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Jackie Schuld Art Therapy Blog

A Goodbye to the Desert

Dear Desert,

The time has come for us to say our goodbyes.

You have permitted me to live within your borders for the past 8.5 years.

I don’t know that I am leaving you any better than I found you, but I am certainly leaving better than you found me.

I came to you after my mother died. I was in the lush lands of Hawai’i. It was too far from my family during such a difficult time. So I moved to you without even seeing you.

Illustration by Jackie Schuld

I remember those first months, it was so dry that even my bones ached. My nails developed lines. My hair became brittle.

But I learned your ways. I learned ways to care for myself in your extremities. I entombed in the summer, staying hidden away inside until the sun went down. Desert dwellers know when to do their grocery shopping - before the sun comes up or long after it goes down.

I will remember all of these things about you: The monsoons. The big bright skies. Your alien vegetation. I thought you were going to look like dunes of sand. I couldn’t have been more wrong. While you are no Hawaii, you are lush in your own ways. You’ve found your own way of surviving and thriving here.

I guess I did the same. I came to you broken. I was so overwhelmed with emotion, I couldn’t even write or read. For the first year here, all I could do was create art. I made so many watercolor paintings and drawings in that first year alone that it fills boxes and boxes. I just packed them all as I prepare to move.

It took time, but I found myself here. I took many missteps, but I eventually found my way. I was determined to not stay in a place of pain, and that’s what propelled me to the present I now have. I stopped the things that hurt and I tried new things to relieve me from pain. I ended relationships. I started therapy. I ended jobs. I tried new jobs. I stopped dating. I started dating. I concluded therapy. I tried new therapists. Each step brought me closer to seeing myself and honoring my needs.

I am leaving some things here: the depression, the anguish, broken relationships, the constant feeling of being broken and never quite right, and more. I am taking some key things with me: knowing I’m autistic, self-understanding, my new profession, my dog, my art, and my new husband.

You’ve witnessed it all. You’ve contained it all.

I’m ready to go though. I’ve been ready. It is past time. I am past my due date.

Thank you for all you’ve done for me. Thank you for the bright, sunny days. Thank you for a place to drop my tears.

I know you were not a silent witness. I know you will slowly whisper and pour wealth into me. Thank you for all you did that I did not know.

I trust that you know it is the right time for me to go.

With appreciation,



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