Divorce Guilt & Scorpion Venom

scorpionMy kids spent the night last night. They’re still sleeping. I’m trying to write about them, but I just found a scorpion on my desk. Usually, when I write, I do a lot more staring at the screen than writing. I stare from and at that distant place where you’re not really looking at anything but rather just waiting for some words to bubble up from nowhere, get typed, and take me down a path to more words. But now I’m struggling to lose myself in the stare. Because, you know, the scorpion.

The kids and I are living our way through our fourth year of being a family with two houses. Yesterday, we went to a movie, went out to dinner, played games, and spent some time together and apart, looking at our respective mobile devices. I spend a lot of our time together being aware of my guilt for disrupting their lives and rearranging their family. It messes with my ability to be present. It’s obvious now that the scorpion on my desk is a metaphor for my guilt, or my guilt is a metaphor for scorpions, or The Scorpion is the Great God of Guilt & Remorse, or the scorpion is my spirit animal, arriving on my desk to provide me with wise council and esoteric knowledge. That sounds about right.

“You there, Bark Scorpion! What business has your venomous stinger here, inside — indeed, on my desk — where I write and goof about on Twitter? Is not your time more aptly spent roaming the desert in search of crickets, roaches, and beetles?”

Perhaps, Black Hockey Jesus, perhaps. But there is more to the life of a Bark Scorpion than the ceaseless round of mere feeding.

“How now? Then speak, Bark Scorpion! I haven’t the time to tarry with scorpions. I have no small number of Facebook Friends and no end to their witty and opinionated status updates.”

My mission involves venom.

“Venom! Ha ha ha ha oh my how I wish you would, Bark Scorpion. I will end you with a quickness with either book or shoe. Make your move, Bark Scorpion, and see to what end your wily tail. Ha!”

Oh, but the venom of which I speak, Black Hockey Jesus, already courses through your veins and thoughts, put there by the stinging tail of your very own deeds.

“What meaning do you conceal, Bark Scorpion? Trouble me no more with your cunning riddles.”

Your venomous conscience, Black Hockey Jesus. That is the venom of which I speak. The perpetual sting of your guilt for your actions and the paths your actions created for your innocent children. How, because of you, their parents are — 

“Say no more, Bark Scorpion, I beg you! I know well of this sting you speak of, and its venom! My God, the relentless venom!”

But I have come today, Black Hockey Jesus, with an antidote —

“An antidote?!?”

In the form of council and wisdom derived from the ambivalent meaning of the Greek word, pharmakon, paradoxically translated as both ‘poison’ and ‘remedy.’ Be wary of judging too hastily the impact of your divorce on the lives and characters of your children, Black Hockey Jesus. For what may initially feel and act like poison may one day prove to be a great source of remedy for them and many more like them.

“I’m afraid I misunderstand, Master Bark Scorpion. Please elaborate —”


As the Bark Scorpion announced the elusive qualities of wisdom, it scurried toward me and plunged its tail into my hand with deliberate force.


Take this, my venomous offering, Black Hockey Jesus, my poison, your cure, and take yourself at once to the ER before the numbness spreads and your vision blurs.

I woke the kids in a rush and hurried them to the car. We would be all right. We would be all right. Everything was going to be all right.


Photo Credit: Jon Hendry


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