Freed From Bulimia
Seeking help from the perfect God for our imperfections.
by Kaylie Biggs as told to Karen Whiting
One of my mother’s friends prayed over me while I grew inside the womb. Her prayers worked: I arrived a healthy baby girl after a C-section. Unfortunately, due to poor choices later in life, I didn’t stay healthy.
Home life didn’t help. My family split apart in my toddler years. My grandmother helped raise me and taught me about Jesus. I attended church as a girl and was baptized at age ten, but I understood God’s love and became a Christian only when my brother read in Romans 12:9 that love must be sincere.
That point was important to me. I wanted life to be sincere — genuine. The lack of parental involvement in my growing-up years devastated my self-image, making me insecure and lacking any true direction or motivation for my future.
Desire for perfection
I became aware of my body and looks after I’d dropped out of high school and started cosmetology school. Magazines with photos of women gave me new expectations. Images of perfect skin and thin bodies jumped out at me.
I knew the photographs covered up blemishes with makeup, but those images stayed in my mind and fueled a desire to look perfect. I started trying to control my body to become perfect in the world’s view.
I also struggled in my search for love. At age 17, after dropping out, I met Justin. I got pregnant with my daughter, Kayden, but never married. Justin and I split up when Kayden was two.
Sometime later I met James. He loved my daughter and me unconditionally, and we got married. But after we purchased a house, we encountered financial problems. Stress made me feel out of control, so I started to overeat and then purge.
I wanted to become the genuine woman God wanted me to be, but felt trapped in stress and strained relationships outside my marriage. Eating with no limits made me briefly feel euphoric and gratified my desire to have what I saw. Vomiting relieved the stress. Doing this, I could control something in my life.
When my daughter started inviting friends over to play in our home, I realized bulimia wasn’t the path I wanted for her. My eating disorder and false images of beauty weren’t the example I wanted to set.
In response to my prayers for help, God sent a few women into my life.
One was a woman in her fifties. As I styled her hair, she shared about her years of bulimia and anorexia that led to osteoporosis. The woman also told me that faith had saved her and changed her lifestyle. This was a vibrant woman, full of life. I wanted what she had.
Then former model Jennifer Strickland became my client. She not only related her struggle with anorexia but also gave me a copy of her book with her testimony of overcoming the disorder. “We are like trees,” she explained, “and if there are bad roots, there are dead branches.”
Jennifer’s words spoke to the area in my life that involved my eating disorder. I had dead branches from the bad root of my past, but I didn’t want to stay that way. I wanted to be a whole, healthy tree where people could find rest and shelter.
When I read the book, I realized that God understood my problem and knew my secret. Suffocating and wanting to thrive, I sought outside help for stress and started seeing a counselor.
Thanks to counseling, I learned to set boundaries, even with extended family members. Reading the book Boundaries, by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend, showed me how to keep some areas of my life private.
I also learned to say “no” when people volunteered me to do things. For years I impulsively said “yes” to everything because I associated “no” with rejection. Rejection had hurt me so bad, I feared causing the same pain to someone else. All the while, I was inflicting more pain on myself.
Even with counseling, I continued with bulimia, but I noticed a change with that as well. Every time I looked into the toilet and emptied my stomach, I could hear God speak to my heart: “I love you. You’re special.” I sensed that He hurt when I hurt. I also started to view my actions as attempts to control out of selfishness.
For years I kept my secret of bulimia from my husband. When I finally confessed it to him, he expressed his love for me and pledged his support. He became a partner in helping me overcome my eating disorder.
Steps to healing
Bringing bulimia out in the open triggered my healing, and my husband’s love and concern encouraged me to face life and choices in a new way.
I began viewing food as fuel for my body and learned to not over indulge as an escape from stress. I now drink lots of water and choose foods that digest easily. It helps to eat several small meals daily rather than larger ones.
The Bible offers support, too. Verses remind me that inner beauty is more important than outer (1 Peter 3:3) and that staying in fellowship with other believers keeps me from stumbling (5:8). I love the truth in this contrast: “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised” (Proverbs 31:30, NIV).
I pray for strength to be a woman of God, rather than give into a worldly view of beauty.
This is hard to do, especially in the hair industry. Every day magazines inspire and feed my creativity, but over-exposure to particular ones can open doors for Satan to attack. Spending too much time looking at the pictures can change the way I view others and myself, altering my ability to see true beauty through eyes of love.
I’ve learned that my Creator loves me and sees beauty much differently than others do. He sees beauty in brokenness. Now I look beyond people’s outer adornment to their inner beauty and needs. I also look at their eyes for hope or hidden shame. If I see brittle, dry hair — a sign of poor nourishment — I try to show sincere care and concern.
I’m thankful for the prayers of my mother’s friend before my birth. She prayed for my life, and God answered those prayers through Jennifer and others on my journey. My love for my grandmother and her love for Jesus kept my heart open to Him and gave me the willingness to change.
Every day I choose to live a healthy lifestyle and show my daughter and women the path of real beauty — the path set by God.