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Are you a Tortured Soul?

I recently rented the movie "Summer in February" on my Amazon account because it was an English turn of the 20th Century period piece with that lovely actor who played Matthew on Downton Abbey... and  I was jonesing for my Downton Abbey fix since the last season came and went with hardly enough episodes to keep a small ant's mind busy - let alone mine!

So, in anticipation of the peaceful escape to 19-teen England, I settled in to watch... what became to my horror, the story of a young woman who actually, truthfully, and in all honesty CHOOSES to become a "tortured" soul.

She has chances along the way to escape this fate.  But she doesn't choose them.  Instead, she chooses to stay the course of the becoming, and being, a tortured soul - until she commits suicide.

How does she do this?

Wanting to become an artist - instead of becoming an artist chooses to marry a man who is an artist. 

There are signs from the beginning that he is a bit careless, a bit cruel, and a bit self-involved.  But he's not an absolute OGRE of a man, he's just - a bit cruel, a bit careless, and a bit self-involved.  Still, when she experiences his cruelty before she marries him... instead of running hell for leather to the hills AWAY from her engagement... she feels the cruelty, feels "tortured" by it, and continues on to marry the man she perceives to be of emotional harm to her.

But the plot is thicker than this.  There is another man - played by that Oh-So-Heavenly actor Dan Stevens, our beloved Matthew from previous seasons of Downton Abbey - who is not cruel, not careless, and not quite as self-involved as the artist she decides to marry.  This heavenly man also loves her and wants to marry her, but before he can ask her - the artist does, and she says "yes."  Realizing her mistake before she marries the artist, she STILL DOES NOT END HER ENGAGEMENT, -  choosing instead to be a tortured soul who does not, or will not, love the man she has chosen to marry.

I would feel sorry for this young woman, except that the film makes it so clear that she is clearly choosing this terrible fate for herself and for the kind man who loves her, and for the not-quite-an-ogre but still sometimes cruel, careless and often self-involved artist.

Her suicide attempt and final suicide at the end of the film also don't make me feel sad for her, beyond being sad for her making the decision to be and become a tortured soul... and to involve others in her decision who would rather have been left out of it.

What I came away from, after watching this movie, is that happiness and contentment can be a choice that one makes actively and often... and to NOT make that choice, the choice to be happy and content, but to choose instead emotional mayhem, stress, pain... to walk the path of the "tortured" soul... is not a sign of virtue and victimization by others.  It's a sign of self-involved pseudo-self-sacrifice... without the necessary realization that if one is making a bad decision for oneself... one is also making a bad decision for other people... and by extension, the world.

So today, take stock of your situation - are you sacrificing yourself to a tortured situation?  Are you doing something that harms your soul, your emotional self - your spiritual being in the world - because you think someone else wants or needs you to make this sacrifice?  Are you really serving others or the greater world by making this decision (if you are?) -  or are you choosing happiness and contentment?

It makes a difference - not just to you, but to others in close relationship with you... and as the ripples of your happiness (or tortured-ness) ripple outward - it makes a difference to the entire world.

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