By Samantha Cooney
September 7, 2016
MOTTO
Samantha Cooney is the content strategy editor at TIME.

Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of the bestselling book Eat, Pray, Love, says she’s in love with her female best friend, Syrian author Rayya Elias.

Gilbert, who announced her breakup with her husband in July, explained in a Facebook post on Wednesday that she decided to leave her marriage after learning that Elias was diagnosed with pancreatic and liver cancer in the spring. Gilbert and Elias have been friends for over 15 years, frequently appearing together at events and supporting each other’s work publicly.

“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,” Gilbert wrote in the post. “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.”

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Gilbert said that she decided to announce her relationship publicly so she can both support Elias through her cancer battle and live her life authentically.

“I need to be able to walk into any room in the world with Rayya on my arm, feeling relaxed enough to stand comfortably in simple openness about who we actually are to each other. If I can’t be my true self (whether at home in privacy, or out there in the world in public) then things will very quickly get messy and weird and stupid in my life,” Gilbert said. “Trust me: We will not be wasting a moment of our time together, for as much time as we are given.”

Gilbert thanked fans for their support in a tweet later on Wednesday, sharing a picture of her and Elias.

Read Gilbert’s full Facebook post below:

 

 

Write to Samantha Cooney at samantha.cooney@time.com.

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