(I realize this is sort of related to this
previous question of mine, but because this particular situation is new, I was hoping for slightly more tailored advice if possible.)
I'm looking for advice on how to let friends know when they've hurt your feelings, without losing the friendship. I know that a good friend shouldn't dump you just because you call them out, if someone doesn't care then they aren't really your friend anyway, blah blah blah. I know the problem is really with me, because I can't seem to call friends on their behavior. Deep inside I think I'm afraid they'll respond back with something hurtful, or they'll decide being my friend isn't worth the trouble, or something like that. I feel afraid that the outcome of confronting someone will be even more painful, so then I keep it bottled inside and just feel awful.
The specific situation I'm upset about right now is this: Back in January, I asked a friend of mine to come with me to a special event (my husband's college singing group's 20th anniversary concert, and the festivities before and after). This is a friend I've recently become reconnected with, after almost 10 years of not speaking. We'd had a terrible fight just before college graduation, and didn't talk afterward until I reached out through a social networking site a couple of years ago. Since then we've been in pretty frequent communication and hung out a few times, and have always had a lot of fun. I have closer friends I could have asked to this event, but I chose this particular person because I thought she'd enjoy the music as well as the "scene" (barhopping before and after, maybe a party). She accepted the invitation and we've talked about it occasionally since then. She's aware this is an important occasion for me, and is also aware that it would be just the two of us going to the show together, since my husband is going early to rehearse.
She and I have been emailing back and forth over the past week or two to nail down the timeline of the evening somewhat (I'd arranged for a car and driver so we wouldn't have to worry about being drunk or tired at the end of the night). Tonight, she emails me and tells me she appreciates the arrangements I've made but that she "won't be able to make it this time due to the other stuff going on that night/weekend." I'm probably more upset about this than I should be, but frankly, I am really upset. I'm hurt that she knows this is important to me but isn't willing to make an effort to be there, I'm hurt that (I suspect) she's been intending to back out for longer than she's let on, and I'm hurt that I may not have another friend who can go, since, like me, most of my friends are new moms, or else just aren't into this kind of scene.
I'd like to tell this friend how I feel, but I know from our old history that she's very sensitive to being pressured or feeling over-extended. If someone asks too much of her, she tends to pull away. I know I shouldn't care, but I'd like to not lose what's otherwise a fun friend to converse with (we don't see each other much, since we live about an hour away and have different friends). Also, the statement above was contained in a long email about lots of insignificant things, and I feel like my response doesn't need to be buried amongst a bunch of silly stuff, yet if I ignore 90% of her email and just call her out, I sort of feel like that's ruder than I want to be and that future communication will be more awkward.
I know this probably sounds stupid to the vast majority of you who are more socially well-adjusted than I am, but any advice on approaching difficult conversations like these is appreciated. (Also, this definitely isn't the only situation in which I've felt like this, or the only person I've felt it toward, but part of a larger problem of not being able to hold friends to any kind of accountability.) Thanks so much.