I recall vividly standing in a side hallway of the county courthouse the moment I signed my final divorce agreement.

I patiently waited years for this moment and I wanted nothing more than to be done. Surviving divorce is not easy and I was more than ready to move forward.


The moment was not how I had imagined it would be after 8.5 years of experiencing a 12 day trial that took place over 9 months followed by a 4 year Appellate Court process that left me feeling drained and beaten yet wiser and stronger. I learned more than I ever cared to know about the legal system, court proceedings and the divorce process itself. Somehow I survived.


The dense fog of living in a constant state of conflict and ambivalence slowly lifted and years of heaviness began to dissipate as I watched my hand unconsciously create my signature. I was hopeful I could rebuild my life on my terms and finally be the captain of my life. I learned I only had one shot at this.  My self-respect and future depended on my ability to maintain my dignity and act with grace regardless of being surrounded in negativity.


I walked out of the courthouse feeling inspired and empowered to create my future as I desired and to have the courage to live a life true to myself; not the life others expected nor demanded of me. I was ready to let myself choose happiness; I was surviving divorce and ready to start thriving. I was ready to study, grow and learn to live with purpose and meaning and stop going through the motions on automatic pilot. The freedom I felt walking down the long staircase to the parking lot liberated me to never settle for less than my heart’s desire.


I started to feel better after divorce when I accepted there aren’t always fairy tale endings and there is no guarantee of happily ever after. Self-approval and self-respect allowed my confidence to blossom. Forgiveness brought on a sense of peace and contentment. Letting go of old messages and opinions that had been ingrained into my psyche by others gave me the skills I needed to open up to new worlds and see different points of view.


Feeling better is only a result of reassessing and redefining who you are and what you really stand for. The freedom I felt allowed me to create and contribute and stop seeking my next coping mechanism and shopping spree. I reconnected to my core values and set goals instead of regurgitating wishful thinking.


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I learned to distinguish between guilt and responsibility and that setting boundaries and learning to say NO was no longer an opinion or an option. I learned to look at relationships as they truly are and no longer as I would have them.

I surrendered my need to control people and situations and allowed the power of grace to work its magic by releasing my attachment to the outcome.

One of the deepest shifts of healing and feeling better after divorce came when I stood tall, shoulders back, chin up and realized that I deserved to me treated with unconditional love, kindness, integrity and respect. I learned you always get what you settle for and you can’t teach a horse to fly.

I knew surviving divorce was only the first step. Raising my standards was only second to accepting full responsibility in the part I played in the angst and demise of my marriage.


The stress of divorce can create havoc on your sense of well-being at every level: mental, emotional, psychological and physical. I lived on caffeine, sugar, salt and wine far too long. Insomnia, chronic headaches, anger, weight loss and gain and panic attacks were no way to live a life. I learned that my body really was my temple and I took the time to rest, exercise, and eat food that nourished my body and remembered that laugher, exploration, play, community and friends fueled my soul.


Divorce also gave me many gifts. A new direction, courage, strength, improved discipline, patience, persistence, perseverance, understanding, knowledge, wisdom, gratitude, faith, hope and trust in self. Make it a point no matter what to keep your heart open, tap into your ability to discern, keep trusting and stay open to every wonderful gift and possibility that life has to offer.


Your future ahead is bright. The life you want to live is out there. Go get it!


Remarried now four years I am proof a new life is more than possible. The agonizing and unique (only 1% experience trial and appeals court) experience I had propelled me to create Better Divorce Academy, author Better Divorce Blueprint, Host The Grey Sweater Club, The Thriving In Chaos Project and Private Island Divorce preparation and recovery retreats as a platform and community where my education and skills bring ultimate clarity to the entire divorce journey with confidential personalized 1:1 coaching and guidance to help women and families contemplating, approaching, surviving and healing all things divorce.

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Paulette’s personal 8.5 year litigated and appellate experience make her strive to create clear efficient direction, move resiliently through extreme stress, and save precious time and money to create a satisfying solution and find purpose, means, pleasure and freedom.

As Founder of Better Divorce Academy she breaks down divorce from the earliest stages of contemplation to the necessary final steps of healing using practical tools, inspiration, and a proven mediation/negotiation model. 

Her specialty is working with high-achieving professional and entrepreneurial women in high-conflict narcissistic abuse divorce cases. Her community saves time, money, heartache and is changing the landscape and outcome of the divorce journey for every family member, particularly the children. 

Paulette is an E-RYT 500, Sacred Space Yoga School RYS teacher trainer, a certified birth doula, a coach, and a personal guide and facilitator in The Four Desires. She has additional training and experience in Pilates, Reiki, Thai bodywork, macrobiotic cooking, and counseling through The Kushi Institute. 

Drawing on her thirty-five years of experience, Paulette is a pioneer in the world of wellness and transformation and brings strength and breadth to her ability to help her clients heal. 


She’s an ex-Bostonian, ex-pat Belizean who now loves living in Atlanta. She is an avid traveler, obsessed plant-based foodie, passionate minimalist, wife to her remarkable husband Steven, and mom to 5 amazing kids, and the sweetest Chiweenie, Lulu. She loves Sade, Plant Based Cuisine, Sushi, SUP, Aerial yoga, and The band: America.


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Gabrielle Hartley with Elena Brower
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DISCLAIMER: The commentary, advice, and opinions from Gabrielle Hartley are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice or mental health services. You should contact an attorney and/or mental health professional in your state to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. 


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