I was mad, upset, tired, and fed up with being always just a choice. Jay used me as a pawn to reach a higher position in the company, and where I thought we were getting closer, he didn’t. He was probably embarrassed by me. After the scene with the bouquet and glasses and the conversation I overheard in the bathroom, I was bursting with emotions.

When Jay grabbed my hand and asked, “Where are you leaving, Bella?”

I just wanted to go home and cry. I said, “Home.” Jay, with a soft voice, pleaded, “Don’t leave, because I…” He paused, looking deeply into my eyes. As he got closer, it seemed like he wanted to kiss me. I stepped back, and he looked confused.

“What happened?” he asked, concern evident in his voice.

I felt exhausted, but I couldn’t hold it back any longer. I let out everything I had been holding inside. “Jay, I was always hesitant to let people in because of two fears: the harm they might inflict and the flaws they might discover.” I began, my voice trembling with pent-up emotion. “I may be clumsy and prone to mishaps, but I hold a profound love for intellectual conversation. The kind where we can sit and discuss love, life, and everything in between. Sitting under the moon, with endless time and no obligations, talking freely without fear of consequences. Engaging in deep, meaningful discussions for hours about what truly matters in life.”

I took a deep breath, the words pouring out faster now. “Because I’m human, I keep making mistakes. Striving for a mistake-free life only reveals pride. My mistakes can benefit me, teaching humility and helping me empathize with others and their struggles. One day, I will realize that everything I lost was never truly mine. Those experiences entered my life to teach me resilience and to recognize my worth.”

I wiped a tear from my cheek. “I must let go of my fear of failure. Failure is a crucial part of the journey. Those who never fail are the ones who never try. I learn from my mistakes. I am not afraid to fail; I was only afraid before I understood what living truly means. No one has lived your experiences, and no one can walk in your shoes as you do, so no one has the right to tell you how to feel, how to heal, or what your next step should be. Only you know what’s best for you. Remember, your life is yours. Embrace it. Own it. Live it.”

My voice cracked, but I pressed on. “I never got married because I sought someone who would inspire me to improve and grow. Relationships go beyond just falling in love; they’re about encouraging each other to become better versions of ourselves every day. The person you once loved deeply also teaches you never to love in that same way again, becoming a lasting lesson.”

Jay looked at me, his eyes filled with concern and confusion, but I continued. “Here’s what I’ve learned: give generously, but don’t let yourself be taken advantage of. Love deeply, but don’t allow yourself to be mistreated. Trust others, but don’t be naive. Listen to people, but never lose your voice. If someone genuinely cares about you, it would hurt them to know they’ve caused you pain. Everyone makes mistakes, but if you tell someone they’ve hurt you and they respond by gaslighting, deflecting, lying, or manipulating, that’s not love—it’s ego. They’re more worried about being criticized, judged, or looking bad than about your feelings. You challenge their self-image, so they get defensive. In their minds, you insulted them. They don’t care about your feelings; they’re angry you called them out. Call them out anyway.”

Tears streamed down my face, but I didn’t stop. “You are incredibly talented and have an impressive presence. Your intelligence is remarkable, and you’re always eager to learn more. You’re very straightforward and always speak your mind, and I believe that honesty is crucial, even when the truth can be painful. That’s why I need to be honest with you now: your biggest flaw is that you can be too critical and demanding. You often deliver your critiques at the worst possible moments. You resist modern changes and prefer traditional methods, and I have to say, your attitude can be quite unpleasant, and your sarcasm often goes too far, despite the mask you’ve tried to wear these past weeks.”

I took a deep, shuddering breath. “Your life is shaped by the choices you make. If you want different outcomes, you need to make different decisions. However, it’s crucial to remember that your success should never come at someone’s expense. True success is built on your own merits and efforts, not by stepping on others or using them for personal gain. Integrity and respect for others are fundamental, and achieving your goals should never involve undermining someone else.”

Jay stood there, stunned into silence. The weight of my words hung heavily in the air between us, punctuated only by the soft sound of rain falling around us. His eyes, wide with a mix of shock and something else I couldn’t quite decipher, stayed locked on mine, but I couldn’t bear to hold his gaze any longer.

The rain started to fall harder, each drop feeling like a tiny pinprick against my skin, mirroring the pain and confusion swirling inside me. I turned away from him, feeling the weight of my decision in every step. The cab was a sanctuary from the storm both outside and within me, and I moved towards it with a sense of urgency.

I opened the cab door, hesitating for a moment as if hoping for some last-minute resolution or understanding. But there was nothing but the sound of the rain and the distant murmur of the wedding festivities. I climbed inside, my dress damp and clinging uncomfortably to my legs, the leather seat cold against my back.

As the door closed behind me, I felt a mix of relief and sorrow wash over me. Relief that I had finally voiced my feelings and set my boundaries, and sorrow for the loss of what I had hoped could be. The cab pulled away from the venue, the lights of the wedding growing dimmer and the reality of my decision setting in. The journey home was quiet, the rhythmic pattern of rain against the windows accompanying my thoughts. I replayed the evening’s events in my mind, from the joy of dancing with Jay to the crushing realization of overheard conversations. I knew I had done what I needed to do for my well-being, but that didn’t make the pain any easier to bear. As the cab navigated through the city streets, I looked out at the blur of lights and people, feeling a deep sense of loneliness. The night had been a rollercoaster of emotions, and now, with the adrenaline fading, the exhaustion and heartache settled in. I leaned back in my seat, closed my eyes, and deeply breathed. I had made my choice, and now it was time to face the consequences and move forward.

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