Many people cry as a response to stress, confusion, and anger. For the purpose of this article, I’ll be going through the subject of angry tears (angry crying) and try to answer a question you might be asking yourself right now: “Why do I cry when I get angry?”.
I’ve noticed that whenever I cried due to anger, it’s been because issues were piling on top of each. Later on, those issues catapulted me towards lacking a sense of control where the lack of control would then move me to angry tears.
In a way, angry crying can be shown as being something like (1+1 = 4) for all you math people. The two 1s would be (the issues piling up + sensing a lack of control = the sum of both multiplied by 2). Get it? When we angry cry, it can be because we start to feel our problems multiply in a nonsensical way.
As I mentioned in my post on How to Control Anger | 10 Tips on Anger Management, anger is generally a response to a problem that we’re facing without an immediate solution.
As a species, we are obsessed with being in control. What we eat, where we go, what we do, and so much more, everything in our lives follows a controlled rhythm that we’ve set to our needs.
When we feel like we’re losing control, we can easily overreact and feel a sense of helplessness which, to some, leads to crying.
Over the course of my life, I’ve generally only come across 3 main reasons for angry tears. After my past experiences, I’m pretty sure that most of these reasons are pretty much the same for most people.
1. Feeling humiliated
As a teenager, I was as angry as anyone could possibly be. I used to slam doors, punch walls, and scream until my voice turned hoarse like sandpaper being rubbed on wood.
I always thought myself above my peers and thought that I was always onto something that nobody else was. Essentially I had a superiority complex, which I later learned was just a mask I used to hide my real feelings of inferiority and failure.
When we are humiliated, we can almost feel our heart shriveling… We may react with anger…We may also internalize the trauma, leading to fear and anxiety, flashbacks, nightmares, sleeplessness, suspicion and paranoia, social isolation, apathy, depression, and suicidal ideation.The Psychology of Humiliation – Neel Burton | Psychology Today
How it happened
When I was 9, I moved from the Philippines to Canada with my Mom to be with my Dad who lives in Canada. Shortly after our move, I found out my Dad was cheating on my Mom so I told my Mom about what I’d found. After that, things quickly started to spiral out of control.
When my parents’ relationship ended, I thought I was the reason for it because I was the one who found out about my Dad’s affair. I remember always blaming myself whenever I used to hear my Mom crying early in the morning and well into the late night. “I wish I wouldn’t have told her, maybe we could still be together.”.
Fast forward a few years into junior high: My group of “friends” at the time used to always leave me out whenever they went places so I kept on feeling sad that I was being left out. I thought I wasn’t good enough and that something must have been wrong with me for them to not want me around.
I kept trying to think of ways to change myself. From my clothes, to my hair, and even to my cologne I tried it all but nothing I did worked as I’d intended. Still being left out of the circle no matter what I did, I felt humiliated.
Piled on top of the years I spent bottling up my emotions from still thinking my parents’ divorce was my fault, I became completely imbalanced. I lashed out at family members, never listened to a word of advice, and spent most of my free time being a grumpy little monkey.
By the time I was 12 or 13, I had a ton of anger issues that just kept getting worse as time went on. Mainly, it was because I always kept things in and never talked to Mom about my feelings because I was afraid she would think something was wrong with me.
Around this time was when I first started crying out of anger, frustration, and humiliation which lasted well into high school.
2. Feeling overwhelmed
When I was around 13 was when I first started getting really overwhelmed by my emotions. Some days I’d wake up in a daze and not even know what was happening. Looking back, it felt like my body was on auto-pilot and my mind was just going along for the ride. It was like I knew what was happening but I had no control over my actions.
Several years since our move to Canada, I was still holding my emotions in and keeping my insecurities to myself. More than that, I was amplifying my fears and torturing myself about how life for my parents would have been different if maybe I’d never been born in the first place.
Would they be better off if I disappeared right now? At the time, the answer I came up with was yes.
I was angrier than ever. Angry that I “caused” my parents’ divorce, angry that I was just a little kid without any money, angry at my Dad, angry at my Mom, I was angry at everything and everyone without really even knowing why.
Have you ever looked at the role stress has in anger? Many people say that stress is more prevalent today than 20 years ago. Likewise, others say there is more anger (road rage, workplace violence, and so on). Stress can certainly create a variety of problems. If you are prone to anger, then stress will likely increase your angry behaviors.The Link Between Anger and Stress – Buck Black | MentalHelp.net
As the days kept blending together into one big pot of mixed up memories, I eventually hit what most people would call “rock bottom”.
On several occasions from the ages of around 13 to 15, I constantly thought about suicide.
During that time, I had 3 major suicide attempts:
1. I took a kitchen knife, tried cutting myself and almost stabbed myself in the heart
I’d become so resentful and depressed that I stopped valuing my life and even thought it was better if I never existed.
One day, I acted on my impulse of thinking it would be better for my Mom and Dad if I were gone. That way, they wouldn’t always be fighting about legal stuff.
So, I went to our tiny apartment’s kitchen, grabbed a big chef’s knife the size of my teenage arm and started cutting myself around the chest while trying different knife placements. I was trying to figure out the best position to stab between my ribs and into my heart.
As fate would have it, I was stopped by the sound of keys poking around the front door. Those keys meant my Mom was home.
Quickly, I woke up from my stupor and I still remember feeling a rush of shame, fear, and anger about what I’d just tried to do. In a hurry, I put the knife away, ran to the washroom and took a shower while crying my heart out. When I came out, I acted like nothing had happened and that was that.
2. I tried suffocating myself
Several months after my first attempt, I got into another cycle of depression, anger, and confusion after my Dad made me literally eat paper because I was having difficulties understanding my homework.
The second time I tried to kill myself, I did it in the comfort of my own bedroom. I laid down on top of a huge pillow, hugged it so tightly that my face couldn’t move around, exhaled and held my breath.
My second attempt ended with me passing out and unconsciously rolling off of my bed. To be honest, I don’t remember much after holding my breath. However, I do remember waking up in a warm little pool of my own piss.
3. I nearly jumped off a 3 story building into a parking lot
I really don’t even remember what made me want to kill myself the 3rd time but it was probably something that had to do with me feeling completely alone.
I’m sure I was angry at myself for being so weak and incapable of doing anything to help my Mom. Over the years, I noticed she was having a lot of trouble keeping us afloat as a single mother and a new immigrant no less. I knew she was struggling and that was heartbreaking.
So, I went out onto our apartment’s balcony, climbed over the railing and almost jumped.
What stopped me, I really don’t even remember. I completely blacked out after climbing the railing and just staring at the parking lot for a short while. When I’d woken up again, I was laying on the living room floor beside our big couch, hugging my backpack with a face covered with tears and snot.
3. Feeling tired
Ever wake up and just have a head full of random anger? That’s probably got to do with our busy lifestyles which lead many of us to overwork and burn ourselves out. With less rest, we become easily irritable and very snappy. Even more, we get triggered much easier and can get overwhelmed by our problems at the drop of dime.
Ever seen a grown woman angry crying just because they didn’t get their ice cream? I have. Not a pretty sight.
If you’ve noticed yourself working too much and find yourself getting irritated more easily, maybe you just need a bit of a break. Take some time off and get yourself sorted out. You’re no good to anyone in an irritable state. After all, who really wants to deal with an emotional time bomb?
Ways to address angry crying
Tying into the lack of rest mentioned before, sleep is one of the most important factors that comes into play when we want to live healthy, balanced lives.
Getting enough quality sleep at the right times can help protect your mental health, physical health, quality of life, and safety.Sleep Deprivation and Deficiency – National Heart Lung and Blood Institute
Meditation is also a form of rest like sleep. However, instead of dozing off and having our sub-conscious minds take us to the castle of our dreams, meditation allows us to resolve our issues and re-affirm our values in a way that sleep doesn’t allow.
Some people feel better when they write down their problems in a journal as a way of venting to one’s self. In my experience, this doesn’t really work for me at all because I find it much easier to re-center myself through sleep and meditation.
Hobbies are great for unwinding. We can pursue our passions to our hearts content and be free of our problems for the duration of time we spend on our hobbies. In my case, I love making music, reading books, and playing with my pets.
To recap, those 3 main reasons for angry tears are:
Anger is a completely natural emotion, don’t shun it. In the same way, crying is a normal bodily function that we use to help cope with our problems. I hope you found this article insightful. Don’t forget to leave a comment below and share this article if you know someone who could benefit from it.