In every scene of political reconciliation there is a complicated set of bad relationships that must be transformed before longterm stability is possible. Successful recovery requires more than the rule of law in stable political institutions. Most theories of transitional justice assume liberalism’s autonomous subject as a background and a goal. However, autonomy cannot instruct us in how to restore it where it has been lost or never gained in the first place. Understanding the subject as vulnerable and responsive to others prior to having the autonomy to choose otherwise better captures both how recovery is possible and why it is always fragile, needing to be revisited over time as the past resurfaces in unexpected ways. Using both philosophy and empirical evidence to demonstrate how worlds are destroyed by mass violence, this essay argues for a more nuanced understanding of the selves who seek recovery, not least because it is they who will accept or reject a new institution of the rule of law.