How to guarantee you’re gonna have a bad Fu@%||*#@ night


April 28 by The Running Son

Base ingredients: Your Dad is terminally ill. You have Bi-polar disorder, and are off medication. He spent his fatherhood trying to perfect you. You want him to give a crap about you. You don’t talk much to him anymore because you just don’t know what to say to him.

(Enneagram: dad is a sp-1, I am sx/so-4)

Imagine: Your dad calls you on a Sunday evening. He comes up with some excuse… his phone rang and it was staticy and he wanted to make sure it wasn’t you trying to call. The conversation begins civil enough. Small talk, then into his upcoming doctor visits: the tube they must install into his stomach in preparation for radiation and chemotherapy. His first visit, Wednesday, to begin his post-operative chemo. How you can start to feel bulletproof in life when you live 8 healthy decades, “then everything happens all at once” in his words.

This is good, you think. It’s going smooth, and will continue to. Why? because you are NOT going to talk personal. That’s right. keep it all on him, and light as possible, and it will go just fine. There’s a place and a time for risky subjects, but not here, not now. You get way too worked up.

But then the conversation turns to how you are doing. (exhale slow) Oh boy.

“Good, good. Naw, I’ve been just fine”

“So hows the weather up there in the desert?”

“Wonderful. You can work outside with your shirt off. Not too hot, not too cold.”

“So what else is new?” He asks.

Then, out of nowhere, and before you can filter,

“I’ve been writing poetry again. Can you believe it?” It sounds boyish and desperate in your ears.


“Have you? So, what else have you been up to?”

And then it happens again, like a child,

“Well, I have been toying with the possibility that I may have had a mini-stroke…”

Goddamnit. That is one thing you were NOT going to say to him. Not yet at least… he’d just get upset. It wasn’t time yet.

“So, How is your roommate, Katheryn?”


“You heard what I just said, right?” Heat in your chest. Breathing loud. Seconds pass.

“Well, yeah. (pause) But how is Kathy doing?

Fire. Red.

“You didn’t hear a fucking word I said to you did you!” Daring him… just DARING him to say the wrong answer.

“Well… Yes I di—”

SLAM. Landline hurled across your room.

Then, as if there is no justice in the universe, all the rage floods away. In it’s place, pain and sadness. The kind that comes to a man in a stroke of conscience after beating a child.

25 minutes go by. You close the door to your room. Of course you have to call him back. You want scream at him, “you adopt me, and look through me my whole damn life… like at some image of the good son, the perfect suburban kid. And while you were off planning my future, I’m going south fast. I didn’t know how to be or how to belong, or what to do after that terrible thing that happened– remember that, you fucking asshole? You were clueless of what was going on right under your nose. You did nothing. In school I was depressed beyond comprehension and at the doorstep of suicide and you didn’t have a goddamn clue– and you were a teacher! You had 40 loooong years of experience to draw from in which to figure this shit out. 40 years to learn about how to be a parent. I mean, at least outsource the problems if you cant handle them. But you failed at that too you miserable sonofabitch…”

Then you remember where you are, and pick up the phone. You dial his home number. Three rings, then on the fourth, “Hello?”

Your voice is low and dry… that is, if you are faking it good enough.

“Look, I’m sorry. I– I can’t talk right now. I’m just on my way out. I’ll call you tomorrow.” nonononono

“Ok then I guess…”




Nicely done, Jim. Stellar. You’ve had 40 years too, haven’t you?

Tonight the lesson is obvious: this one is on you. You should know better.



The Running Father Blog

46 thoughts on “How to guarantee you’re gonna have a bad Fu@%||*#@ night

  1. Reblogged this on happyheuristics and commented:
    The Bi-Polar Icarus. Jim Aldrich, at the Running father blog seems to be ‘navigating the space between brilliance and madness’ ( )Not being a psychiatrist or a sufferer, it took me more than 10 years to make the connection between’ bi-polar’ and Icarus. In fact, until I start my own blog and write about Icarus, this particular’ Icarus’ was unknown to me. I’ve always been fascinated by Yves Klein, which I call the Blue Icarus, who was never diagnosed bi-polar to my knowing but with a heart disease. It is true that Klein was pretty wired but my fascination was directed at the mystic, not in contradiction with mental illness as posts at the runningfather are devoted to make the link between mystical states and mental disorders.
    Indeed, I met Jim at his RunningFatherblog and bi-polar came in the picture. It seems now evident to me and I can’t escape this connection anymore, though I still hold that there are social, of course mystical, as much as biological, mental factors (family secrets, education, father/son relationship), for this ‘disorder:’ mental illness has to be understood holistically to help sufferers the best, as the Icarus project’s message is devoted to transmit.
    Icarus, in the story, has a dire fate…
    Wish you well, Jim, and, please, take good care.

    • Of course I’m honored to have you reblog this, and under whatever title you think is best for the target audience.

      • Oh by the way, I live in that touristic town in Israel. Thanks, after reading your ‘ icaresques’ I’ll find a compelling title, hopefully 😉

        • Where did I get Australia… hmmm. OK that explains my hits from the Holy Land. I just created a long reply in the pull down reader and *pooof* it disappeared. Again. I could spit. Just wanted to say, quickly, to take all the time you need to read those poems. I’ll be here, with your posts on Icarus fresh in my mind.

  2. Hello Jim,

    You know my interest in the Icarus archetype -I know you don’t find my posts on the subject up to your standards ;). You, so eager to comment on my drivel never commented on “Icaresques” or “the Icarus lessons”. I wondered why and got some beginning of an answer besides my writing being still immature. Indeed, 2 weeks ago, I’ve come across the Icarus Project, not on the Internet but in a little cafe in a little touristic town in Israel on an old flyer hidden below other ads. It’s my husband that called it to my attention and I thought immediately of you: You’ve written before about your “disorder” and I could not bring myself to comment on it until now because I hate psychiatric labels. I visited the Internet as soon as I came home. This project is on now 10 years Even when I googled Icarus the last 10 years, I’ve never come across this website. I guess I was not ready for the info, so when this post appeared on my reader, I knew I had to share this information with you, if you don’t already know about this project. They mention bi-polar disorder but are rather a dialogue organization/forum with bi-polar sufferers caretakers and also the psychiatric establishment to redefine and give a new dignity to sufferers. Instead of labels and medication, they try to find other ways to help people cope with this particular crisis in their life.They have a very transpersonal take on it as well. I know the poetic and ‘icaresque’ subtitle ‘navigating the space between brilliance and madness” will be attractive to you ;). So if you allow me to reblog your post as Jim Aldrich : the Wounded Healer (to be?: are you practicing healing?) Icarus, I’ll be glad. because your story represents one step further on my Icaresques, Icarus Lessons explorations. Or am I too presumptuous?

    Take good care,


    • I read two lines. I am going to read the rest of course, but I think I said something, somewhere to give toy the wrong idea. I’ve been waiting for you to resurface, and a deep respect for your thought and direction…

      • resurface? We were only chatting this week! Oh you mean with Icarus. I think this conversation will make Icaresques resurface. I am working on a portrait of the person who gave me the inspiration for Icaresques, the French painter Yves Klein. Still after more than 10 years fascinated….and can’t give yet justice to his great talent. He is for me the epitome of the post-modern Icarus. I call him the Blue Icarus. but I don’t despair he’ll come soon.

        • HH… I’m certified crazy. How’s that for a professional label? I have to conclude it’s me, not you, that is causing this epidemic of misunderstandings we have between each other. I’m laughing, because I kinda want to go back and count them all. I could wear out keyboards though with the babbling I want to do to try to explain what I meant here and apologize there… reminds me of me in grade school where nobody understood a thing I said, I think. Ahhh life’s a trip.

          You’re alright Michal, no matter what country you’re from. Did I tell you I’m adopted, but my birth mother was a Jew?

    • Now that I have read it, Thank you for thinking of me… on your trip to Israel? Wow.

      First of all, I have some posts of yours I missed, and it’s time to go in and read them. Let me say this directly: I have hundreds of blogs in my reader, but you are in the top 10 I most look for. Second, since we talked last, I wrote 3 poems that have, in particular, themes of Icarus in them. Seven Sinners Prayer and the Alchemy of Light, then the poem I wrote last night, A Union of Opposites. You were there when I started writing, and commented as I remember, and I wrote since then with you in the background of my mind.

      The link was exciting. All I can say now is I want to get involved with this site, so thank you.

      I’d particular like to hear your comments, if any, on those 3 poems in relation to the theme.

      • I sound like such a self-centered nag, I thought the 😉 😉 would have been enough. I know you have hundreds of blogs and I can’t even keep up with my 2 dozens and I have to say that by yourself you deliver both as a poster and a commentator, Jim! It was just that you seemed to consistently miss the Icarus theme ones (I publish posts once or twice a week at most), so I went a wondering and I want to believe that’s how I got to the Icarus project. It’s all heuristics! Do I sound better? I will read your poems. Please don’t take it personally (like I seem to have done) if I don’t do it immediately: I have deadlines coming up and I want to give your poems the attention they deserve.

        Thanks for the feedback, I will probably follow you on that site as well: subscribed.


  3. godtisx says:

    I don’t have any deep answers and no answer that would be much of one. But I feel the misfortune of this situation, relating yet not reaching each other, looking yet not being able to see due to hurtful mistakes that cut deep. I’m there with you around the difficulty here, and wish the absolute best in the form of healing and growth for you and your dad. That’s all.

    Thanks for letting us in, too.

  4. Aaahhh yep, been there, with my mum though. Carrie said it well. It takes time to re-wire the brain. For some, meditation works. But actually, it doesn’t work for everyone, which isn’t a popular finding at the moment (among the meditation converts). For others (and myself included), hard, physical exercise works. Or music (playing it), or art and writing, or a combination of all of the above. I have to *really* work hard at my breathing with running, and be super-conscious of it, which I think is why it’s worked way better for me than meditation. I just freaked out with meditation, and it made my anxiety and anger worse. I thought that it was because my ego was way out of control and blablabla, but then I attended a conference at work on re-wiring the brain. There was all this amazing research that showed incredible results for adults that had been severely abused as kids, and had a wide range of conditions, including PTSD. Meditation had some positive impacts for some of them, in terms of re-wiring the brain, but the hard physical exercise showed *significantly* better results, especially if undertaken in the great out doors. But ya gotta do whatever works best for you. In the mean time, let go of the guilt. I know it’s hard; but your dad is a grown up and should at least have heard you out when you bravely phoned back to apologize.

    • Thanks Anthro. Read it and took it in, but keeping my replies short for now. Interesting frankly… I’d love to see the criteria for that testing done on meditation and mental health.

      • From what I learned, meditation is fantastic for some mental health issues, but not so much for others. The hard exercise just worked better for people with historical abuse and subsequent PTSD and intense anger. I was fortunate to spend a year living at the Findhorn Spiritual Community in Scotland, and one of the best things I leanred (from Thich Nhat Hahn) was that mediation doesn’t have to be sitting down’; it can be walking, running, dancing, singing, whatever works. Because ultimately it’s about mindfulness and gratitude.

        • I think I’m gonna let myself be drawn in to this subject tonight… it’s too important.

          The most influential book on meditation I’ve read–on so many levels– was Claudio Naranjo and R. Ornsteins book On the Psychology of Meditation. He made the case that “attention” was the one common element to all styles in all traditions.

          Implicitly though, I walked away with an immense respect for the awesome power of human ego activity and its incessant drive toward distracting us from our mortality, and most importantly to your point, (and most indirectly understood through my reading) how unprepared the heavily conditioned ego is to receive, with equanimity, genuine impulses flooding up from the unconscious… how the disparity between the “two modes of man” can be a very dangerous thing to unite flippantly. A callous, rigid and unhealthy psycho-structure works toward self forgetting. When the self is “met”, or when the ego is confronted with reality, it is unfamiliar, alien, terrifying and maybe earth shattering.

          Consider the phenomenon of Kundalini symptoms. They say Kundalini yoga is a shortcut through the transformation process which implies the un-caging of being, and the meeting of our most protected and malformed self with direct reality.

          These are all my terms, used interchangeably as I license myself to do. But are “Kundalini Rising” symptoms a good example of why meditation may not work for some people?

          Anthro, I think I agree with you, and these findings, but maybe for different reasons? I dont know. I know this: I dont believe it’s a crapshoot, like throwing different medications at a disorder. No, I think there is a logic here, and that we need to spend a lot more time studying ways to approach “meditative de-conditioning” (if you will) without putting fragile people at risk.

          There is so much more to be said… hope to talk more. –Jim

          • I agree with what you say, and I’m not at all ‘anti-meditation’, but more, as you say, that for fragile people, it can indeed put them at risk, if undertaken too soon, or without the right support. I guess it’s difficult to convey here in comments what I mean; there is a rich context and background to where my comments are coming from, and as it stands, I can actually sit and meditate these days. But 15 years ago? Hell no. I was sitting on a ledge, too fragile, barely hanging on or balancing on that ledge. It was just too intense. But the so-called spiritual teacher was scathing and condescending, told me my ego was too strong and essentially insulted me (his own ego was a bit questionable…..but anyway). And then at Findhorn I met all these amazing spiritual teachers, who has a very different perspective, thank God. For lots of people, they need to come to it in a tangential way; it’s not a ‘lesser’ way, and nor are they ‘lesser’ people, it’s just different. Their soul needs a bit more time to prepare. Kundalini is the most intense, potent and powerful energy, and energy is neither ‘good’ nor ‘bad’, it just is, but shifts and changes depending on the vehicle or how it’s being utilised. For someone with a ruptured psyche, you just gotta be so careful. For me, running and dancing out that energy, and coming to meditation from a place of preparedness, where I had sorted out my breathing, expended energy in other (healthy) ways, worked, as it does for many others. I think we are perhaps on the same page, just different background contexts?

            • I am relieved in a small way Anthro. Yes, we are close enough. I plan to blog a lot in months to come on language (jargon) and background difference among people with otherwise overlapping core beliefs. Another important topic.

            • 🙂 Sounds like a great idea for a blog post. Anyway, you reminded me of a beautiful poem by Thich Nhat Hanh that I have posted over at my blog, so thank you for that.

            • I’ll stop in. Thanks again. 😉

        • That was my favorite lesson from Thich Nhat Hahn, too. Running is totally an exercise in meditation for me, because I think it helps my body scream out pain that I can’t articulate otherwise. Breathing meditation and Metta meditation has also helped me, but not before I learned how to do yoga first. I needed the medium of physical exercise to begin uniting my mind and body because all other attempts left me screaming & crying uncontrollably. Cognitive therapy doesn’t work with people who are intelligent enough to know where they are, and meditation alone wasn’t safe because my mind is not a safe place to retreat; that’s the exact problem. And that’s exactly why physical activity works for me.

          • Well said; yeah, CBT and me didn’t work – for me it was like guessing the ending of a really obvious plot in a story, and always being one step ahead. Yoga is awesome too, that combo of hard physical work, mindfulness and breathing; perfect.

          • Making a lot of sense you two. Remember 1 Timothy 4:8, “For bodily exercise profits little”? Pfffff

  5. Geo Sans says:

    my father’s

    battle with cancer

    was also difficult


    take care

    of yourself firstly


    for me

    that is the most



    don’t know if this helps


    take care

    sending compassionate energy

    your way

  6. Something I’ve learned from practicing Buddhism: Good/Bad are not helpful. Yes there is good and bad in the world. Sometimes we can influence it; sometimes we can’t. What IS helpful to focus on is skillful v. unskillful. You’ve had decades of practice and conditioning of how to react to your dad. Maybe this conditioning isn’t skillful. Learn a new way to react to the same stimuli. Breathing is always a good place to start. Maybe distance is good for now. Maybe trying to cultivate thoughts of lovingkindness for him from a distance is where you need to be. You might feel like you’re up against a clock if he’s terminal with the cancer. You still need to breathe, and so does he. Maybe, if distance or time isn’t an option, maybe start with that commonality. Maybe just sit together in awkward silence.

    I’m sorry you had a rough night. I had a rough morning and haven’t been able to catch my breath all day. Anxiety is a bitch. Breathing really helps.

    • Carrie, would you believe I was thinking about you shortly before he called? I’m still convinced you originally followed me because you assumed RunningFather meant I jog. 😉

      You are direct. I kinda need it. Yesterday I would have counseled the next person with a similar answer, clear, mature, balanced. Today It all goes out the window. I know ignorant people that know no better. I’m not them tho…I could *not* possibly be more personally forewarned. Better armed? That speaks to your point. Blah I’m rambling listen to me Jeeeeesus…

      Thanks Carrie.

      • I forgot to mention–“Maybe this conditioning isn’t skillful.” This part hit me….. like a somewhat forgotten possibility…thanks.

      • I would certainly believe it. Regardless of the association with running, I think people who need to find each other in the world, do. The internet is a real gift in facilitating this. In reading your blog through the lens of my life’s perspective, I see more and more how connected we are through shared life experiences.

        More than any advice on how to navigate this situation, my hope last night was that you didn’t feel alone, and reading these comments, I am encouraged that you are most definitely not alone. Of course we could all be superficial nobodies in the anonymity of the World Wide Web. But I don’t sense that here. I am intentionally not anonymous with my blog because it’s as much of a way to reach people and build relationships in my daily real world life as it is in my daily virtual one. And even if some of the bloggers are anonymous or use pseudonyms, I get the impression that their responses here are sincere, and that’s really what matters. You are not alone in this, any of it.

        • And I say all this as I have Day 2 of waking up with anxiety attacks. I’m so in the same boat.

          • Also, though “running” is what brought me to the page, the About description being a variation on the prodigal story is what inspired me to subscribe. I am such a prodigal, though I fight it tooth and nail.

            • I wrote like 3 answers and dumped them. I don’t think you suffer folly well. As such your answer, the time you took, is amplified for me. Respect, and thanks. There is a frontier where physical exercise meets the gods, so to speak. Life’s a goddamn trip.

          • Too lazy to google it I finally learned the meaning of Namaste from a fellow blogger.

            Peace carrie.

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RFB editor Jim Aldrich, Joshua Tree CA 2013

RunningSon aka Jim Aldrich, Joshua Tree CA 2013 | This site is dedicated with the deepest gratitude to Dr. Cláudio Naranjo, whose writings gave me life.

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