I found your post interesting. Specially, I find extremely curious that you think “loving yourself” was based on spending effort and money on yourself and your appareance. Love cannot be something extrinsic, as no feeling can be. Spending loads of money or effort on somebody does not make you love him/her, so why would that work for yourself? I find astonishing you went through that path for a full year without questioning it.
I ask you, were you really loving you when you did what you did becouse you wanted to be able to love? I don’t think so, I feel you were putting obligations on you. And actually, when you let yourself go, you gave yourself permission to be yourself and then you could love yourself. You made it through “a higher being”, God, in this case. Loving Him made you feel you could love yourself. But it may have worked by any other way you could have given yourself permission to love yourself, I think.
The path to love needs acceptance, and self acceptance is a tricky one.