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Don’t Let Her See Me Cry
a Mother’s Story
by Helen Barnacle
- ISBN: 9781863252263 (1863252266)
- Release date: July 14, 2000
- Author: Helen Barnacle
- Language: english
- Genres: memoir, biography, autobiography
- Format: paperback, 368 pages
- Publisher: Transworld Publishers (Division of Random House Australia)
About The Book
How do you make a decision about when it’s best to let go of your child? Is there a mother out there who could give me any advice? I doubt it. Having Ali taught me about unconditional love, she gave me the reason to continue living …The dreaded day arrived … ‘Helen Barnacle to the front gate.’
The sound pierced my ears and my heart. I held Ali in my arms tightly and walked towards the prison gates… ‘Don’t cry’, I kept repeating to myself. Don’t Let Her See Me Cry. Don’t upset her. I can’t let her see me cry,’ I chanted this mantra over and over and over …I passed Ali through the prison gates to my brother, Ron …’Bye-bye, Mum,’ Ali said. ‘I love you.’ And with her little hand waving over Ron’s shoulder, they turned and walked away.
Don’t Let Her See Me Cry is the sort of bestseller that comes along only once in a lifetime. It is the gutsy, moving and inspiring true story of one woman’s remarkable journey from a hopeless young heroin addict facing a 15-year prison sentence with a newborn baby to a successful psychologist, drug counseller, prison reform campaigner, and mother and best friend to Ali — the daughter who gave her the courage and determination to survive.
Sentenced to the longest drug-related prison term ever meted out to a woman in Victoria, the discovery that she was to become a mother was far from welcome news to Helen Barnacle. The irony was that this tiny helpless being gave her a new lease on life — and a reason to hope. Helen’s love and devotion for baby Ali led to her winning an historic battle. In a landmark decision she became the first woman allowed to keep her baby in prison beyond her first birthday.
But three years later Helen had to face every mother’s worst nightmare and give up her daughter. While she knew the time had come for Ali to leave the prison for her own good, this did not make the decision any easier. Ali had become her reason for living. Handing her daughter over at the gates of the prison almost destroyed her.
In utter despair she resumed her love affair with heroin and was on a hopeless path of destruction until she was caught using in prison. Her brother Ron, the only person who had stood by her, gave her an ultimatum-if she really loved Ali she had to stop thinking of herself and find the courage to live.
Helen had first to overcome her lifelong addiction with heroin, a crutch she had relied in since her youth to overcome her feelings of worthlessness.
Thanks to the support of staff at Fairlea’s Education Centre the former musican began to rediscover her love of music and study classical music, as well as writing and performing her own work for the Fairlea Drama Group, which evolved into the highly acclaimed SOMEBODY’S DAUGHTER Theatre group. Helen also began a Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in psychology.
After leaving prison 12 years ago, she completed her post-graduate studies in psychology and after two years supervision was employed as a psychologist specialising in drug and alcohol problems at TaskForce Community Agency in Prahran.
Over the next six years she ran workshops for judges and magistrates, counselled both drug workers and addicts, presented papers for national and international seminars, wrote the drug education booklet ‘Tentative Steps’, and rose to position of Drug Program Director. She also established a pilot project in the Juvenile Justice System using drama and the arts as therapy with young offenders.
Don’t Let Her See Me Cry is the story of the power of the bond between a mother and daughter, a brother and sister, of finding love in the most unexpected places, and of the strength of the human spirit.
The story of Barnacle’s life ‘inside’, how she fought to keep her daughter with her and how she remade herself makes an inspiring, confronting tale.
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