Social media was all in a tither yesterday in response to Liz Gilbert’s announcement on Facebook that she is in love with her best friend Rayya Elias.
It showed up in my news feed more times than I can count, shared from friends and many pages I follow, usually with a comment of “brave” or “love is love” or words to that effect.
I read Liz’s post regarding her love for her best friend with interest, as I follow her on Facebook and enjoy her updates. I was gifted Eat Pray Love in 2008 by a friend and enjoyed it, for the most part, as it struck a chord with me when I was in a place that I desperately needed to leave my marriage for many reasons, and I’ve written previously about that here. Eat Pray Love wasn’t perfect and it had it’s moments that did my head in, but the tone and theme of her life and choices resonated with me at the time.
I had also read her post a few months back announcing her separation from Jose and in her writing yesterday, she clarified that her love for Rayya was the reason for this split.
What I found most interesting throughout yesterday on Facebook though, was the usual comments, praise, admiration, opinions, experts, critics, and everything in between from supporters and holier than thou’s that appeared in response to her announcement.
Here are a just a small handful that that illustrate the most commonly held theme from those that didn’t share the most widely expressed sentiments of bravery and love:
“I’m not sure how EG can even write words like “integrity” and “compassion” anymore and take herself seriously. She is a thief of hearts whose only loyalty seems to be to her self, and she seems to call this courage. Best wishes to Rayya. May peace be with her, and may EG find the strength and humility to honor her commitments moving forward in this life and beyond.”
“Well said, I believe EG is a well rewarded narcissist.”
“I agree we all fall short and I am no exception. And yet I do not engage in profiteering from hypocrisy. One should be mindful about what they are selling to souls seeking places of peace, comfort, and community. This is something EG seems to overlook for the sake of soothing her own suffering.”
“Because her “truths” repeatedly destroy the lives of people she has “committed” to loving for a lifetime, and she profits from the path of destruction. Rest assured there will be a book about this one, too.”
“It’s easy to love someone new, it’s harder to commit to the day in day out. Seems like she upgrades every so often. Not impressed. Is this was a new man would everyone be singing her praises?”
Many people have referred to LG over the years as a narcissist, but let’s face it, most of us are not in a professional capacity to make this diagnosis, and narcissist is a word that is too easily thrown around in my humble opinion. I personally find some of her writing totally self indulgent, and don’t get me started on the follow up book to Eat Pray Love – Committed, but diagnosing and name calling just because we don’t agree or like something someone has done or written goes too far for me. As an aside, as I write my memoir on my year in Ghana my reference point for my whinging, complaining and self involvement is always “do I sound a bit too much like LG in the India bit of Eat Pray Love?”.
As an artist, one is equally open to praise and criticism and that is part of the joy and the pain of putting ourselves out there, open and raw for the world to see. We take risks, we feel warm and fuzzy when the praise comes and hurt and wounded when criticised.
Is Liz the only person to ever leave a marriage? Is she the only person to leave more than one marriage or leave a relationship to pursue love for another person? Hardly. Is she the first person in the world to write about it? Is she the first person ever to break another’s heart. No, and she will most definitely not be the last.
The difference between LG and the rest of the world, as with all artists, is that she speaks about it. She has opened her heart, her life and her world to all of us, like it or not. That is what an artist does. Whether on a canvas, a sculpture, or a piece of writing, they open up the most often hidden, unspoken, the most awkward, uncomfortable, terrifying and painful parts of themselves for the rest of the world to see. Artists share their highs and lows, pain and joy and everything in between. That is what art is. Art is life and life is art and why shouldn’t she be allowed to make decisions based on her heart’s greatest desires?
I left a 28 year relationship and nobody condemned me. Actually there were probably a few people, but I didn’t hear about it. I left for me, for my heart, my soul, my body and my mind. Sure I could have stayed, and denied my right to freedom and happiness but I chose love. Love of self. There were no other hearts involved in my decision, just the one that mattered most. Mine.
I personally feel she showed great courage and vulnerability in sharing her story. She has my utmost admiration for that.
Like her or hate her, one thing is for certain, Liz speaks her truth, shares her heart and lives her love for the whole world to see.