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When Christal Presley's father was eighteen, he was drafted to Vietnam. Like many men of that era who returned home with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), he was never the same. He spent much of her childhood locked in his room, gravitating between the deepest depression and unspeakable rage, unable to participate in holidays or birthdays. At a very young age, Christal learned to walk on eggshells, doing anything and everything not to provoke him, but this dance caused her to become a profoundly disturbed little girl. She acted out at school, engaged in self-mutilation, and couldn't make friends. At the age of eighteen, Christal left home and didn't look back. She barely spoke to her father for the next thirteen years.
To any outsider, Christal appeared to be doing well: she earned a BA and a master's, got married, and traveled to India. But despite all these accomplishments, Christal still hadn't faced her biggest challenge—her relationship with her father. In 2009, something changed. Christal decided it was time to begin the healing process, and she extended an Olive Branch. She came up with what she called "The Thirty Day Project," a month's worth of conversations during which she would finally ask her father difficult questions about Vietnam. Thirty Days with My Father: Finding Peace from Wartime PTSD (HCI) is a gritty yet heartwarming story of those thirty days of a daughter and father reconnecting in a way that will inspire us all to seek the truth, even from life's most difficult relationships. This beautifully realized memoir shares how one woman and her father discovered profound lessons about their own strength and will to survive, shedding an inspiring light on generational PTSD.
Christal Presley, PhD, is the founder of United Children of Veterans (www.unitedchildrenofveterans.com), a website that provides resources on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in children of war veterans. She obtained her PhD in education in 2009, and is an instructional mentor teacher in Atlanta Public Schools. This is her first book.
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