Elizabeth Gilbert explains how she fell in love with best friend

The author of Eat, Pray, Love tells readers about her love for Rayya Elias

Elizabeth Gilbert, the bestselling author of Eat, Pray, Love, has shared a new chapter with readers.

In an intimate Facebook post, the writer and podcaster revealed she is in a relationship with her best friend. “There is something I wish to tell you today,” the entry begins. “Something which I hope and trust you will receive with grace.”

Who is Rayya Elias? Here is how the author and musician introduces herself on her website: “I’m a Syrian, ex-junkie, glamour butch lesbian. I’m a hair-bending, punk rock musician.”

Who is she to Gilbert? “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.”

Earlier this year Gilbert announced she was parting with her husband. In her message to readers yesterday, Gilbert explained that her heart shifted when Elias was diagnosed with cancer. “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.”

Knowing the truth, Gilbert says, required her to speak it. “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.”

In a response on Facebook, Australian writer Pip Cummings told Gilbert she had already guessed at the news: “As much as one can … which is to say, your extremely special love bond was evident even a couple of years ago, and such a pleasure to write about.”

“Theirs is a kind of intimacy only found in female friendships and, even then, not always,” Cummings wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald in February 2015.

Here is how Gilbert described the relationship at the time: “It’s not your sister, it’s not your lover, it’s not your BFF. There isn’t really an identifier for it.”

To this, Elias added: “I know it sounds like a love story and it totally is.”

Fast forward to September 2016. “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.”

For the record, here’s Gilbert’s post, plus a sample of how the news was received: