Interacting with toxic people is a little like playing Emotional Russian Roulette. By that I mean that you never know which version of the person will be on the other side of the door.
I remember one night when my partner and I were having some really serious conversation about our future. Really talking about our dreams and plans. Half way through I said: Oh, let me just pop upstairs to my sister’s place. I need the car tomorrow. My sister and I lived in the same high rise at the time, and we shared the car.
When I ran the doorbell, my sister opened the door (I had the keys, but I did not like to use them when she was home). Hey, I am here for the keys, I said. She grabbed the keys and handed them to me. I think she commented that I was a little late, or just asked what I was doing… I can’t remember now. Either way, I mentioned the conversation I had just left. No details, just: we’re talking about what we want for our future, what our next actions should be.
Right there, her whole demeanor changed. PLEASE DO NOT TELL ME YOU ARE MOVING AWAY AGAIN, she snarled. The tone of her voice was such that I remember that all I could do was bite back the tears. Err, maybe, I responded. She kept digging into me some more, until I excused myself and headed back down with the keys in my hand.
By the time I got to our apartment I was weeping. It had been so unexpected and vicious.
To this day, I do not know how she even guessed that we had been talking about moving away. I also do not understand why moving away is such an offensive act. Mind you, when we eventually did move away my sisters were so angry about it that they felt unable to even email us anymore (except that one time when they were looking for money).
The point here is that there is no accounting for the emotional shifts in toxic people. They can go from 0 to 100 in a fraction of a second! You never know who will open the door, but neither do you know if that is the only person you are dealing with today.