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Vanishing Twin Syndrome

A family constellation session

Medicine stories

Session summaries shared with permission (all names have been changed) illustrating ancestral origins of problems and how a family constellation can bring resolution.

Presenting Themes: a Vanishing Twin

Luciana brings a range of themes to her first session, including that of being the surviving twin in a case of vanishing twin syndrome. When asked what a successful outcome would look like for the work we are undertaking, it would be to find a sense of inner spaciousness and peace, for her and her family. Her current experience is far from peaceful. She experiences intense fear and overwhelm, my nervous system radar picks up the potential for underlying trauma.

She mentions several times having a “strange relationship with time” and describes constantly holding on. I ask her where she feels this in her body, she says in her hands – and that to let go would have deeply catastrophic consequences. I ask when was the earliest she can recall feeling this way and she realises it is “a thread she can trace all the way back and has always been with her”.

We follow this thread for the constellation …

The Constellation: Reaching for the Vanished Twin?

We are working on Skype using Luciana’s capacity to journey through inner vision. Additionally I guide her often to explore the sensations in her body and awareness of her breath. She has provided me with a very detailed family tree prior to the session and there are many areas of interest.

I invite her to drop into the sensation of “holding on” in her hands, she finds this easy to do. Following a hunch, I ask if she senses her sister in the womb: the questions holds a deep and instantaneous emotional traction for her. We hang out for some time exploring how it might be to have sensed her sibling in the womb, only to lose that presence later. The feeling of holding on in her hands becomes acute until she hears from her sister the words “you can let go now”.

The whole session is a long movement of separation, recognising that she and her sister are separate beings. I ask her to see if there is a place for her sister and her deceased maternal Grandfather steps forward to take her, a deep stillness visibly overtakes Luciana.

Touching stillness through deep inner work, can offer moments of peace in an otherwise tumultuous inner life. I think of these moments like prayer beads: eventually they can form into an unbroken chain, one peaceful moment merging into the next.

Session Postscript: Another ‘Vanishing’ Sibling?

I sat and drew (as I often do) Luciana’s family tree before her session. I use the liminal space of drawing to allow clues to arise from more than my rational mind. I went to draw three siblings in her mothers family but had to cross one out, it seemed I had made a ‘mistake’ and that her mother was one of only two children.

Luciana is one of three siblings and I had intuitively drawn three siblings in her mothers family – the coincidence of this strikes me. As a hunch at the very end of the call, I ask Luciana to ask her mother: did she have another sibling who died? Hours later I receive this email:

You were right, my mother had a younger brother that died as a baby, his name was David …

Time and again, I see the hunches arising in a family constellation turn out to be true. However its best to offer them lightly with an open mind: we never know and it can be unhelpful or confusing if something can’t be proven. In this instance, we had the benefit of being able to confirm the hunch.

This session touched on one facet of Luciana’s experience: being the suriving twin in a case of vanishing twin syndrome. Further themes include being raised as a Jehovah’s Witness: she describes living with the daily belief that “this may be the last day, and when it is, the good will become eternal, and the bad will perish”.

We leave this for another next time, but it provides an interesting seed of thought: how might our relationship with time be, when we lived everyday of our childhood believing it might be our last?