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Aftermath: on marriage and separation by…

Aftermath: on marriage and separation (2012)

by Rachel Cusk

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Zeus has led us on to know,
The Helmsman lays it down as law
That we must suffer, suffer into truth.
We cannot sleep, and drop by drop at the heart
the pain of pain remembered comes again,
and we resist, but ripeness comes as well.
From the gods enthroned on the awsome rowing-bench
there comes a violent love.

Aeschylus, 'The Oresteia'
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Recently my husband and I separated, and over the course of a few weeks the life that we'd made broke apart, like a jigsaw dismantled into a heap of broken-edged pieces.
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In the winter of 2009, Rachel Cusk's marriage of ten years came to an end. In the months that followed, life as she had known it fell apart. Suddenly, she was alone with two daughters, facing an uncertain future. Aftermath chronicles this journey from the end of happy family life as we know it to the beginning of a new phase. Along the way, the author has to redefine herself as a single woman; create a new version of motherhood. She discovers previously unknown strengths and freedoms but also finds herself suddenly vulnerable to outsiders, unwelcome advice, social displacement and the absence of a clear authority. There is the pressure to endlessly create a 'normal' life for her daughters while nothing that happens feels normal at all. She encounters the perils of lodgers, holiday rentals, family gatherings and new best friends.… (more)

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