The Messiness of Emotional Healing

By Amy BartlettMay 6, 2024

They say healing is supposed to be a beautiful journey. You get broken, heal, and voila—you emerge a new, shinier version of yourself.

But let me tell you from the get-go, it’s nothing like that. It’s more like trying to glue a shattered vase back together—you might be able to, but it’ll never be quite the same. And that’s perfectly okay.

The realization that I wasn’t okay hit me unexpectedly, in the most cliché way imaginable; a seemingly insignificant moment sparked by a breakup. 

It was a typical Tuesday night, the kind where the hours blend into each other, and the world outside seems distant and muffled. I was lounging on my worn-out couch, wrapped in a blanket that had seen better days, my only company being the soft glow of my phone screen.

I was idly scrolling through photos when suddenly, a memory appeared: a picture of us, radiant with joy, unaware of the heartache that the future held. The café we loved, with its quirky charm and too-strong coffee, formed the backdrop of our laughter and shared dreams, captured in that single, candid frame.

Staring at that image, a sharp, almost physical pain coursed through me. It was like a dam had broken, releasing a flood of suppressed emotions.

That was when it hit me that I was not okay. Far from it. 

The memories, once sweet, now ached with a sense of loss—the morning coffees, the whispered promises, the lazy Sundays wrapped in each other’s arms. These fragments of the past, which I had tried to lock away, now demanded to be felt in all their raw intensity.

At that moment, I understood that the journey of healing was not just about moving on; it was about facing the pain and the remnants of a love that still echoed in the depths of my heart.

So, I decided to give therapy a try. 

People need other people, especially in their healing journeys. And in my case, that person was my therapist.

The decision was partly fueled by the fact that I had secondary insurance, which made the financial aspect less daunting. There I was, benefiting from a system I had barely paid attention to before. Each session, though challenging, was a step forward, partially made possible by the fact that I wasn’t overwhelmed by the financial burden of it.

Picture this: A small room overflowing with cushions, and me, a grown adult, clutching a tissue like it was a lifeline. Therapy became my lifeline. But it was tough. I’d leave some sessions feeling invincible, and then the next week, I’d return to feeling like I was at square one.

What made it tougher was the illusion everyone around me seemed to portray. Social media was a constant reminder of perfect lives, and here I was, barely keeping it together. I felt like I was failing at something everyone else was acing.

But here’s what I slowly realized: it’s all a façade. Healing isn’t pretty. It’s a messy, painful, and exhaustive process. 

Days when I felt like I was getting nowhere were more frequent than I’d care to admit. I’d just lie there, staring at the ceiling, wondering if I’d ever feel “normal” again. Yet, there were these tiny, almost imperceptible moments of breakthrough, like the first genuine laugh after months of going through the motions.

Healing isn’t about getting back to who you were before. It’s about coming to terms with the new you, the one who survived a storm. It’s about accepting that some days will be challenging, and that’s okay. It’s not a race and certainly not a competition.

Healing is deeply personal. Your journey won’t look like mine, and mine won’t look like yours. And perhaps that’s the beauty of it. Every step, every stumble, contributes to a unique journey that is shaping you.

Along my path, I’ve discovered a couple of truths. The first is the power of self-compassion. We often beat ourselves up for not healing “fast enough” or for experiencing setbacks. But learning to be kind to ourselves during these times is crucial. You’re allowed to have bad days. You’re allowed to struggle. Healing is not about perfection; it’s about progress, no matter how small.

I’ve also realized the significance of support systems. No one should have to walk the path of healing alone. Friends, family, therapists, support groups—they provide a safety net for when we stumble. These relationships offer comfort, advice, and a listening ear when we need it most.

They remind us that we don’t have to carry our burdens in solitude. 

With every challenge I faced, I found pieces of strength I didn’t know I had. It was like stitching together a patchwork of resilience and courage, each piece representing a hurdle crossed, a fear faced head-on. These experiences, as harrowing as they were, began to shape me in ways I hadn’t anticipated. I found myself becoming more empathetic and more understanding of the complexities of human emotions. It was as if each moment of struggle was a lesson in patience, a test of my perseverance. I learned to stand amid chaos and find my calm, to face the wave and not be swayed.

Let’s get real about healing: it’s not a neat, linear process. It’s a beautifully complex journey that deserves our patience and kindness.

So, here’s to the messy, imperfect, yet profoundly transformative path of emotional healing, where the struggle and the beauty coexist, reminding us that every step forward, no matter how small, is a victory worth celebrating.


People need other people. You are not weak for wanting or needing support. If you’re seeking professional help, we encourage you to use TWLOHA’s FIND HELP Tool. If you reside outside of the US, please browse our growing International Resources database. You can also text TWLOHA to 741741 to be connected for free, 24/7 to a trained Crisis Text Line counselor. If it’s encouragement or a listening ear that you need, email our team at [email protected]

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Comments (3)

  1. Debbie

    Thank you so very much for this!!! I needed your words today.

    Reply  |  
  2. Emma Lee

    Much appreciated, healing is a messy journey and can take many times over again until it’s coasting well again.

    Reply  |  
  3. Alyssa Nash

    Absolutely beautiful. Thank you for sharing your truth

    Reply  |  
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