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'My paramedic husband saved my friend's life. Then she became obsessed with him.'

As told to Ann DeGrey

We all love hearing stories about somebody’s life being saved, the kind of stories you only read about in books or see on the news. When my husband Andy*, a paramedic, saved my best friend from drowning, it seemed like a scene out of a movie. Little did I know, it was the start of a real-life drama that would shatter a lifelong friendship.

Sarah* and I had been friends for 15 years after meeting through our boyfriends at the time. She was really like a sister to me; we shared everything from childhood secrets to wedding day jitters and motherhood problems. I really thought we’d be friends forever but now I just cringe whenever I hear her name.

It all started on a sunny Saturday afternoon. Sarah and her kids joined my family for a picnic at the beach. She’d gone through a messy divorce a few years ago and I tried to include her in family outings every now and then. 

Sarah had gone for a swim on her own and, after a while, my daughter noticed she was struggling in the surf – her head kept disappearing underwater.

Andy* was trained for emergencies like this and he didn't hesitate. He sprang into action, diving into the water and pulling Sarah to safety. She had passed out, and he carried out CPR and had her breathing again. It really felt like a miracle. What if my daughter hadn’t noticed her? Sarah would have drowned. But instead, thanks to Andy, Sarah was okay, and we were all so relieved. My husband was everyone’s hero.

In the days following the incident, Sarah was very grateful. She couldn't stop thanking Andy and she sent a card and flowers to our house. At first, I was happy to see her so appreciative. But soon, her gratitude began to morph into something quite unsettling.

Watch: Unsolicited advice is a sign of a toxic friendship. Post continues after video.

Video via YouTube/TEDx Talks.

It started with frequent messages. Sarah would text Andy at all hours, asking how he was, sharing her day, or just sending a simple thank you. It didn’t seem too odd initially, considering the life-saving bond they now shared. But then, the texts became more frequent and personal. She'd ask Andy about his work, his thoughts on various topics, like politics and even his opinions on Netflix movies she was watching.

Andy is a very polite and kind-hearted man, so he always responds nicely. He assured me it was harmless, just a friend showing appreciation. But deep down, I started feeling uneasy.

Then came the gifts. Small tokens at first—homemade cupcakes, thank you cards, a new book she thought he’d like. Each gift was accompanied by a note, always with a reference to how grateful she was. I tried to brush it off as being completely normal, but there was a feeling of discomfort whenever her gifts arrived. She’d call him at odd hours, sometimes claiming to have a medical question, other times just wanting to chat.

She even showed up at his workplace with lunch, saying she was just passing by. Sarah started following him on social media, liking and commenting on every post. She'd send him articles and videos, asking for his opinion, trying every avenue to keep the connection alive. It was relentless, and it became clear that she was obsessed with him.

It all came to a head one evening when Andy received a rather extravagant present—an Apple watch. I couldn't hold back any longer. I confronted him, asking if there was anything going on. I was starting to worry that they were having an affair.

But, Andy reassured me, there was absolutely nothing going on but he was worried Sarah was becoming increasingly obsessed with him. Andy decided to have a talk with Sarah to set some boundaries.

Listen to Fill My Cup where Allira is joined by a Clinical Psychologist to shed light on why we people please, how to set better boundaries and reminds us why we need to look out for our own needs. Post continues after video.

But Sarah didn’t take it well. She called me the next day, accusing me of being jealous and paranoid, and of trying to control Andy. I was stunned. I explained my side, but she wouldn’t listen.

From that day on, Sarah stopped talking to me, and her messages to Andy became less friendly and more desperate. She even showed up at the house when she knew I wouldn’t be there, trying to catch him alone. 

Our once unbreakable friendship was over. Sarah’s fixation and the resulting stress really took its toll. Andy had to be firm with her, explaining that her behaviour was inappropriate and needed to stop. She didn’t take it well and cut off all contact with us.

Losing a friend, especially one who was like a sister, was very painful for me. I never imagined that a heroic act would lead to such a heartbreaking end. It was a very upsetting lesson about putting my relationship first and letting a friend go.

*Names have been changed due to privacy.

The author of this story is known to Mamamia but has chosen to remain anonymous for privacy reasons.

Feature image: Canva.

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