"There is something I wish to tell you today — something which I hope and trust you will receive with grace," Gilbert wrote in a heartfelt Facebook post titled Me & Rayya. "This spring, I received news that would change my life forever. My best friend, Rayya Elias, was diagnosed with pancreatic and liver cancer — a disease for which there is no cure."
Gilbert, 47, goes on to explain that she's been by Rayya's side ever since her diagnosis and in the process has come to terms with a variety of emotions.
"She's my best friend, yes, but it's always been bigger than that," she explained. "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."
"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," Gilbert revealed.
In July, Gilbert and her husband, José Nunes, announced they were separating.
"I am separating from the man whom many of you know as 'Felipe' — the man whom I fell in love with at the end of the EAT, PRAY, LOVE journey," she revealed on Facebook. "He has been my dear companion for over 12 years, and they have been wonderful years. Our split is very amicable. Our reasons are very personal."
She now admits that her feelings for Rayya led to the split. "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 wrote. "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."
Gilbert concluded her Facebook post on Wednesday by asking her fans for their support.
"Whatever extra love you might be carrying around in your hearts right now, could you direct some this way?" she wrote. "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."
She later posted a photo of herself and Rayya on Twitter. "Thank you for the love, everyone," she captioned the photo. "Thank you. Thank you. Thank you."
Julia Roberts starred as Gilbert in the 2010 film adaptation of the book, which was directed by Ryan Murphy.