Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Guest Author Christal Presley: Thirty Days with My Father: Finding Peace from Wartime PTSD

There is No Agenda--Only a Story about a Father, a Daughter, and a War by Christal Presley

I don’t know enough about history to give you the context of any war.  I don’t know enough about politics to be political.  But with the pending publication of my memoir about my father’s return from Vietnam, Thirty Days with My Father:  Finding Peace from Wartime PTSD, I am often asked what my agenda is.  For when it comes to war, people expect you to take sides—to choose the “good guys” over the “bad,” to be pro-war or pro-peace, to choose right over wrong.   

But few things are black and white, and for me, writing this book was never about having an agenda.

It was about telling a story, and trying desperately to reconnect with my father.  You see, when my father was 18 years old, he was drafted to fight on the front-lines in Vietnam. It was his first trip anywhere.  When he returned to his Appalachian hometown in Virginia, my family was grateful to have our soldier safely home. What we didn’t realize was that a part of him had been lost for good.  

Christal's Dad in Nam

My father was disconnected from my mother and me, spent a big part of my childhood hiding in his room, gravitating between depression and rage. He was unable to participate in birthdays or Christmases, for the closeness of being with his family was unbearable.

My family never spoke about the war that raged within our home. Though it lived under the surface of every facet of our lives, we tried to will it away by pretending it didn’t exist. 

It would be thirty years before I finally risked asking my father about what happened to him back then. Somehow I had a hunch that trying to understand his suffering might be the key to understanding my own.  For like my father, I had been diagnosed with PTSD, though I had never been to war myself. 

Christal as a child
Ernst Toller once said, “At that moment of realization I knew I had been blind because I had wished not to see.” Perhaps this is my agenda, if I have one at all:  to help myself to see.  And if I am lucky, the experiences I am finally—after all these years—able to articulate in my book will help others see that the invisible wounds of war can go on and on as long as they remain silent and closeted.  

To learn more about Christal Presley and her book "Thirty Days with My Father" please visit her website at this link:  www.christalpresley.com.

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