James Ream Adams
About My Book
All too often survivors of a loved one’s suicide are left behind, struggling with a loss that fosters stigma, shame, blame, guilt and abandonment. For the survivor, these struggles last long after the funeral is over and friends and relatives have returned to their daily lives.
Healing the loss after the suicide of is about restarting your life with nothing firm to stand on.
Little Steps is the guided process James Adams recorded in his journal documenting before, during and after his son committed suicide. It starts with conversations where voices of wisdom are guiding him along a spiritual path of discovery, then, as he was confronted with the trauma of his loss, those conversations shifted focus towards coping with and understanding the grief process as it unfolded.
Feeling left behind and somehow responsible, James continued to write his guided conversations as he dealt with the questions of: Why did he do this? I should have… I could have… if only I had known or done… what did I do wrong?
These real time journaled conversations capture in a loving, spiritual, and supportive way all the drama, trauma, and recovery as they occurred making Little Steps a powerful documentary of healing from a traumatic loss.
James Adams, born in 1947, graduated in 1969 from Ohio University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Manufacturing Technology. As a senior in college, he was introduced to journal writing for a class assignment and found writing to be satisfying and useful. In 1970, working as a Manufacturing Engineer in Cincinnati, James was drafted into the U. S. Army and served in the infantry in Vietnam from 1971 to 1972. During deployment, he wrote extensively of his experiences in Vietnam to friends at home and also created “significant day” journals describing the details of deployment in a war zone.
Upon being discharged, James dropped out of the workforce to refocus on readjusting to living in America, eventually marrying and returning to the workforce as a Manufacturing Engineer in an aerospace company from 1973 until 1977. He then dropped out of the workforce again and journaled his experiences as he and his wife explored America in a camper. They eventually settled in Northwest Arkansas as part of the back-to-the-land movement on 25 acres of Ozark woods. James continued his journal writing to document their lifestyle.
In 1981 he returned to working in a factory as a Manufacturing Engineer, and in 1985 entered a drug rehabilitation center to address a chemical addiction that began in Vietnam. This time James kept a journal of his recovery progress and it was an important component of his 12-step recovery program.
James’ Journal writing took a new direction in 1991. After his divorce and while single parenting his son Andrew, the questions he presented in his writings began to be answered by his hearing “undefined voices” who offered wise counsel and insights focused on guiding him through turbulent times.
James remarried in 1997 and continued to journal his day-to-day conversations as well as creating a detailed picture Journal describing their construction of their mostly off-grid home in Madison County, Arkansas. At this time the Journal writing became more and more spiritually focused and became a key factor in James’ spiritual development. When Andrew committed suicide in November 2009, the voices of wisdom continued to support James through his grieving process and continue to guide him on a journey of spiritual awakening.We’re here to answer any questions you might have. Get in touch using the contact form below.
Prolog of Book
I started writing a personal journal in college in the 1960s, and over the years I found myself going from writing “this is what I did today” to more and more often using my journal writing as a way to work through personal “issues.” In the beginning, all I did was write what was bothering me or what I felt, but over time, I found myself having “conversations” in my writing that felt like “other viewpoints” coming into my consciousness. Well, when I got that dreaded “we need to talk” call from my girlfriend I went to bed upset and confused as to what to do, but still hoping something would come to me to help me work my way through this issue. What follows is my first experience where I heard a response to my writings.
When I woke up this morning, this afternoon’s 1:00 breakup meeting with Nannette was the first thing to come to mind. Here I sit at the kitchen table, totally at a loss as to what to do. The first thought I had was to take my “You were Terrific” balloon that she had given me and hang it on the doorknob symbolizing how our relationship has changed since it now hangs limp upon the string … But that wasn’t complete. It may have been clear hindsight, but it was not any indication as to what to do now, or in the future …
So, I asked myself again, and in response I was given this vision. Most appropriate, I thought, especially for sharing with a girlfriend who is an elementary education schoolteacher! To my surprise I hear a voice in my head!
[Get a piece of construction paper and some scissors. Two pieces actually, one for each of you. Now, sharing the scissors, fold each sheet of paper and cut out half of a heart on the fold line so that a heart can be formed by the cut.]
Well, that’s kind of corny. What are we going to do now? Cut them in half and give each other a piece to keep like a pair of teen-age lovers?
[Right, and be sure to make a good job of cutting them so the edges are very jagged. Be fair, too, cut away only what you are willing to give away.]
Oh, so that’s my lesson, eh? How big a piece do I give away, and how big a piece did I get?
[No, and don’t be impatient and jump to conclusions. We are giving the lesson here. You are the one doing the learning!]
Okay, okay, now what?
[Okay, now the two of you, look at the piece you kept and the one you got from each other. Try to fit them together. Does it work? Are they of the same color, the same size, do the edges meet? Play with them. Can they be overlapped to make one whole heart? What do you think?]
Well, if I got a bigger one than I gave away, I guess I could cut on it until I got one that matched up to the piece I kept. And it might work, but if it is too small, or the wrong color or something else, it will never fit together.
[Well, now you are starting to think. Keep playing with the pieces until you are sure.]
All right already, I get it. They don’t match. So what? That’s obvious. Tell me what this lesson is all about.
[Ah, yes, now you ask! Well, let us proceed. What piece have we not looked at?]
Well, the sheet I cut the heart out of, I guess.
[Right. Open it up and what do you see?]
Well, a piece of paper with a heart cut out of it?
[Boy, you sure have a grasp of the obvious.]
Okay … What does that mean?
[Okay, my friend, I’ll explain. The sheet of paper is yourself. The hole, shaped like a heart, is the hole you’ve left behind when you cut the heart out. See it? Well, all of life is the drama of playing with the pieces we cut out, and the truth is, the pieces are only a part of the whole. The hole left behind is just as important. Maybe even more so because it’s the motivation behind playing with the pieces. You see, you thought you could fix things by making the pieces whole again, didn’t you? That’s where all your effort was focused, when in truth, all you were really trying to do was fill in the hole you left behind.]
Oh. Well, can’t I fill it with all my pieces, the ones I kept and the ones given me?
[Look closely, even if you got pieces that matched in color, and even if you trimmed them just so … would they ever perfectly fit into the hole you are trying to fill?]
Well, no. You can’t cut that accurately.
[Even deeper than that, would each fiber of the paper match up with the other half where the scissors severed the paper?]
[Now think, my friend, where could you get a paper heart that would perfectly fill the hole you see?]
Well, it would have to come from the exact pieces I kept, and the ones I gave away.
But so many pieces are gone for good. I cut out a piece for my son Andrew when his mom divorced me and took him away. My ex-wife took a piece, and this spring I gave a big piece to my previous girlfriend, Leslie. All those pieces are gone. Now what do I do? Don’t leave me hanging like this with no hope of recovery.
[We won’t. Where can you begin? Now think, and think from a place of love and your own heart.]
Well, it seems absurd but the only thought I came up with is to give my pieces back to the rightful owners … But then I’ll have less for me.
[That’s okay. Your heart is on the right path. The only possible true act of love is what you just described. Giving back is the only choice you have, and if all people did that, then everyone would have a chance to be whole.]
But what about the pieces I gave away? Will I ever see them again?
[Let us give you an example. You said you gave a big piece to Leslie, didn’t you?]
[And in your own heart, don’t you know that truly, you gave her heart piece back?]
Yes, I did.
[Now think about Friday night. Do you think it was “just coincidence” that the two of you ran into each other in that AA meeting? Do you think it was “just coincidence” that you went out afterward to talk? Do you think it was “just coincidence” that she sat in the car with you, and in her own way, made her amends? Do you not see now how things are done? You did your work and let her go. And did that piece of your heart not come back to you?]
Yes. But what about those pieces given away that now seem forever lost?
[You just keep on working at giving your own captured pieces back and leave the rest up to us. Remember, you don’t have to do anything but your best. We know what struggles you are going through, and even more, we have access to that which you call “Divine Grace” and with it all pieces can be returned.]
[Well, you can start with giving Nannette her piece back. You love her, don’t you?]
Oh, yes, enough to gladly return her piece to her. It’s her heart, after all. Only she can and does know how to use it.
[Well, do it, don’t just sit there. This is only one lesson. You have work to do today so let’s get on with it.]
Thanks, and I love you too.
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