Identical twins often struggle to maintain their own separate identities while acknowledging that to the world they are viewed as part of a “matched set”. Often their parents dress them alike and are proud that no one can tell which child is which. The “look-alike" appearance draws attention to the twins and also to themselves. But does it harm the children?
In my opinion, the answer is not always, but it can.
In our own lives we constantly seek to improve and validate our own identity. Imagine what it must be like to always be compared to your sibling and to have none of your friends or the adults in your life, know who you really are.
In Despicable Lies, Fred Coulter (The girl's father) has these feelings and thoughts about his own beautiful twin girls. “Fred Coulter thought of his girls as one entity, and when one did something right or wrong, he praised (or blamed) the other equally. He had a hard time isolating his feelings for either of them.” Page 129
“The laughter in the air and the festive mood of everyone that night brought back wonderful, poignant memories to him of when the twins were just little girls, constantly playing pranks and switching places with each other. He would deny it, if asked, but he still couldn't tell the girls apart. Now he looked for the one wearing the beautiful diamond ring and knew that she was Darcy.” Page 253
In Despicable Lies, Darcy, and especially Danielle, have serious identity struggles which manifest in different ways. Danielle, like many twins, tries to keep up with and out-do her sister...to be a better cook, a better writer, a better person. When she fails, at least in her own eyes, she feels resentment and bitterness. In the book, Danielle's feelings of being subordinate to Darcy lead her to undergo psychiatric treatment and eventually she realizes that she is a good person in her own right, worthwhile and to be valued. However, before she came to this epiphany, which her doctor's help, she had lied and contrived to manipulate situations to make herself look good and her sister bad.
After her psychiatric sessions:
“Danielle had come to appreciate the differences she had with her twin, rather than focus on their similarities. Her life going forward would not be a lifelong contest to be better than her sister in everything. She was different. And that was fine. Danielle knew who she was not, and she was at last comfortable with the knowledge." Page 186
For some reason, I am fascinated by twins and keep adding them as central characters in my books. In my latest novel, Trapped, four-year-old twin brothers, Mark and Max Bennett, are essential to the storyline and their predicament moves the plot along to the exciting conclusion.
I am not a twin myself, but I do have a wonderful sister and I am very close to her. We look quite a bit alike. When we are together people often stare, and then ask if we are twins. We got so tired of it that we had tee shirts made and wear them periodically when we're together. They say, "No we are not twins!"
Twins maintaining their own individuality and yet living as part of “we” must be a very difficult line to walk and yet enormously rewarding at the same time. To all the sets of twins everywhere who have successfully achieved the proper balance, congratulations. I'm sure Darcy and Danielle, and Mark and Max would be proud of you.
Until my next inspiration...ciao.