Liza Caldwell and the Hardest Stage of Divorce

Liza Caldwell: Divorce Stage Three or “Something Is Changing”

In relay running, the third leg is often the wildcard. This is the position most coaches place their weakest runner. The idea is that, because of there the runner receives the baton and where she hands it off to the last, or “anchor” runner, she may be running the shortest distance, only 80 meters in a 100-meter race, for example. But it’s also the spot where all can be lost. In 2008, both the men’s and the women’s 400 meter relay teams failed to qualify despite having some of the best athletes in the field. The problem? One explanation was that everyone was an anchor—or last leg of the relay. Every runner was used to being the star, not an expert at handing off.

The third leg of a relay is a critical place where, if you don’t complete the race correctly, and if you don’t handle the handoff, all is lost.

The Handoff in Divorce

That’s where we stand with stag three of the divorce. It’s a critical handoff, a transition that’s easy to overlook because it’s not as dramatic as walking into a lawyer’s office for the first time. And it’s not as clean and exciting as creating the new normal. But it’s a critical part of the race.

This week, I spoke with Liza Caldwell, cofounder and director of SAS For Women, graduate of Fordham University with an MA from Columbia Teachers College where she studied Gender and Leadership Development. She’s trained in transformational coaching and she’s a certified professional coach and recognized by the International Coach Federation.

You’re Divorced. What Now?

Now that you’re living separately from your ex and the papers are signed, it’s easy to think that the transition is over. But what’s actually happening is that you’re moving from defining yourself by what you are not, to defining yourself by what you are. This is where a lot of soul-searching happens, a lot of trying on of new identities. As Caldwell says, it’s “that stereotypical phase in the movie, of a Hollywood divorcee wearing short skirts and dyeing her hair and driving a convertible and dating much your men.” The transition doesn’t have to be that dramatic, but it can be. After all, this is you figuring out who you are after years or perhaps decades of avoiding that question.

Overwhelming Emotion

What might also hit you at this stage, according to Caldwell, is a flood of emotion. This is a bit of a mourning period for the marriage, but also for your past identity and the dreams and fantasies you had about being married. You may feel like you’re back in a stage of your life you thought you had passed. This is an important time to be gentle with yourself. It can be the most challenging.

Not Easy, But Worth It

This stage is exhilarating but it is also exhausting. It can be painful, putting yourself face-to-face with your past hopes and dreams. But it’s important to remember that it’s just a phase. This is the third leg of the relay. It’s hard. But, nail the handoff and you’re onto the finish.

If you’re considering divorce but would like to try an approach that might mean a brighter future, call my team to schedule a confidential consultation.