Our hearts melted into one another’s in instant recognition during that first hug. Two bodies reunited after 36 years...two spirits connected by the mother-daughter bond which can never be broken. Only shame, guilt and remorse fed the fire of apparent separation. Only forgiveness would dowse the flames and complete the circle of love.

Thirty-six years before, I had given birth to my first daughter. With a breaking heart I honored my parents’ wishes that I not marry my first love, and I released my baby for adoption. I emerged from the stigma of "unwed mother" with emotional scars so great that my only defense was to bury them and pick up my life as though nothing had changed. So successful was my denial of the gaping hole in my heart that, as the years passed, I could not even remember my child’s birth date.

How was it possible then, some 30 years, four children and two marriages later, that I found myself in a class of spiritual counseling students with six other women who shared a similar past? Birth mothers. Our secret became our magnet, and we began to meet on a regular basis.

Together we began the excruciating journey of dredging up our pain. We faced our demons - guilt, shame, blame, anger, self-recrimination - and we prayed for one another and all those whose pain we share. That atmosphere gave me the courage to face my walls of defense and denial. The process was agonizing. Not only was I delving into the shame and pain I had caused my parents and siblings by becoming a pregnant teenager, I began to recognize the hatred I held for myself for not having fought for what I wanted...my mate and my baby. I had to acknowledge the shame of having sinned according to the church of my childhood as well as the mores of 1961 society. As I unleashed one tidal wave after another of suppressed feelings, I verged near the edge of emotional overwhelm. Somehow, the depth of my desire to find my daughter, to tell her how much I loved her, to share with her that she was conceived in love, kept me going.

And so I searched...and I prayed...and I began to forgive. I forgave my family, then my boyfriend, then the system that had sentenced me to my fate. I realized that without self-forgiveness I could not free myself from the maze of negative self-judgment which had tarnished the beauty of the birth of my daughter. If I were to welcome her with truly open arms now, I had to find the good in my being her birth mother.

I focused on feelings of compassion for the teenager I had been, in love, passionate about life, wanting to express that love any way she could. I helped her to let go of the pain of her loss and her feelings of isolation. I consoled her when she cried, told her how much I loved her, promised her I would not let her suffer like that again. I reassured her that she is not and never was a "bad girl," a "sinner," an "undesirable good-for-nothing," and a "cause of pain to others."

It took months, even years, to work through the layers of self-recrimination and loathing I felt for myself. Freeing myself from the burden of that past through self-forgiveness has given me a new life. Rather than anger and resentment toward myself, my family, my first love and my pregnancy, I am grateful for one of the greatest growth experiences of my life. By coming to terms with my past, the gift of compassion was ignited in me - a gift I share with all those I teach and counsel.

The miracle experienced from my commitment to forgiveness is the profound love I share with my first-born daughter, a love reactivated the moment we hugged. We have completed the circle that began with her birth.

Author's Bio: 

Diane Harmony is the author of the best selling book and prosperity course, "5 GIFTS for an Abundant Life: Create a Consciousness of Wealth", and founder of 5 GIFTS, an organization devoted to upholding our mission: To awaken humankind to our Infinite, Abundant, Nature. An ordained trans-denominational minister, Diane is an inspiring speaker and compassionate teacher. Visit her at http://www.5GIFTS.com