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Eat Pray Love author pens beautiful essay on the moment she fell in love with her best friend

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Kayleigh Dray
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The bestselling author of Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert, has penned an emotional Facebook post about the moment she realised she was in love with her terminally-ill best friend, Syrian-born author Rayya Elias.

Speaking from the heart, she wrote: “Many of you already know who Rayya Elias is to me. She's my best friend, yes, but it's always been bigger than that. She's my role model, my traveling companion, my most reliable source of light, my fortitude, my most trusted confidante.

“In short, she is my PERSON.”

Gilbert, assuming her feelings were nothing more than those of a woman for her best friend, explained that she had always been devoted to Elias over the years.

But, when Elias was diagnosed with incurable pancreatic and liver cancer earlier this year, Gilbert found that a “trap door opened at the bottom of my heart” – and she finally realised what Elias truly meant to her.



“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,” she explained.

“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.”

Unsure what to do, Gilbert thought about everything her best friend had taught her over the years – and decided to follow in Elias’ footsteps: she decided to speak the truth aloud.

It resulted in the end of her marriage to her husband, Jose Nunes, who she met while travelling and writing her memoir Eat, Pray, Love (and who features in two of her books).  



“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,” she said.

“[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.”

Gilbert added that she decided to reveal the truth about her same-sex romantic relationship because she wanted to stop pretending.

“Pretending is demeaning,” she said. “It makes you weak and confused… [and] I need to live my life in truth and transparency, even more than I need privacy, or good publicity, or prudence, or other people’s approval or understanding, or just about anything else.”

In response to her confession, she asked her fans and followers for nothing more than their love.

“Whatever extra love you might be carrying around in your hearts right now, could you direct some this way? I would appreciate it so much, and — trust me — it will be felt. And it will help.

“We will resonate with it, and we will thank you for it. Because truth is the force that guides us to where we need to be in life, but love is the power that heals us once we arrive there.”

You can read her full Facebook post below: 

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is editor of Stylist.co.uk, where she chases after rogue apostrophes and specialises in films, comic books, feminism and television. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends. 

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