Will I Be My Valentine?

I’m 46 years old. It’s fair to say I’m past half-time. I’m the mom of three incredible daughters. I’m the ex-wife of one, ex-girlfriend of a dozen or so, and ex-lover of a few. I have sought LOVE like it was my oxygen, always feeling more alive, more worthy, more worthwhile, and let’s face it, prettier, through the eyes of someone else.

valentine, valentine's day, self-love, self-care, self-respect, self-loathing

Oh Lord. Why does self-love have to feel so corny?

Or am I the only one that feels that way?

Maybe it’s just the words we use to describe it. Or maybe it sounds corny from the “outside”… before you’ve actually tasted its sweet honey.

Well damn, I intend to brave the corniness at least until I can figure out what it’s like on the “inside”.

valentine, self-love, self-care, self-loathing, isabel cooney, isacooney,
So Will You? © isacooney 2020

I used to be so totally into Valentine’s Day. In elementary school we decorated brown lunch bags with our name and plenty of hearts. Then we dropped little cards — or sometimes love notes — into each other’s bags. A virtual, temporary mailbox only for sweetness.

We should all go around with one of those around our necks, come to think of it. Inviting others to say sweet stuff to us every day.

But see? I digress. It only took me 137 words and I already got off track. I guess this is as good a time as any to come clean to whomever may be reading this.

I’m pretty good at loving other people. I crave to be loved by others. And I suck, royally, at loving myself.

Much of my life I have been a good girl (aside from a tendency to rebel, as well as a slight relish for shocking “proper” people). I like to please, I like to get good grades, I like to figure out what the right thing to do is, and if it feels good to me, I like to do it.

So I can only presume that if, from a young age, I had been taught that loving oneself was the most essential romance any person could have—that it would make me truly happy, as well as healthy, and successful in my other relationships and endeavours, I probably would have done it. Maybe. Probably.

But as we all know—because I imagine that this problem affects the vast majority of us—things do end up getting in the way of that innocent bliss that childhood can be.

My teenaged daughters are excellent reminders of this horrible fact: young girls can recite a litany of all the features of their faces and bodies that are wrong, imperfect, even hideous. And all the reasons they don’t deserve love. Society says it wants us to succeed and be productive citizens but that’s bullshit because really (mostly to support the endless selling of crap) society wants us to feel we aren’t good enough.

If there was any love that we naturally felt for ourself before stupid thinking got in the way, it’s most likely gone now. It is widely acceptable and expected that we will find ourselves lame and undeserving of love (someone else’s but especially our own).

And that in a nutshell (plus a million other events that crystalized and thoughts that perniciously became beliefs) is how I got here.

46 years old. It’s fair to say I’m past half-time. I’m the mom of three incredible daughters. I’m the ex-wife of one, ex-girlfriend of a dozen or so, and ex-lover of a few. I have sought LOVE like it was my oxygen, always feeling more alive, more worthy, more worthwhile, and let’s face it, prettier, through the eyes of someone else.

I’ve learned over time (and am still figuring it out) that asking someone else (without actually saying it) to love me for him, and for me (since I don’t know how to love myself and I’m embarrassed just saying those words) is actually quite a tall order and a recipe for freakin disaster.

So I figured, today, Valentine’s day 2020, is as good a day as any — Cupid’s day, Lovers’ day, red doily heart day, sweet candy and roses day — for me to begin this inquiry which is beginning to feel urgent. And embarrassing.

But it’s OK. I am embarrassed but embarrassment has always been a feeling I could handle. And if you are here with me, it’ll be a piece of cake to plunge into all this weird gooey stuff they call … self love?