“Get away from me!” I yelled, tears streaming down my face. Looking up, I pushed someone to the ground in a fit of rage, realizing only has the body fell in slow motion that I had pushed a girl.
It was the 8th grade lunch break and we were all on the basketball court. I attended a few different elementary schools, but I spent all of my middle school years at one school. Between elementary and middle school, we moved to a new, much more diverse area. It was my first time attending a school where more than one or two other black students were in my class.
In addition to the cultural adjustment, at nearly 6-feet tall, I was also noticeably bigger than almost everyone else at an age when you’d really like to fit in. My continued growth spurts resulted in general lack of coordination. Athletics were difficult as a child, but at least I could dance; if I couldn’t do anything else, I could dance my a** off.
Somehow, I became entangled in a one-on-one basketball game with a fellow 8th grader on this particular day. I had gotten pretty good at telling jokes, but my desire to fit in got me into a pickle and I found myself competing with someone clearly better than me. I took a shot and must have looked extremely goofy. On top of that, I was already losing. The goofy mistake was the icing on the cake and our fellow classmates ensured I knew how extremely goofy I looked. I heard every voice individually: calling me a name, making fun of me, laughing and mocking me.
My anger built to a level and I started to boil over, losing the ability to control my emotions. I lost the game and a crowd surrounded me, increasing the mockery and jokes when they saw me become emotional. I lost it and pushed the closest body to me. Unbeknownst to me, I pushed a girl; not just any girl, but Kenya. Kenya was always nice to me, and like me, Kenya was a subject of teasing and mockery quite often.
So not only did I do the only thing my parents told me never to do, but I did it to someone who was like me. As soon as she fell, I realized what I did and reached to help her up. I never had the opportunity for repentance; another kid stepped between her and I and put up his hands to fight. One look at his jeering, smug face and my emotional rage returned.
I raised my left arm to swing, but a kid grabbed that arm from behind me. I raised my right, and another kid grabbed that arm. A third kid grabbed me by the waist and pulled me against the basketball pole, holding me while I yelled and screamed like an animal.
I wanted to hurt someone because I was hurt. I was enraged, with no way of coping with the trauma of experiencing continued rejection.
The relationship between anger and crying is an extremely close one. I like to call them siblings. Crying is the older sibling, having been through enough to understand how to release the emotion. The younger sibling, anger, wants things to go its way and hasn’t gained the maturity of releasing that pent-up energy through an expression that doesn’t serve ego.
What is actually happening when you get angry? Energetically, where you place your attention is where you place your energy, and your ego has no desire to feel weak. Your ego is there to serve itself; not the whole. Your ego is the part of you that says, “I don’t need help, I achieved this all by myself.”
Your ego doesn’t like crying, especially in masculine energies. When you cry, you release energy, and anger desires to build energy to use as a weapon. Has anyone ever told you, “I didn’t mean to say that, I was just mad.”? Through anger, we use our ego to protect our true self, which is the vulnerable part of you – usually the child version of who you have become. These traumas stack up on each other until the adult version no longer understands how to access the vulnerability of the now-hidden child.
When we are born, all we do is cry. We cry for everything because that’s all we have. It is literally our only tool of expression. Let me repeat myself: tool of expression. Once we start to grow, we forget that crying is an emotional tool.
As an adult you would not be very pleasurable to be around if you cried about everything like a baby, but hyperbolics aside, we cannot ignore the fact that crying remains an emotional tool. Anger increases blood pressure and elevates your heart rate. Anger releases adrenaline and tightens muscles. Crying allows your muscles to loosen up and emotional tears contain manganese, which is a mood-regulating element.
Crying is the balance you need to calm the body down from the stress spike that anger creates. Now you can understand how an angry-cry can be beneficial. We need its balance. When we overuse a reactive tool like anger and don’t balance it out with something like crying, we tend to act more erratically. Anger is a reaction in which crying is a response.
Don’t get me wrong, crying can also be a reaction but it’s a mood-regulating reaction. It is much healthier for you to cry than to use ego-empowering anger and risk taking that anger on someone or something else.
We need to remember to humanize each other. We are not robots; we are extremely complex organisms that have been given tools to regulate our humanity. The next time you find yourself in a fit of rage, stop and just give yourself a good ol’ snot-nosed, lip-quivering cry. I know that sounds weak or funny, but trust me, your body will appreciate it and there is nothing you can do that is more human.