Thanks to Katrina, Joonie and insanelybusymama. I think you were all on the money with your advice, and had planned to follow it as soon as M went down for her nap. But the plot has thickened, and now? Well, now I'm mad.
Went to the park with a few friends this morning, both members of our playgroup. FWIW, both were offended by the original email that I responded to, starting this whole mess. One of them had sent her own semi-sarcastic email to C (for "crazy lady," since I'm mad now), asking why she wasn't coming to the event anymore, and C gave her a brief account of what had happened. We hashed it out a little bit, and agreed that I needed to be the one to make a conciliatory step.
But then, I got home and found an email from C. She basically said she was hurt that I'd attack her and "put her in her place" the one time (HA!) she tried to express an opinion, and then went on and on about how she's often offended by things people say to her in playgroup but she never expresses an opinion (again, HA!) and how she feels like now, she's afraid to say anything at all. Peppering the email were phrases in quotation marks (such as "put her in her place"), ostensibly from my emails, but that I never actually said. She also attacked me for the one conciliatory gesture I did make -- I'd said in a reply email that I hoped she'd change her mind about attending the event and said "[her kid] is a a great kid, and I'd hate to think of her missing a party with her friends just because you and I seem to be having a disagreement." (yes, that is a direct quote). C responded by listing all of the other activities her kid does, and said that "for you to imply that I'm in any way harming her is again,
just the pinnacle of condescending, and I'd like for you never to open
your mouth about her again."
I think I could have dealt with all of this, and gone on with my original plan of eating crow and apologizing in order to get her back in the group. But there's more: C didn't send the email just to me. She cc'd two other members of the group; one the woman I was at the park with this morning and another who had also inquired as to why she backed out of the event. As far as she knows, neither of these women has any idea what happened between me and her, nor do they have any idea that she sent me a vicious, hurtful email castigating me for just about everything I do or believe (and some things I don't!). And yet, she felt comfortable making public a private issue between me and her, complete with misquotes and misleading attacks.
As it happens, both women do have a pretty good idea of what went down, so I can't exactly play the retiring victim here. But still, now I'm well and truly angry. Forget conciliation. It's taking every ounce of my self control not to (at the very least) school her on the proper use of quotation marks, and then forward all of the emails to the other two women she's chosen to involve, so they can at least have the whole truth.
It's safe to say that I won't be replying in any manner for at least several hours. I still really need to cool down. But it sure is hard to find the high road when that mud puddle over there looks so tempting...
Ok, it's about an hour later. One of the friends to whom C sent her email clued me into something I hadn't known. C has a mental illness, she's in the middle of a manic episode now and is having a really tough time. That understanding nudged my compassion enough to produce a (sincere) apology to her for sending that first email and for hurting her (though clearly I still lack the maturity to delete the rest of this post). She replied with an apologetic email of her own. I hope this ends the issue.