Ruth Clare

ENEMY by Ruth Clare

“My dad’s conflict didn’t end when he left the battlefield. It continued on forever inside him, sending shockwaves into the hearts and souls of his family.“

Enemy centres on Ruth Clare’s experience growing up as the child of one of the one of the 15,300 Australian Vietnam veterans conscripted to fight in the Vietnam War. Her father was among the large number of Australian Vietnam veterans who developed PTSD following his military service. His behaviour was unpredictable, controlling and violent and Ruth learned to walk on eggshells in his presence, watching and waiting for the next attack to come. After he left, her Mum didn’t cope, becoming depressed and alcoholic. Ruth and her siblings were left largely to fend for themselves.

During her childhood she experienced eight adverse childhood experiences, completed her final year of high school while living without any parents and was the first person in her family to go to university. Enemy is a story of survival, of rising above the worst of circumstances and using the transformative power of compassion to heal.

Why did Ruth write ENEMY?

Ruth wrote ENEMY because she rarely read children’s stories of domestic violence, not only as witnesses to, but as direct victims of, violence. She wrote ENEMY because she wanted to raise awareness of the high price families of veterans can pay for their partner or parent’s military service, especially if veterans don’t receive adequate support to feel safe and find their feet again when they are discharged. She wrote ENEMY because she thinks difficult conversations about the things that hurt us is the first stage to recovery and growth. She wrote ENEMY, because she wanted others who had been through similar things to her might know they are not alone.

What do other veterans and their families say about ENEMY?

This book changed my life

As a daughter of a Vietnam Veteran, a nasho in particular, I could personally relate to Ruth’s beautifully written, heart wrenching account of what it’s like growing up with a father suffering PTSD from the war.
I couldn’t put it down as I wept through the pages and finally started my own healing at aged 50.
For the first time In my life, I felt that it was not only me and this was the validation I so desperately needed.

Ruth’s courage to share her story, made a pathway for me to foster a deeper relationship with my father,
I was able to finally feel empathy, understanding and forgiveness for him instead of blame and resentment, and I am so grateful that he is still with us.

I truly think, without this book, I would’ve never known any different, as it is a story that it seldom told.
We need more books like this, highlighting the life long impact of war not only on it’s veterans, but their families, particularly the innocent children, who can end up with enormous psychological challenges. Thank you Ruth.

Crucial reading for anyone who is the child of a Veteran or more specifically a Vietnam Veteran. I honestly couldn’t possibly feel more validated by a book if any other book dared to try. Just when I thought it couldn’t grip me one more time, it gripped me over and over again. I wasn’t even born in the same decade as the Vietnam War, but it lived on in my fathers wiring in some strange way that could do nothing but have a major impact on my life and psychological makeup from a young age onwards. The parallels described here are a conversation I’ve been needing to have with someone (even if in book form) for my entire life.

Through memoir, storytelling, research and interviews Ruth Clare paints a picture of the heartache and fallout of being the child of someone living with PTSD from the Vietnam War. She describes with great empathy the how’s and why’s of this particular war having such a different impact compared to earlier wars including the sense of shame experienced by those who returned; something which only further compounded their symptoms and most likely made them even less likely to seek out the full extent of help that they so truely needed.

The descriptions of being a child who was always on high alert and who had developed a hyper vigilance that no child should have to for fear of winding up in trouble (over and over, again and again and again) for something completely benign or not even a thing are all too familiar.

Most important to me was the moment that Ruth described how in later years her father had no real memory or recollection of how things really were when she was a child (impaired memory being a byproduct of PTSD), a symptom which I have also discovered that my father experiences. She expressed gratitude for having siblings who could corroborate how things really were and describes how she would have felt insane if she were an only child forging forward with everything completely unacknowledged or denied.

I was the only child… but this book made me feel for the first time like I had a witness for things and ways that will never be fully acknowledged in my lifetime. I’m very grateful to Ruth for pouring her heart into writing this difficult but very important book. Thank you.

Ruth’s book sears through your soul like a red hot poker and conjurs an unsettling image of her young father, fresh off the battlefield in Vietnam, bloodied, horrified and shocked to the very corners of his being, now standing in the lounge room of his Queensland home, imposing his personal horror on the family he must surely love.

As a veteran suffering from PTSD who raised three daughters, Ruth’s fearless sharing of her experiences both shreds my being and thrills my heart with her love, optimism and forgiveness. Ruth makes an invaluable contribution to modern war history in publicising the real cost of war, and of the partners and children that carry the burden behind the medals. This story needs to be heard. It is my prayer that the American market discovers this book, they desperately need to journey through Ruth’s story and find healing. Thank you Ruth.

After a recommendation from sister-in-law I organised a copy Ruth’s new book and set about reading. I devoured the first chapters, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to throw up or cry, such were the parallels to my own experiences.

Ruth’s insight, perception and articulation brought back vivid memories of growing up and living constantly on eggshells, living with regimentation; her fears for her young family are familiar pangs.

For anyone who grew up with the scars of a war service in their family and home, this be a harrowing but rewarding read, I literally could not put the book down. Whilst I will admit that this isn’t necessarily a cathartic read for me, the author’s journey is compelling and I find hope in it’s conclusion and the book’s message. That we should all be so gracious in the face of adversity.

Ruth Clare is an award-winning author, TEDx and motivational keynote speaker, professional actor, qualified scientist and authenticity, resilience and change expert who learned by necessity, first to survive, then to thrive. Ruth weaves research and hard-won lessons with powerful, relatable stories from her lived experience overcoming adversity, to help others find the courage to own the stories that are holding them back so they can rewrite their lives. With a rare knack for distilling the neuroscience and psychology of human behaviour into simple ideas and practical strategies, Ruth shows people how to embrace uncertainty, stay hopeful when times are tough and harness their potential for growth and change. Ruth’s TEDx talk, The Pain of Hiding Your True Self, has had over half a million views.