Once in Junior High, I had to break up with a friend. I loved my friend with my whole heart - she was funny and pretty, and I loved our conversations.
One day, I realized that I was starting to get angry with her. It seemed as though I loved her a bit more than she loved me. She didn't invite me to her parties unless I pouted, and it seemed when I walked up to her in a group of friends there would be a lot of eye rolling and whispers.
It hurt. I decided to not be her friend. I decided to spend time with the people who made room for me at their lunch table. I made room in my life for the girls who smiled when I smiled at them. There was no eye rolling.
I never made a scene - I just quietly went my own way.
Another time, a friend decided to let me go - she went quietly too. One day in class, she stopped speaking to me and would walk away when I approached her. Ouch - that hurt. I wondered long and hard if I had done something to upset her - was I rude? Did she think I was talking behind her back? Finally, I gave up and moved on.
Of course, this was junior high and these girls grew up to be mature, fabulous women who do good things in the world. At the time, I protected my heart and moved on from my friendships to find later that the qualities of these women improved with age as my qualities have improved with age. (hopefully)
And even now, there are friends I let slip through my hands. I know that my family's health crisis isn't the worst thing that has happened to anyone, but it is the hardest thing that has happened to me. I've had some friends leave me or not return my calls as I've reached out to them. It's very lonely and surprising. Just like junior high, I found many other glorious friends who return my smiles and reach out to support me during my current struggles.
I see my daughters go through the same pain, and I tell them the stories of me letting those friends go. I know it breaks their hearts to have someone they admire not return the affection, but we must protect our hearts - even if, it's just a little bit.