That first phone call was the action that led the 34-year-old Atlanta Public Schools employee to write her first book “Thirty Days with My Father: Finding Peace from Wartime PTSD,” which was published Thursday by HCI Books.
The book shares the story of Presley’s month-long commitment of daily conversations with her dad, Delmer Presley, after more than a decade of no contact.
“I wanted to hear his story,” she said. “I really wanted to piece together what happened to me back then.”
Presley’s childhood and adolescence was scarred with memories of being afraid of her father who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder after fighting in the Vietnam War. She never knew the calm, gentle man who loved animals. The father she knew was a man who distanced himself from his family and displayed violent outbursts.
“He was so unpredictable,” Presley said. “I never knew whether he was going to actually give me a hug or come after me.”
At that time, PTSD was not defined as a term so no one could explain to her what her father was going through.
“I just felt like I was living in a different world than everybody else,” Presley said.
She added it took years of therapy to get to the point of initiating a relationship with her father and fortunately he was receptive to connecting.
Presley blogged through the 30-day experience but never expected her story to impact others.
“[The blog] went viral,” she said. “Before I knew it I started getting hundreds of emails. I thought this was just something that happened to me.”
She turned the blog into a book and now serves as an advocate for children of war veterans. Presley said she and her father have a very good relationship these days and that he is excited about the book.
If you go:
Author Christal Presley will speak, read from her book and sign autographs at the following book events. Readers can purchase books at both events, at national and local book retailers, or online at www.christalpresley.com.
HodgePodge Coffee & Gallery, 720 Moreland Ave., SE, Nov. 14 at 7:30 p.m.
Barnes & Noble, 120 Perimeter Center West, Nov. 16 at 7 p.m.