Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert revealed in a Facebook post that she and her best friend of 15 years, Rayya Elias, are in a relationship. About two months ago, Gilbert announced that she and her husband José Nunes (aka Felipe in the book) are splitting up. So it looks like she is not dropping the 'love' from Eat, Pray, Love completely— she is just going on another soul-searching, novel-worthy journey in pursuit of it.
Gilbert realized that she was in love after Elias was diagnosed with incurable pancreatic and liver cancer. Already, this needs to be a book-turned-major-motion-picture starring Julia Roberts.
In the moment I first learned of Rayya's diagnosis, a trap door opened at the bottom of my heart (a trap door I didn't even know was there) and my entire existence fell straight through that door. From that moment forward, everything became about HER. I cancelled everything in my life that could be cancelled, and I went straight to her side, where I have been ever since.
Gilbert said that she wants to be honest about her relationship with Rayya, and no longer wants to pretend that the two women are nothing more than close friends. Given Rayya's diagnosis, Gilbert decided it would be best for her "integrity and sanity" to stop pretending that the two weren't romantically involved, and to spend whatever time they have together being out and proud girlfriends.
But something happened to my heart and mind in the days and weeks following Rayya's diagnosis. Death — or the prospect of death — has a way of clearing away everything that is not real, and in that space of stark and utter realness, I was faced with this truth: I do not merely love Rayya; I am in love with Rayya. And I have no more time for denying that truth. The thought of someday sitting in a hospital room with her, holding her hand and watching her slide away, without ever having let her (or myself!) know the extent of my true feelings for her...well, that thought was unthinkable.
Here is the thing about truth: Once you see it, you cannot un-see it. So that truth, once it came to my heart's attention, could not be ignored.
Gilbert goes on to explain that her budding relationship with her best friend is the reason why she is getting a divorce.
For those of you who are doing the math here, and who are wondering if this situation is why my marriage came to an end this spring, the simple answer is yes. (Please understand that I cannot say anything more about it than that. I trust you are all sensitive enough to understand how difficult this has been. As David Foster Wallace once wrote: "The truth will set you free — but not until it's had its way with you." Yes, it has been hard. Yes, the truth has had its way with us. And yes, the truth still stands.)
So. Here is where we stand now: Rayya and I are together. I love her, and she loves me. I'm walking through this cancer journey with her, not only as her friend, but as her partner. I am exactly where I need to be — the only place I can be.
So far, the women have largely been met with messages of love, acceptance and tolerance. To read Gilbert's post in full, (warning: it is a novel! Sorry, stupid joke) check it out here.