My Dearest Elizabeth & Rayya,
When I first read the story of your love, of your relationship, I judged you. Not because you’re both women, to that I pay no mind. But because Elizabeth was married. Because she hurt at least one other person, to be with another person. Vows, and promises, and all that we’re supposed to hold sacred. I actually thought you were given a pass BECAUSE you’re both women. I thought if Elizabeth had declared her love for another man, she’d have been labeled a cheating whore, at best. But because it was another woman she fell (or realized she was) in love with, a woman with terminal cancer no less, passes were given.
But not by me. I judged. Because I am after all, perfect. Especially where love is concerned. In particular at that point in my life, where I was very much in the depths of being a hot fucking mess, clutching the pieces of my (repeatedly) shattered heart, because my (abusive, cheating) then husband, had a side piece. Again. But there I was busy being all perfect, and judgey, about you, your love, and your relationship. You, meanwhile, were busy living your lives, and sharing love. Clearly I had the upper hand in things.
Maybe I should have prefaced the formal announcement of my judginess with words about how you, Elizabeth, were a hero of sorts to me. When I read “Eat, Pray, Love” (the first of a thousand times) all I could think was “woah, I want to be as cool, and courageous, as her.” Beside the fact that you were writing as a profession, and funny, interesting, easy to read, but with real depth, writing, and traveling while doing the writing, you were also eating ALL the yumminess in Italy. Then being all one with Shiva, and Shakti or Ganesh or whomever, in India (OK, it took a minute for you to get there… I know! But you got there!) Then you went to Bali, and for hells sake, its Bali!! But also, love happened then. Oh how I wanted to be you! Also too, JULIA FUCKING ROBERTS played you in the movie based on your life, and book!! Amazing!
I don’t remember how long after EPL, came your book “Committed.” Such a different tone, but I marveled at the depth of it. All of the research you did, not just in books, but experientially, and conversationally, whatever it took to help you get to your personal truth, to walk through your biggest fears, and to deal with the curve ball life had thrown you, was amazing. Again, while writing, while traveling, while loving, and being loved.
Some of what you’d found in your research really dug deep in me, taught me history and traditions I’d never heard of. Also, it got me thinking about my personal truths around relationships. I’m a weirdo who digs learning, and thinking, and introspection. Your books brought me all those things because you’re cool! And then you got married to your Bali love. YAY!! Could I just BE you already?
By this point my then marriage had absolutely fallen apart, to put it mildly. Not that I was getting divorced. Oh hell no. My marriage was a horse that I was bound, and determined to beat to DEATH. Then give it CPR to bring it back. Then beat it to death, again. More than ever, I wanted to be you. Eating, and Praying, and Loving, and traveling, and writing.
September 2016 when you posted about no longer apologizing for your feelings, a month after I’d found out about my then husband’s (newest) side piece, and having either not come forward yet about the abuse in my marriage, or having done so only to a couple of people, when I read about you, and Rayya, and your divorcing to be with her, I was disappointed in you young lady! I was angry. I felt betrayed. How dare my heroine fall from the pedestal upon which she’d never chosen to sit. The pedestal where I’d placed her, and love, and commitment.
I a little bit broke up with you then. Not the way I broke up with Shonda Rhimes when she killed off McDreamy, and I refused then, and now, to watch her shows. I still buy your books. But a little bit, we stopped being a thing then, you and I. I’m sure you felt it. I’m sure you being a public figure with a huge following, in a new love, with a woman with terminal cancer, and very full life in general, felt my disapproval from where I live in central Jersey.
I don’t know when it happened exactly, and I definitely don’t know how, or what might have been the events leading to it, but, sometime in October, I, to quote you Elizabeth, got tired of my own bullshit. Or at least started to. It didn’t have to do with the 2 of you. I’m not really sure what it had to do with. Maybe I got bored of spinning around on the nail in my foot. I’ve figured out that I have to stop trying to figure out what it was that caused the shift for me, but, a shift there was. I started to let go of my pain, and to remember to love myself again. And that I was (am) worth loving.
But it was in early November when the change really happened. When I opened myself, to myself, remembered who I am, what I believe, what I feel, and let go of a lot of crap that had been weighing me down for more years than I care to admit. Through a series of events, and choices, and some REALLY unexpected gorgeousness, my thoughts were, at least in part, turned to love. And when I say love, I mean, LOVE. Big, huge, glorious, take your breath away while breathing life into you, LOVE. Self love. Love for others. Friendship love. Global love. Just, love. Which brought me back around to the 2 of you, and your LOVE, and your relationship. And how I’d been Judgey McJudgerson about it, and was wrong for having been.
In moving away from the bat shit crazy woman I’d become in the last few years of my marriage, and closer to the me I’ve always really been, I remembered that, beside the fact that how you live your life is none of my business, love is what is most important. YES, there was at least one person who was no doubt hurt as a result of your having realized your love, your IN LOVE, for Rayya, but had you chosen to stay with him, instead of allowing your love for her be known, you wouldn’t have loved her any less. You wouldn’t have been living as your “authentic self” which is a buzz phrase I hate, but suited to this moment. It likely would have affected him in negative ways, too.
Also, sometimes love comes from very unexpected places, with timing and circumstances you’d never have dreamed possible. When that love becomes in love, as yours did, I can just imagine how overwhelmingly beautiful that feels. How right, real, and meant to be. How impossible to deny. Especially when you know time is short.
I don’t think there was a right or wrong choice in your situation, because to each his or her own, but I think you, Elizabeth, made a choice that was brave as fuck. You knew there would be people like me, who judged you. Some people who judged you were probably publicly mean, and terrible to you about it. (As opposed to me just silently shunning you, from a distance.) Because you live your life in the public eye, and because you wrote the book on your love, and marriage, well, I can’t even imagine what might have been the mental process for you. The emotional process.
In leaving your marriage you likely left what was comfort, and security, and love, for a love larger than all of that. And to have whatever time you are able to, with Rayya, out loud, in public because your life sort of demands it, and unapologetically, because your love just IS.
When I read 2 days ago of the ceremony you had to celebrate your love, and understanding that you probably don’t know how much time Rayya has left here, the words “does sometimes love come too late” crossed my mind. I immediately answered my own question with, shut up Michelle, because it’s never too late for love.
Then I got sad for a minute, knowing your time is relatively short. But that’s sort of silly because you may not have as much time together here as you would like to have, but you have an IN LOVE that many people don’t EVER have. An IN LOVE that I hope to be lucky enough to myself know in this lifetime. And really, that’s the antithesis of sad.
I’m sure you, Elizabeth, want to know, are BURNING to know, that we’re back to being a thing now. I mean, I know you’re all in love with Rayya, and we’ve never actually met, and I don’t mean it “that way” anyway. But you are a heroine of mine, again. A really human, really “normal”, really just taking life as it comes, and working on your stuff so you can make your way through it as best possible, heroine. You’re brave, and honest, and courageous. I can only hope that I am as gracious, and graceful, and just damn funny, as you, if the really difficult stuff comes my way again.
I thank you for all the valuable lessons you’ve taught to me, all you’ve helped me to learn, how you’ve helped me to take a deeper look at myself, a deeper look at love, simply by being you, and living your truth. Thank you for reminding me that love is love is love, and helping to reopen my heart to it, no matter what it looks like. No matter if the timing is “off”, and the situation not what would be called ideal.
To you, and your brilliant Rayya, I’m sorry I judged. I send my love, my light, and my hopes that you get as much time as possible, and then some, together, to share your in love, in this time, and place.
And to Rayya, I can’t begin to know what you in particular are feeling right now. But I’m so happy for you that you have this love to hold you when you need it most. May angels, or whatever comforts you most, wrap themselves around you, now and always.
All my Love,
Michelle from 8A off the turnpike
As a very important PS to anyone who may read this: Please don’t read into what I’ve written. IF you think this is about you, directed toward you, referencing you, unless you’re Elizabeth, Rayya, my ex-husband, (who I’m loathe to mention because my past is really behind me, and its just a history lesson now, but is indeed part of the history of me) or me, its none of those. Although I did sort of quote a (beloved) someone, if you read this, you’ll know that one thing is you. And also the other thing you played a part in. But other than that, this isn’t about anyone else’s lives.
Please don’t think I mean its OK to bang random people if you’re married or in a committed relationship. Random sex isn’t IN LOVE. I mean, if you want to do that, its not my life, just don’t think that I’m all “woo hoo” about it. (As if my opinion matters.) Please also don’t think I feel that one should be keeping their eyes open for greener pastures. Or other pastures. But sometimes pastures make their way to you, or you’ll accidentally come across one. Also, if one finds new love, but chooses to stay with known love, that is their business, their right, their life. Same same with choosing new love.
To anyone who doesn’t know who Elizabeth and Rayya are, and want to, links below to Elizabeth’s Facebook page.
And also, to quote Ed Sheeran
“…People fall in love in mysterious ways. Maybe its all part of a plan…”