Dr. Martha Tara Lee reflects on the story regarding misplaced twins and how it relates to identity.
Over the weekend, I came across a fascinating story of two pairs of twins, where one of each twin went home with the wrong family after birth.
I found myself drawn into the story ... and it was one long article!
I noticed myself tearing up at this part:
" ... Even still, William felt that his mother should have found a way, been resourceful, fought with everything she had. He would have fought for it himself, but at 12, what could he have done?
As he wept on the bench, he was experiencing the first wash of feelings that he would be able to articulate only in time—his sense of his mother’s guilt and worry. The lost opportunity to grow up going to school in Bogotá, instead of working in the fields, hauling crops. His grief over how different he had always felt from the rest of his family, a family who loved him but nonetheless teased him for not quite fitting in. Brian, stunned, sitting beside him on the bench, did not know what to say."
I was so caught up in it all that I went on to watch a televised report on the same as well.
I could not get over how these men must have been feeling growing up, and how their destines were affected.
Eventually I asked myself: Why am I being so affected by their story?
Amazing ... this was the answer that came up!
I identified with William's sense of displacement.
Growing up, I often felt that I was born into the wrong family. I had parents who didn't seem to understand me. I was so different from all the other kids around me. I was loud, expressive and pushy, when quiet and well-behaved kids would always be the ones who were fawned over. Gradually I learned to play small and dull, dumb down, and eventually just shut up. I turned off my radiance because I was repeatedly told and came to believe that I was weird.
Unlike modern-day kids who are often forced to attend this or that enrichment class—I really wanted to learn the piano, and go for dance classes, but those opportunities weren't possible. I often wondered if I was swapped at the hospital by some cruel joke.
For the longest time, I didn't truly believe I had parents who loved me because they didn't show me love in the ways I needed, and in the ways I didn't even know I needed. My Asian parents rarely touched or praised me. I couldn't tell them how to help me be happy or be more in life because I didn't know how to express my thoughts. But then, I was also never asked for my opinion in anything. Their Love Language was Acts of Service, while mine was Physical Touch. Because they didn't touch me, I didn't believe they loved me. More on The 5 Love Languages here.
Regrets, I am sure we all have plenty. Don't get me wrong. I have wonderful parents who truly did the best they could. I've obviously reconciled with my parents, have a much better relationship with them, and feel and express love with them easily now. I feel I've come full circle in many ways, and better placed in life.
This is why I identified with the twins, especially William.
Even when I accepted I wasn't born into the wrong family, I still felt that I was different. It wasn't until recent years that terms like Introvert, Empath or Highly Sensitive Person became popular. And since we don't know what we don't know, I didn't know how to thrive beyond survival —and I struggled to even survive for a long time!
Like the writer of this article who felt that she was an alien, so did I. People who are sensitive cannot be bullied into becoming less sensitive. They just end up wounded. Instead, they need to learn how to honour their nature, and take care of themselves in a world that does not seem to understand.
- Introvert—Often mistaken to be shy, introverts expend (use up) energy when around people. Extroverts gain energy from being around people. That doesn’t mean introverts dislike social settings—since people take energy from them, and they will likely need to limit their social time or seek recuperation later on. As a sexologist, I chose to be with and around new and different people each week. It drained me to a point that I realized I had to schedule non-negotiable off-days and quarterly retreats.
- Highly Sensitive Person—High sensitivity means they are more sensitive to the world around them—emotions as well as physical surroundings. This sensitivity can include to light, smell, food and sound/frequencies. You can see how this is not the same as gaining/losing energy in social settings, which is what introversion is about. Until Jan 2014, I did not know I was gluten intolerant and instead had chronic fatique. I also recently realized that I have a weak digestive system. Probotics has cleared up much of my life-long acne problem.
- Empath—Empaths are sensitive to the visible as well as invisible. They pick up on body language and voice tone, telepathically picking up your thoughts and emotions including those you wish not to be known. When I am with my clients, I pride myself for being 100% there for them (physically, emotionally, mentally and energetically). I read and sense everything that I can from what exactly they are feeling and needing from me for that moment in time—not to manipulate them in a bad way, but to best serve and help them. As you can imagine, it can be draining. However through my coming to seven years of running Eros Coaching, I have learned what I need to take care of myself.
I certainly didn't know I was an introvert, a highly-sensitive person and also an empath until several older and wiser people told me. I was busy keeping my head down after being told my whole life that I was difficult, weird and impossible to be with or around.
I have done a lot of work to learn about my nature, and to turn them into ways that work for me, because I realized I owned a desire and responsibility for humanity—to help others with my gifts. Because of what I do professionally and how I continuously put myself out there, people do not believe I am an introvert—misunderstand me, and persist on calling me an attention-seeker.
Owning The Real You
What would the world look like if we made peace with our roots—family, culture, society, religion, country etc.? I truly believe that the deeper our roots, the stronger we grow—and this includes making peace with our parents, with where we came from—as did this two pairs of twins. And this is why I went through all this time and effort producing free content on parent-child relationships for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.
What would the world be like if we made peace with our nature—quiet/ loud; introvert/ extrovert; feeling/ thinking etc.? If you feel that you too have a sensitive nature, you will benefit from reading these books: Quiet and The Highly Sensitive Person's Survival Guide. I've also just started an online support group for HSPs in Singapore.
Sure, we've been down and out, keeping our head low and playing small. We feel wounded, scarred and scared, dragging our feet behind us. And vowed to never, ever ...
Change is inevitable. Right now, your body is dying and regenerating all by itself. Our average human body will regenerate most of its cells every 7–10 years.
We cannot help but change. It is in our nature to change.The question, has to be: Is it for the better or worse?
The way of the better ... is to decide.
To decide to be soft, vulnerable and seeing.
To decide to be brave no matter what.
To decide to take risks. Or to at least try. Or die trying.
And then when we get criticized, ridiculed, judged, condemned, or seemingly fail ... to still choose to stay open.
To always, always, always ... no matter how hard things get ... to choose the higher road ... love.
To return to love.
Love is the beginning and the end.
Love is always the answer.
What if your real identity was that of a super hero, what kind of hero or heroine would you be with your unique set of gifts and talents?
Now, what if each of us took responsibility to be the best version of who we can be?
The world will not just be a better place.
The world will be a different place.
We will all be in a better place.
Be super. Not small.
Dr. Martha Tara Lee is Founder and Clinical Sexologist of Eros Coaching. She is a certified sexologist with a Doctorate in Human Sexuality. She provides sexuality and relationship coaching for individuals and couples, conducts sexual education workshops and speaks at public events. She is the author of the book Love, Sex and Everything In-Between, and the host of the weekly radio show Eros Evolution on OMTimes Radio. For more, visit www.ErosCoaching.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was originally published at Eros Coaching. Reprinted with permission from the author.