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Monday’s “Live Your Story” Series- Dr. Linda Marten

February 14, 2011

Today, authenticity is the buzz word.  Inside or outside the church people are fighting to stave off the dreaded term of hypocrisy.  It is my belief that we can’t be authentic until we are willing to take an honest look at our life in regard to our failures, successes, fears, and how we treat others.  All that openness is difficult stuff though.  I can attest to my personal hesitation in exploring my murky depths as well as making a living as a professional helping others trying to do the same.  Some of my training in the exploration and appreciation of people’s stories is due in part to Dr. Linda Marten.  She is a woman who has spent decades walking alongside men and women dealing with the chapters of life that don’t seem to fit within the greater narrative.  She gives her presence to those who need it and her wisdom to those who ask for it.  Today, she gives us all a little bit of both.  Enjoy.

Dr. Linda Marten

Therapist

Professor, Dallas Theological Seminary

Dallas, Texas

 

 

1. Name a person, book, or moment that served as a catalyst in the pursuit of your passion?

As a child, I thrived in the center of an ideal world, my older sister did the housework with Mother and my 6 year older brother was in charge of me – my entertainment and safety. I had fun learning crafts and survival skills out of the Boy Scout manual; marksmanship on the Daisy BB rifle, and precision fast pitching a baseball like the guys. I experienced every day as a new adventure, getting to shadow my big brother and his friends. I felt confident and super competent.

When I was 10 ½ I went to summer camp. Of course, I excelled at the crafts and sports skills. It was a great week of fun – until an hour before my parents were to pick me up. I was quietly packing my clothes and overheard three girls talking in the next room. They said something critical about “Linda”. I froze, I was shocked. I never imagined I might secretly be disliked! (Nor did I consider they might be referring to another in our cabin named Linda). I was so mortified I hid in the bathroom until my parents came. I said goodbye to no one, but got quickly into the car, slid low in the back seat and never talked about what had just happened.

Strange how this one small incident helped direct the course of my life. In that fluke of a moment at camp I realized there was an unseen world I wasn’t aware of. It was filled with peoples’ true hidden feelings and secret opinions. The effect? … I became insecure, shy and very self-conscious, afraid of what others really thought of me. I think I then began “acting natural” instead of  simply being natural. I also began looking for what was under the surface of encounters, the hidden realities, motives, and feelings. Guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that I became a psychotherapist who specializes in trauma and in dissociated memories! And least surprising of all – I really love it and seem wired for it!

2. What risks did you have to take along the way and how did they interact with your fears?

My counseling practice began with typical, traditional and comfortable cases. It evolved, however, into working with survivors of satanic cults or sadistic torture who had developed Dissociative Identity Disorder (previously called multiple personality disorder) and who often felt possessed by demons. This was and is seen with deep skepticism by most psychiatrists. This was especially
true in the mid 1980’s when I first began seeing these types of cases. When my clients needed psychiatric care or hospitalization I risked the doctors’ and hospital staff’s opinion of my diagnosis and my skills. I was confident in what I was observing, but their opinion of my work and their “hidden feelings” about me, my judgment, and my competence was always in the back of my mind.. I feared
real or secret criticism by those on the top rung of my profession. My passion, however, and my calling to help clients look further, deeper, behind and under, in order to resolve the mystery of their past and be set free was stronger than my fears. I turned the skeptical response into an opportunity to educate those who were open.

3. What was the biggest and most unexpected pain (a blind side moment) in your journey? How has it changed you and your process?

I had two close friends. I wasn’t prepared for how painful it was to lose them to marriage. Yes, I was supposed to be happy for them – and at one level I was. But my selfish level, which I seemed more familiar with, was pained with abandonment and betrayal feelings. People typically step out of the single world to be lost to the world of couples and families. I wasn’t willing to let my friends disappear. In both cases I fought and worked to maintain the connections. God stretched me in my capacity to care and be loyal while in pain. My grip on my affections had to be loosened and replaced with patience and a “willingness to share” my friends’ time and caring. That was hard….but God did accomplish His project. Even now, though, I continue to grab what I want…. but with a much looser and tentative hand! And my two friendships? …well, we’re closer because of the resolved struggles and still going on 42 and 50 years, with a “new” added friendship thriving after 35 years. I am truly blessed!!

4. What is a question that you don’t get asked but wish you would?

What question don’t I get asked – probably, “What do you think is really going on behind the world scene?”

5. Answer your desired question.

Because I professionally deal with the hidden abuse and evil in the world, and avocationally track the fringe, the spurious and the conspiracies, I have a darker view of “reality”. Most people want a simple and pleasant world, want their “personal peace and affluence” as Frances Schaeffer said, so they don’t desire to see beyond their own problems. Comfort zone is the place they like to stay!

My thorough answer to my question would require a tome of writing. My brief answer is: We live in a world of deception. What we see isn’t what’s real. There are “shell games” going on that keep us distracted with apparent freedoms and choices. There is more cloaked evil among us than we suspect. The battles in the spirit world are more real and pervasive then our sophisticated culture can accept. The secrets contained by world governments and the military and industrial complex would shock and probably terrify us. And God is still the Lord of hosts, Jesus is real, His name and blood are powerful, prayer changes things, love ultimately conquers all, and God and His people win!!

Therefore, love God, hold your friends close, develop and enjoy a community of people with which you can feel safety and belonging ….. and keep looking up! It may be soon!

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