aunt, Black Lives Matter

On Anger

My thoughts are all over the place this week — I don’t think that’s uncommon. Bear with me as I share a few ideas on anger. 

Maggie’s technique

My niece has a unique way of showing her anger — at least I’ve never seen this kind of display before. You can tell it’s about to happen because she gets a defiant look in her eyes, and then she rips off her shirt and throws it. Depending on her level of anger, her pants and underwear might be next. It’s interesting to me that while feeling these very big feelings, she allows her body to be completely vulnerable. Once the clothes are off she uses her entire body to scream — stiff arms by her side, hands clenched, mouth open wide and her bright red face. 

This girl knows how to show her anger. 

I do not

Acknowledging my own anger

I didn’t see anger a lot growing up. I didn’t see my parents fight. There might have been arguments, but very few of them were in front of us. So, fast forward to my adult relationships and I had no idea how to handle my big emotions. I usually just ended up crying.

However, as relationships progressed, my behavior changed. I remember one night being so angry at my boyfriend that I went out the back door and slammed the fence gate as hard as I could. I repaired it the next day. 

I’ve slammed doors. I’ve yelled. But mostly I cry because I don’t know what to do with the anger that wells up within me. I certainly don’t want to take on Maggie’s technique!

Vulnerability

However, there is something about her willingness to become completely vulnerable that has me thinking about the way we express our anger. Throughout the years I’ve seen others bear their vulnerability as they display their anger.

Standing between the police and black protesters. 
Walking hand in hand down a street toward law enforcement.
Sitting on the ground.
Resisting violence.

All of these are acts of vulnerability. Why? Because they aren’t armed to fight back. In fact, in some circumstances they put themselves in positions that keep them from being able to protect themselves. 

And yet, all of those individuals and groups were angry. Angry enough to let themselves be put in harm’s way.

Necessary anger

Others show their anger in more demonstrative ways like knocking over trash cans or breaking store windows. However, from what I’ve heard and read, most people who are truly angry about something aren’t the ones actually causing harm. It’s the chaos makers doing the destructive work. Most angry people are too focused on the issue at hand to worry about throwing bricks when they know their own lives are in danger. 

The anger we see today is justified. The anger we see today has built up from hundreds of years of systemic oppression. The anger we see today is necessary. 

I have cried, but only with my husband. It’s not time for me to be crying in public. It’s time for us to be angry, to listen, to pay attention. It’s time for us to use our anger to make change, to support Black lives, to do more than share posts. It’s way past time for all of that and more. 

I’m finding ways to channel my anger, but not like Maggie. I’ll let her keep that to herself. 

peace.

on anger

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