Everything I Need to Know About Feelings, I Learned From '70s Soft Rock
In 1978, when I was eight years old, my favorite things were my Barbies, my rainbow Mork and Mindy suspenders, my tennis shoe roller skates, and my little box record player with the handle.
I had a tattered, blue record case full of hand-me-down 45’s from my older siblings: The Beatles, CCR, The Eagles, Steppenwolf, Three Dog Night, and The Bee Gees. And then I added my own selections to the stack: Juice Newton, Olivia Newton-John, Michael Jackson, Toto, Diana Ross, and Foreigner, to count a few.
I also boasted an assortment of K-Tel “As Seen on TV” compilation albums, one of them a '70s Soft Rock record. It was a Greatest Hits of all the couples’ skate songs on rotation at the roller rink.
No one had asked me to couples’ skate yet, but I wanted to be prepared.
Over and over, I’d listen to Dionne Warwick, Peaches and Herb, The Commodores, and Smokey Robinson croon about finding love, love that was lost, and love that was never meant to be.
I didn’t really understand what they meant, but I felt those feelings deep down in my little eight-year-old bones.
And I began to learn at that young age what it means to feel things alongside other people, even though you’re not experiencing the exact same things yourself. It’s called empathy. It’s a life skill that develops when you pay attention to it.
Some people have paid a lot of attention to it, and others, not so much, unfortunately.
Empathy is the currency of feelings. It’s how we trade and share what we’re going through with each other. It’s how we connect, bond and support one another. It’s the way we step outside of our own narcissistic bubble.
Feelings are what drive us emotionally, as humans, and therefore dictate the climate of our relationships, right? How another person responds to our feelings, either with empathy or not, determines whether we stick around to have a relationship with him or her.
This is where life gets tricky.
We simply can’t live in harmony with other human beings who don’t understand, honor, or respect our feelings. We can’t coexist with someone who says, “your feelings are not valid, and you should not feel that way.”
Because just like the sun rises in the East, those feelings? They are not right or wrong. They are what they are, and I believe God put them there for a reason.
From an early age, I’ve had someone telling me my feelings are not valid, whenever, of course, they didn’t align with hers, or the way she thought I should feel. Probably because someone had done the same thing to her.
At the age of forty, I began to realize this painful truth.
I’ve never been to therapy, but I know this much: my feelings are authentic, and no one, but no one, can take them away from me, tell me they are not okay, or that they are invalid.
Today, I am making a choice.
To not be disrespected. To not be disregarded. To not be discounted.
To Rock the Boat, even if someone cries, "Man Overboard!"
All the makings of a so-bad-it's-good '70s soft rock song.