"what it would take to love myself right here, right now, as I am?"
Turns out it's pretty hard to do on a continual basis. We may have moments here or there when we are full of love and adoration for who we are, but it is often interspersed with moments of doubt and dread. The challenge becomes a bit more complex -- how do you love yourself through those moments of doubt, not in spite of them?
Thich Nhat Hanh once described anger as "a howling baby, suffering and crying. The baby needs his mother to embrace him. You are the mother for your baby, your anger. The moment you begin to practice breathing mindfully in and out, you have the energy of a mother, to cradle and embrace the baby. Just embracing your anger, just breathing in and breathing out, that is good enough. The baby will feel relief right away."
The same can be said for almost every single negative emotion -- doubt, fear, anxiety, hurt, etc. The more we ignore it, the more the suffering grows. To be able to invite doubt, fear, anxiety, hurt, etc., into your heart is a profound experience. Negative emotions need as much (or even more) nurturing than the positive ones. Negative emotions need a place to exist and feel safe until the moment has passed. Your heart and mind are strong enough to hold and understand both the positive and negative aspects of life without any dissonance or discord. Your heart and mind can reconcile these feelings.
If we can invite ourselves into our heart (instead of to some food) in the moments when we feel unlovely, unloveable, or unloved, we find a vast expanse of compassion there. This is where the seed of worthiness is planted. If one is able to "make love of [one's ]self perfect" we find the patience and space to work through these feelings -- to figure out what is real and what is perceived. When we connect to ourselves, we may feel vulnerable, but in the end it is often how we connect to each other, and in turn feel loveable and loved.
Yesterday was a hard day for me in the whole feeling unloveable department. The worst moment was my father's incredulous response to my statement that he's the only man to have ever brought me flowers [or anything] on Valentine's Day.
I can understand all the people who feel that it's a contrived holiday (despite its history/tradition) for cards, chocolate, gifts, romance, sex, etc. But when you've never had a valentine, it's a reminder of your loneliness. It's a reminder of the times at school when your milk-carton mailbox was empty at the end of the day, or no one sent you a lollipop. It's a reminder of your own history [or lack thereof] with romance.
Contrived holiday or not, Valentine's Day is the day that reminds us that there's someone out in the world that loves us even on our bad days, not just the good days. Or it reminds us that, once again, we have to be the person that loves our own self on those days.