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This is Ruth. Her story is kind of sad, because it's about how her parents recently got divorced. Ruth’s parents were married for 20 years, and at least in her eyes they’d always seemed like the ideal couple. It’s true that they were pretty different, but she thought it was that classic case when two people complete each other just like two pieces of a puzzle. Her dad is a big, quiet man, always ready to give a kind smile to anyone. Her mom is the exact opposite – a firework of a person. She’s always talking or doing something, laughing noisily and having arguments with people. So, what did they have in common? RUTH. She was an only child and they both adored her.
Some time after her 15th birthday, Ruth’s parents said they needed to talk to her. She hated that “We need to talk” stuff, and straight away felt pretty nervous. Her bad feeling was correct, as she soon heard that phrase every child dreads: “We decided that we need to divorce. You’re grown up and we hope you understand us.” Well, she acted very considerately, and didn’t ask a thing about what had happened. But one thing bothered her above all. How come she’d never notices they weren’t getting along anymore?
All of a sudden their life became a real hell. They started the divorce process like two civilized people, and kept it up like that when dividing their assets...until it came to the most precious thing – their daughter. Both her mom and dad wanted her to live with them, and was determined to stand their ground. “Mom? Dad? I’m a person, not a thing! Maybe you could ask me what I want?” Ruth thought. Now Ruth had always known she would need to grow up one day, but didn’t expect that it would have to happen so soon.
The three of them were still living together, but it was no longer their nice cozy home anymore. Ruth noticed one thing in particular that was worrying her a lot. Her mom was trying to win her affection in any way possible. She started buying her expensive stuff and took her out to spas and restaurants, and generally started acting more like her best friend than her mother. It was nice, but didn’t give her a good feeling. The worst thing was that when they were alone she always tried to convince Ruth that her father was a weak person or that he was too busy to give her attention, and plenty of other not very nice things. Whereas her dad was acting like he’d already lost – he was there always looking sad, eating his dinners all alone and staring at her like a kicked dog.
Right before the court date, Ruth accidentally overheard something super-painful. Her mom and dad were having a private conversation, and she heard her mother say: “If you claim that you can’t take care of Ruth, I’ll let you see her freely anytime you want; otherwise I’ll accuse you of being violent and will do everything I can to limit your time with her. Do as I say, because you know that she'll choose me anyway!” Ruth felt like she’d been struck by lightning. Her eyes were opened at once to just how manipulative her mom was. And this blackmail was horrible! She heard her dad give in to her mom just so he would have the opportunity to see her. She was overwhelmed, and at that moment made her decision. The next day, to everyone’s shock, she said that she wanted to live with her dad. Her mom looked like she’d been slapped in the face, and her dad burst into tears right there in front of everyone.
Afterwards, Ruth stayed on to live with her dad, and once her mom had left she felt bitter inside. With their “friendship” over, she called Ruth from time to time just to tell her what an ungrateful traitor she was. Ruth didn’t know how to answer her. Ruth was convinced that she had done nothing wrong, though. Whereas her dad was now totally happy, always caring, always asking for her opinion and giving her nice treats. She now had lots of freedom, which was really handy for a 15-year-old girl.
Ruth wanted to go overnight to a music festival, and her dad on this occasion stood firm and said that he wouldn’t let her go because she was too young. She cried and yelled but he said it wasn’t up for negotiation. Desperate to go, she suddenly shouted at him: “You know what? If you don’t let me go, I’ll call mom and ask her to let me live with her!” That kicked dog expression appeared once more on her dad's face; he just said “Ok. Do whatever you like,” and left the room in silence. Ruth stood there unable to believe how much she’d just screwed up. She felt so ashamed!
At that moment, she realised how much she had inherited her mother’s personality traits. She had that same trait of being a shameless manipulator that Ruth detested her for. But soon she also realised that she could understand her mother a little better now: she had manipulated Ruth and blackmailed her dad because she had been desperate, and she did it for something way more serious than her daughter’s petty teenage whims.