s like to not be a twin, or an identical twin, for that matter.
For us, it’s always been the norm to have someone else in our lives at every moment. We grew up completely used to having another person occupying the same physical space that each of us dwelled in. We actually shared a room for all but maybe three two-month segments in high school and college.
Maybe that’s why we’ve always been a little more on the anti-social side of the spectrum. We always had someone in our lives that we could confide in - someone to share in our joys and sadnesses - so we never really felt the need to develop that kind of relationship elsewhere.
Obviously now that we are married, our husbands fill that role to a great extent. But either one of us will tell you that it’s still not the same. Because we are identical, and because we grew up in the same environment, we actually process a lot of things in the same way. That is, we know exactly what it is to feel what the other of us is feeling.
I realize that might sound a little creepy, and sometimes it kind of is. I can’t speak from experience, but I can imagine that it puts a person in a pretty vulnerable place to have another person literally know EVERYTHING about you. What you think, what you feel, how you love, how you hurt, all of it.
And it’s never really been that complicated for us. Because that’s the life that we know. Or the one that we’ve known for the vast majority of our lives.
Following college, the unspeakable happened. Heather and I no longer lived in the same space, let alone the same city. Since then, we’ve lived no closer than 4 hours away from each other. And it’s been weird. And it’s been a little discombobulating (I’m not sure if that’s how you spell that word, or if it’s even a real word, but my word processor didn’t mark it as misspelled, so I’ll just go with it…).
For a long time now, we’ve both struggled with the distance between us. The physical distance. The emotional distance is, and always will be the same - heavily overlapped. But still, we long for the convenience of the physical proximity we enjoyed for so much of our lives. To be able to spend each day with one another, to walk through the struggles of daily life with our ultimate friend by our side.
But it’s just not in the cards right now.
Over the past couple of months, my sister and I have made a lot of growth in our social lives, and I am really proud of us. As new moms (and mothers in general), life can get really hard and really disheartening really fast. I cannot tell you how much I hear about, and experience, the overwhelming depression and anxiety and loneliness that comes as a result of motherhood. I wish that it wasn’t that way, but the reality is that that is often a natural part of the package.
But what we have to realize, and something that Heather and I have recently taken to heart, is that that problem is not going to sort itself out.
We’ve had to very actively seek to surround ourselves with encouraging friendships on a regular basis. We’ve had to ask for help, in asking for others to simply be willing to spend time with us. And you know what we found? We aren’t the only ones who are looking for a little comfort and companionship…
Furthermore, fostering some of our other relationships has also been really helpful in providing perspective. The truth of the matter is that we are all struggling, and life is throwing curve balls to all of us. But that doesn’t look the same for any two of us, and there is so much we can learn from one another in that.
My dear friend Carlee recently directed me to a blog entitled “Servant Mama” that is primarily aimed at bringing encouragement to military spouses, and the burdens they face in having to be separated from their loved ones for prolonged periods of time.
My husband is currently working full time and going to school to get his paramedic certification. So I know a little bit about being alone, and quite a bit about what it’s like to lack the ability to spend as much time with your husband as you had hoped and planned when you first got married. But honestly, my struggle with that doesn’t even touch the struggle faced by a spouse whose partner is in the military, with no promise of even seeing him or her until a year or more.
But despite the fact that my situation is not the same, I have found profound comfort in the articles and posts shared by Servant Mama. And furthermore, I am incredibly grateful at the thoughtfulness of my own friend to share that blog with me, even though my sadness is truly small potatoes compared to hers.
I guess that’s my point. We’ve got to reach out to one another. We’ve got to take some initiative in building up relationships outside of our own homes, because sometimes those are the ones that we are going to have to lean on. And who knows, we may even have something to offer in return :)