I’d like to tell you a story about somebody I know. She’s only a little girl but she’s very special because she’s a lot older than she looks. She only appears to be a small child of around six years old, and she spends most of her time sitting in a dark corner, trembling with fear and quietly weeping.
Now you might be asking yourself, who is this little girl? Why is she sitting in the dark? Why is she crying?
Well, this little girl (whom as I said before is a lot older than she looks) had a very difficult childhood. I know. I know. A lot people say they had a difficult childhood, and unfortunately some of them really did, but many of them mean their parents got divorced when they were little and they had to spend their weekends at their dad’s house. Or they might mean they were bullied at school. And yes, these things are awful things for a child to go through.
However, this little girl’s childhood was a horror movie. The first act begins with the following characters:
A Little Girl with crippling anxiety and self-esteem problems, who later turns into a self-injuring teenager.
An aloof, absent, and mentally unstable Father.
A mentally manipulative and sexually abusive Stepfather.
An overwhelmed Mother who sends the Little Girl away when she is six years-old, to live with her mentally unstable Father. The Little Girl doesn’t understand that it’s only temporary.
During this first act the Little Girl’s Mother meets and and moves in with the man who eventually becomes her sexually abusive Stepfather.
When the Little Girl is about fourteen years old, her Mother decides to change careers and starts going to college. The Little Girl’s Mother often isn’t at home, and during those times, her Stepfather makes her lie down with him on the bed. He calls it snuggling, and he wraps his arms and legs around the Little Girl as they lay there together in the dark in complete silence. The Little Girl is afraid to make a sound. He lets her keep her clothes on, but she knows that this isn’t right. She doesn’t know what to do about it and therefore doesn’t say anything.
As she gets older, the snuggling eventually stops but the Stepfather asks the Little Girl almost every day if she wants to take a shower with him. At first she thinks he must be joking but he keeps asking her over and over. She always says no. Occasionally he touches her breasts and in between her legs. He makes her touch him and warns her not to tell her Mother, and she never does. She tells very few people. Only her younger brother and a few of her friends know what is happening.
Then one day, when she is eighteen years old, the Little Girl tries to run away. She is eventually found and taken home, and as soon as she arrives, her Mother and Stepfather inform her that she has to leave again, immediately. They send her to live with her biological father, with whom, up to that point, she has spent very little time.
At this point, a second act begins and other characters appear in the movie.
After a short stay with her father, the Little Girl moves in with friends from school and tries to be an adult. She is for the most part a good girl. She stays away from heavy drinking and drugs, but she develops an appetite for sex. It feels good and it makes her feel loved, and wanted, and pretty, even if it’s just a one night stand. There are a few of those until she moves in with her first real boyfriend, with whom she lives for a year and a half. Then there are couple more flings and a longer but still brief relationship.
Then the Little Girl then meets a very charming, good looking, and funny man who seems to care about her a lot. She is so desperate to be loved, and so terrified of rejection, that he soon figures out that he can say or do almost anything to her and she would never leave him. He is not a man but a Man-Child who makes the Little Girl feel smart and beautiful and important, and also he makes her feel fat and stupid and ugly and completely worthless. Soon the Little Girl’s entire life revolves around the Man-Child’s emotions and constant demands. Any questioning of his orders leads to a torrent of verbal abuse, so she learns to keep her mouth shut and always does what he says without question. The Man-Child chooses what clothes the Little Girl is allowed to wear, what hair-color she is allowed to have, what music she is allowed to listen to, what movies and television shows she is allowed to watch, what food she is allowed to eat, what activities she is allowed to do, and what people she is allowed to be friends with.
He regularly abuses her for her deviating from his expectations for her behavior and actions, but does not hold himself to the same standards. The Man-Child is allowed to be a lazy slob but the Little Girl never is. She is at this point, a very attractive woman, and her purpose is to make the Man-Child look good. She is his trophy, and any behavior he doesn’t like he sees as reflecting poorly on him. If he says something hurtful to her public, she isn’t allowed to get upset because he says people were watching and would think he had been beating her. He obsesses about what other people think of him, is convinced everyone is constantly watching him and copying him, and he cares about their collective opinions a lot more than he does about her.
But eventually the Little Girl becomes too old, too fat, and too boring for The Man-Child, and he stops caring about her, not even enough to abuse her anymore. He starts sleeping with other women when she’s at work and justifies it by saying he needs more sex than he is getting from her. He wants out of the relationship but is too afraid to tell her. The Man-Child always leaves awkward or difficult tasks to the Little Girl, and breaking up is no exception.
Then the Little Girl, now a young lady of thirty, meets another man. He is a much younger man, only nineteen years old when they first move in together. The Teenager is very different from the Man-Child. He never demands anything of her, never yells at her or belittles her or tells her what to do. For the Little Girl, to not have an insecure and judgmental Man-Child demanding constant attention is heaven. But unfortunately, the Teenager is the opposite swing of the pendulum. The Little Girl had gone from a controlling, insecure, over-emotional Man-Child obsessed with how she looks and how she behaves, to a non-emotional Teenager who doesn’t care about those things at all. And over the years, what little feelings he did have for her evaporate. The Teenager spends entire days playing video games without uttering more than a handful of words to the Little Girl. He eats the food she cooks and then goes right back to playing video games. The Little Girl goes to bed early every night because she has to be at work at eight in the morning, but the Teenager stays up playing video games until two or three in the morning. When she leaves for work a few hours later, he is fast asleep. The Teenager withdraws completely into his own little world. He stops wanting sex and and then he stops thinking about her altogether. She is simply not there anymore. She had become invisible to him.
After being in a loveless and sexless relationship for years, she ends up in bed with a Friend, someone she has known for many years, and with whom she has a very special bond. He understands her in the way that the Teenager never did.
Shortly after that, the Little Girl and The Teenager split up, but it has nothing to do with her transgression. He never finds out. Their relationship had been dying for a long time and then it simply ends. She rebounds right back into the Friend’s bed, but she knows there is no future in it. He is definitely not boyfriend material. He also has a girlfriend of his own, and although sneaking around behind her back is a lot of guilty pleasure fun, it also hurts the Little Girl’s soul. After a while she starts to develop stronger feelings for him and decides to nip that flower in the bud before it blossoms into love. They were really great friends before they started sleeping together and they are better as friends rather than lovers.
In the third act of the movie, the resolution of the plot occurs.
Finally, well into her thirties, the Little Girl meets the Man. The perfect Man. The Man who would at last make an honest Woman of her. They get married on the day before her 40th birthday.
However, that painfully insecure and anxious Little Girl never goes away. She has become a Little Demon. All the rejection and abuse and betrayal and neglect from her life before she met and married The Man is still there, embodied in that Little Demon. Most of the time she is quiet, but every so often she comes out of her cage, and the painstakingly maintained outer shell that appears happy and reassuring cracks open and peels away. The Man has a kind face and a gentle heart, but he is very strong. He uses his strong arms and shoulders to hold the Little Demon’s fists and keep her from hurting the Little Girl. He holds her tight and just lets the Little Demon scream and scream.
And then, the shell reforms and the Little Demon is once again safely back in her cage, sitting in a dark corner, trembling with fear and quietly weeping. And waiting. Always waiting for the next time something kicks her cage and lets her out again.