Do we hold female leaders to extreme standards?

Eat, Pray, Love was the book that put Elizabeth Gilbert on the map as an international writer. This book turned-movie took us through Italy, India and Indonesia in a post-divorce story of a soul searching journey and self-redemption. I remember reading the book and almost crying at some points because I saw a woman go from very low to very high-  finding love in the most peculiar of places. There is some Disney-ish allusion to Prince Charming. He will find you once you have found yourself.




“Felipe” whom Gilbert went on to marry in real life was the her prince. After 10 years, women are still drawn to this storyline, so much that Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It was released earlier this year. A compilation of essays and stories of other people that embarked on similar journeys.

But what happens when Elizabeth posts this on July 1, 2016?

“Dear Ones – Because I have shared details of my private life with you all so intimately over the years, I feel the need to share with you this recent change in my personal life. 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. 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. At this time of transition, I hope you will respect our privacy. In my heart, I know that you will do so, because I trust that you understand how this is a story that I am living — not a story that I am telling. I thank you for your love, and for your kindness, and for your continued blessings. Hold us in your thoughts. And I hope you will understand and forgive me if I am a bit absent from social media during this sensitive moment. Lastly, I wanted to share this poem, written by the poet-of-my-heart Jack Gilbert. This poem has been helping to carry me through this experience. Perhaps it will help some of you, also:

Blessings, and all my love, LG”


What? This can’t be happening! I read it again to make sure. I could feel a part of my heart sink as the news became real.  Thank goodness I wasn’t alone!  Thousands of people seemed to have similar visceral responses. The post caused 45K reactions, 3000 shares and over 8,000 comments of encouragement, sadness and reprise on Facebook.

In lieu of indulging in a day of gloom, I asked myself why I needed to see Elizabeth Gilbert’s marriage succeed? Soon I uncovered three reasons why I needed to stop, put things into perspective and simply drop the grief.


1. Pain is real.

“I trust that you understand how this is a story that I am living — not a story that I am telling.”

This line is one that stings. Pain is so real. We’ve all been there when things haven’t worked out and we fall into devastation. Life is incredibly messy. So let’s go back to first grade and apply the Golden Rule. How would it feel to be held to those standards?


2. Her life isn’t mine

I have said on multiple occasions, “I want to become Alexia Gilbert Gonzalez”. Simply because I admire her way of writing and clearing the air on so many important life topics. Many have a deep admiration for her heartfelt story. She was a beacon of hope. “If she can’t make her marriage work, how do I have a chance?” It’s a dangerous analogy. We are all in life for ourselves. Yes, we can get inspired by others but it’s their life not ours. We make our own.


3. We are all human

Intimate relationships are “the real learning” grounds. That is where we learn who we really are. They bring out the great, bad and yes the ugly. It’s ok to choose to walk away from relationships, jobs and situations where we can no longer live as who we have become. The quicker we realize that we are human, the easier we will be on ourselves and others.

So if your protagonist for a similar story isn’t Elizabeth and Felipe, I’m sure they have another names. Stop, don’t create links where there shouldn’t be. Remember drop it! Happy endings are having the courage to fail and starting out anew.