By Elisha Hammond
Bulimia sufferer rejoices in broken addiction
Bulimia and a skewed body image haunted Marie Notcheva for 17 years due to her family's idolization of the stereotypically model image.
"I often felt alone and outcast from my own family; I was an ugly duckling who was just not good enough to be accepted," she recalls.
"As early as age seven, I remember praying to God that He would make me thinner, so that my mother would love me more."
Throughout her school life, Marie became obsessed with obtaining the perfect body, first through healthy avenues such as moderate exercise and a balanced diet.
As she got older, she adopted some harmful approaches to losing weight.
"In 10th grade, I went on a lettuce and diet coke regimen for a while; then became bulimic," she admits.
Soon, food was not just a barrier in the way of a better figure – it was the enemy – leading her to graduate high school at a mere 88lbs.
Then in her sophomore year of university she curiously decided to join a Christian campus group.
From a young age Marie had a loose understanding of Jesus and His love but when she heard the life stories of other followers of Christ she decided to become a Christian.
"I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior, but it was more an intellectual acceptance of Him in my life than a total giving of my life to Him – a true surrender of my will.
"Deep down, I was frightened that I would never be able to completely submit this ugly secret that controlled my life to His authority."
Despite her newfound salvation, Marie still held onto her bulimic habits and continued to hold her pursuit of the perfect body in the highest regard throughout university.
When she graduated and moved to Bulgaria, Marie also adopted a drinking addiction in an attempt to deal with the pain and emptiness caused by binging and purging.
She married in 1995 but hid her bulimic habits from her husband, even when they moved back to the States to start a family.
"I could not even stop purging during my first three pregnancies, although thankfully the babies were all healthy and normal weight," she admits.
At this point Marie was painfully aware that her hunger was not physical.
In fact it was a "spiritual hunger" that left her searching for a permanent source of contentment.
"I tried desperately to turn away from this sin, only to find myself inexplicably drawn back in," she says.
"Bulimia is a spiritual disease masquerading as a physical one. I had this insight, but it didn't stop me from binging when the uncontrollable urge kicked in."
The answer to her cry for help came when she noticed a small newspaper ad about the prayer ministry of a local church and decided it would not hurt to check it out.
"I walked in timidly, almost in tears; not knowing what to expect. Three compassionate Christian women prayed earnestly that God would break this bondage in my life and that I would know His forgiveness and healing."
As a result of this encounter, Marie surrendered her eating disorder to God and committed to trusting in Him, which she says is still a daily process of repentance (turning away from wrong thoughts and sins) and staying connected to God through prayer and reading the Bible.
"After my first visit, I stopped drinking completely. I went several days without binging or purging. Over the course of the next few months, I would regularly go about six days on average without an episode. Prior to this I had been purging two or three times, on average, per day."
Then she began studying what the Bible had to say about idols and overcoming sin and Ephesians chapter 4 spoke to her about "putting off" old habits and "put on" new, God-honoring ones.
"God didn't just instantly fix my addiction," she adds, "It was by ongoing reading of the Bible, prayer and renewing my mind that the Holy Spirit gave me power over the temptation."
Since then God has continually helped transform her lifestyle and she has been completely healed from bulimia for 13 years without a single relapse.
Today Marie works as certified biblical counsellor with a passion to help other young women in their struggle with eating disorders and body image.
She has also written two books, one titled Redeemed from the Pit: Biblical Repentance and Restoration from the Bondage of Eating Disorders, available for purchase on Amazon.com.?
For more about Marie visit her blog at marienotcheva.wordpress.com