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My Sister Is My Soulmate

After decades of thinking I needed to find The One, I realized I’ve known her my entire life.
My Sister Is My Soulmate

The writer, right, with her twin sister, Tina.

Your relationship with Tina is so weird on so many levels.”

Someone I love and respect said this to me in a text last summer. Mind you, we were in the middle of an argument about something else, but the comment—about my relationship with my twin sister—still stung. Mainly because it wasn’t the first time that person had implied something like this, but also because for a large part of my adult life, I’d wondered the same thing.

Lara Ceroni with her twin sister Tina sitting on a beige sofa. The writer, right, with her twin sister, Tina.

I’m 46 years old and have a fraternal twin sister, Tina. We have been very close since, well, forever. We formed side by side in utero and have been attached at the proverbial hip ever since. My parents love to regale people with our origin story: When we had to be C-sectioned out of our mom (we were premature, which isn’t unusual for twins), Tina was on top of me and was pulled out first. Sounds corny, sure, but I like to think she was giving me a final hug before leaving our first home together.

Through a lifetime of firsts, Tina and I have been in lockstep: We did all the formative years of school together, then moved out of our parents’ place and became roomies. We spent decades competing together in triathlons, half-marathons and adventure races. Even though Tina now lives in Burlington, Ont.—about an hour west of Toronto, where I live—we never go more than five days without seeing each other. She’s the only person in my life I speak to dozens of times a day; she’s that essential.

Often our connection feels enchanted: I will think of something I want to tell her, and she’ll reach out to me soon after. Tina is my go-to confidante for every lousy date, work drama and life joy. She was the first person I called when I broke off my engagement in 2017 and the first responder in the months that followed when I found myself in a dark place.

In 2007, Tina got sick with a rare neurological disease called stiff-person syndrome. (SPS has been in the news recently due to Céline Dion, who shared she was diagnosed with it in 2022.) We spent a decade navigating a quagmire of medical appointments, varying prognoses and way too many emergency rooms. When Tina moved to Ottawa for three months to undergo a life-saving stem-cell transplant, I spent every weekend with her. It was the scariest experience of my life, but I knew then, as I still know now, that there was nowhere else I wanted to be than by her side.

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Not only have Tina and I been through some very difficult shared trauma but we have literally grown through life together. I can be vulnerable with her, exactly as I am. Tina is my rock—my best friend and my favourite person. So why have I been made to feel guilty about it?

On and off, throughout the different phases of our adulthood, Tina and I have been referred to as “codependent.” People have said it directly to our faces or through innuendo, in the middle of a heated fight or in hushed voices escaping through the cracks of closed-door conversations. It’s been implied by friends, family and boyfriends. My ex-fiancé never embraced my relationship with my sister. He looked at Tina as competition and made little effort to get to know her in the three years we were together. (While that’s not why our relationship ended, it didn’t help.) It seemed that I couldn’t have him and her—it was one or the other.

The writer with Tina and the second love of her life: Tina’s daughter, Sandy Lou. The writer with Tina and the second love of her life: Tina’s daughter, Sandy Lou.

Even now, I’m sure people in my circle still think I’m not married or in a serious partnership because of Tina, as if having a close relationship with my sister has somehow stunted my ability to be successful in a romantic one.

I downplayed the significance of my relationship with Tina for decades because of this, always making sure to prioritize the conversation around my ambition to find a man. The funny thing is, I was doing it for everyone else’s comfort, not my own. Now, things are different. I’m plenty vocal about how Tina is my most important person, and I don’t worry about how other people choose to interpret that. On my online dating profile, there’s a prompt that says: “The one thing you should know about me is…” My answer: “That I have a twin sister who is everything to me and to be with me, you have to embrace her.” I refuse to have a romantic relationship with someone who doesn’t respect my relationship with my sister.

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I don’t entirely blame the naysayers. What I have with Tina represents a deeper truth: that we rarely give credence to profound platonic love. We have long-established narratives when it comes to romantic partnerships (“It was love at first sight!”). But it’s rare that people acknowledge, let alone enthuse about, the moment they “fell” for another person in a platonic way. Humans tend to view romantic love as the end goal—as the only answer to being fulfilled in life. Friendship just isn’t good enough.

I knew early on that my fiancé wasn’t my person, but, wow, did I persevere. I’d been conditioned to believe that at 34, it was time for me to put on my Big Girl pants: have the wedding, the white picket fence, the kids. Through bouts of anxiety, I coerced myself into thinking this was it. I don’t regret that relationship—it wasn’t all bad—but I do regret lying to myself for as long as I did. And I still don’t think a relationship should ever feel that hard.

For years, I thought that all my life learnings had to happen in the trenches of a romantic union; that this type of relationship was the only route to becoming a better me. I didn’t realize that I’d already been in the deep end with someone. Tina has taught me so much about who I am and want to be. In some ways, I feel way ahead of my married friends. You have 20 years together? That’s great, but I have 46.

Moving on from my broken engagement took time. I’ve had other meaningful romantic relationships, but that sense of yearning for The One has lost its urgency. I’m single right now, and I care less and less about it. I finally feel comfortable saying out loud that I already have my person, and I’ve had her all along—Tina.

Funnily enough, I don’t expect Tina to look at me in the same light. I don’t know if I’m The One for her because her priorities have shifted in the most beautiful way. In 2021, Tina became a single mother through the help of a surrogate. I remember the moment she put her daughter, Sandy Lou, in my arms for the first time, this tiny new being who’d come into the world against so many odds. I was flooded with overwhelming love. It has been one of my greatest privileges to get to know this little one and see my sister flourish as a mom. Now, Tina and Sandy are the loves of my life. How lucky am I that I get to have two of them?

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