Dear Carolyn: My family had a mom/daughter group chat established to stay in touch. This became political during the Trump administration. Half our family supported Trump and the other half did not. During the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests and tear-gassing of protesters, I asked family not to look away, as this was too important for our country. My sister decided to exit the group. She later started a new family group and left me out. The rest of the group consists of our daughters and daughters-in-law.

I am very hurt by this. It went on for months and no one mentioned to me they established a new group without me.

My daughter shares many nonpolitical interests with her aunt, such as clothing and home decor, whereas I do not. I did enjoy being part of the group, though, and hearing what each person had going on in their lives. I feel ostracized and punished.

My sister rationalizes that she doesn’t blame me for her need to leave the group. She just did what was best for her. I am left feeling cold and wanting no further relationship with her.

— Hurt

Hurt: That’s your prerogative, just as it was your sister’s to launch a Middle School Nostalgia Tour and box you out of the lunch table.

Of course this was hurtful. Exclusion always is, unless the inclusion in question is in something so awful or inconsequential that being left out is either to your great relief or meaningless.

I won’t say that’s the case here — family chatter is meaningful indeed — but I think you can use that general idea to blunt the effect of your sister’s actions: If you are excluded from the family chat, then that’s big. If you arrange it so you are excluded from one family chat of an ever-changing multitude, then that can become a trifle. Right?

So I suggest you square up and decide which people you’d like to discuss X, Y or Z with, and start a group chat with each. Even that sister. Group chat the whole incident down to size.

Maybe don’t fire off these attempts all at once, lest you raise suspicions that you have sudden and unfortunate tonnages of free time on your hands. And maybe save politics for political forums vs. social. Ahem.

But do think long range about using your sister’s petty snub to take more ownership of your own needs to connect, beyond just group chats, too. Do what is best for you, non-petty-style.

As for your sister, I’ll offer something I advise a lot: You want “no further relationship with her,” which is a never/ever/forever kind of declaration. But even if that’s true, estrangement doesn’t involve just one decision that’s binding eternally; as long as you both live, you will wake up every day with a new opportunity to try to reconcile. Therefore, estrangement is a choice you’d make today and then renew every day after that.

That, in turn, means you could view this differently — as a matter of not wanting to engage with your sister right now, a decision built with a lower psychic profile. From there you can renew daily, or — with the benefit of grace, time, and mass fatigue with this unhinged and costly uncivil war — wake up ready to get back in touch.