After much contemplation - and THANK YOU to my commenting readers! - I have determined why I am so stuck on this issue. Like many of us, I am operating out of a place of woundedness, where nothing I have or can do can fill this hole inside me. It is chiefly lack of self-love. I am thinking it is because I am not well acquainted with the notion that I am lovable or worthy of love. And so I do not love myself.
I am learning that the love I have for others is merely a shadow without loving myself.
But old habits are hard to break, and old ways of thinking - 40 years' worth of self-derision, to be exact - are hard to reverse.
Having patience with myself is hard when I am lost.
Thanks for caring enough to read my words. It helps me heal and find my way.