Tamara Landau

THE TIGHTROPE WALKERS OF OBLIVION – Prenatal Origins of Anorexia and Bulimia


I was born without a body… I have deserted my own being since birth…. I am a void that walks the other side of the mirror….I feel inscribed in nothingness.

The words of anorexic and bulimic women have been part of my life for years, a little like a piece of music from a movie.  Their chants tinged with nostalgia and pain akin  to forlorn lullabies that sound all alike weave the thread of my listening, pace the silences, and unsettle my thinking. They fiercely monopolize me for fear of being abandoned once more.

Akin to figures remotely roaming uncharted deserts, they shriek in strident emptiness. Intoxicated with thirst and distress -on the verge of agony-, they already feel dead.

Here are Soledad’s first words, whispered in the time of a breath: “my parents have forgotten me somewhere… I feel like a bird wandering in the air… a bird has a nest it comes from and to go back to. As for me, I haven’t had a nest or parents and I have been waiting… to be loved… for someone to show me the way… to live… to want…. to be able to love….to have a body of my own… I feel stuck inside, stuck in a void full of tears, and I am waiting…”

Their voices arise from the origins of Time, materializing first in a drip of tears of stars followed in a staccato hum and then a blind silence. Thus mute, they disappear behind the galaxy from which they stare at us in despair.  As ghost stars in a sidereal void for millennia, they have been waiting for us.

Stella says: “I have chosen the easy way: keeping nothing from me, the me- from-before, and the me-that-mom-had-chosen-for-me. If I ever venture to define that utter lapse of memory… I feel impressed by the casualness, or almost insolence with which I give in to deprivation, leading in turn to nothingness.”

I carry in me the poignant pasts of those patients, shadows gone astray in search of their lost bodies. They are orphans untiringly wandering in the furrows of absence.

As time goes by, I did not want to be only the depositary of their memories, the witness of their existences, and the invisible keeper of their images. I had to find answers to these questions: Why have they lost their bodies? Why do they destroy their bodies with either too much or not enough food in an incessant dance with death?  Why, akin to shooting stars, do they cry for help as they slip into nothingness, thus wanting to make us their helpless accomplices? And, above all, how can we help them find their lost bodies precipitated into the bottom of the well of Time and into the depths of forgetfulness?