Every time I think about my circumcision, I get mad. At first, I wanted to direct my anger at the "doctor" who cut off my foreskin, because I saw him as bearing the most blame/guilt. Since I was unable to find him, I thought of directing it toward my mom--at that time, I had thought "she's the one who signed the 'consent' form, without which the foreskin-ectomy would not have been done, so she's second-most responsible even if she did not give truly informed consent" and "my dad is just a victim, same as me; he's not responsible". Later, my mom apologized after she repeatedly saw me become upset whenever I thought about circumcision.
A few days ago, my dad agreed to read the anti-circumcision articles I had read (I haven't sent them to him yet). Yesterday, I realized that, beneath noble reasons for sending him the articles like "Dad's talked a lot about honestly examining why one wants something. I don't want him to be a hypocrite, so I'll have him honestly examine 'why did I want my son to not have a foreskin?'", there was "I see circumcision as a crime, and I want the guilty party—my dad, since he's likely the one who first proposed my foreskin be removed—to know the extent of the damages; I want whatever revenge I can get".
I’m /still/ bitter, even though I’ve made progress with foreskin restoration. I have two ideas for outlets (although they seem healthy to me, they might not be):
1) send my dad those articles.
2) play Skyrim, and role play my character as embittered by a bad experience he had; really get into the role (this is similar to my childhood tactic of “play violent videogame and pretend the enemies I’m brutally dismembering are the person I’m mad at IRL”, but with more immersion into the game world). I don’t remember how effective my childhood tactic was, so I’m not sure how effective this version will be.
Do you have any suggestions for healthy outlets?
Mitch (age 20)
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You may or may not have read this column in which the issue of circumcision is discussed in detail. So, I’m not going to go over circumcision again, and, instead, I am going to address the practice of letting go of one’s anger and resentment about things that happened in the past.
With regard to your particular experience, you should first recognize that your parents (and the doctor who performed the operation) were not doing it to hurt you. They did it because they felt it was the right thing to do for you at the time. Even just 20 years ago, attitudes about circumcision were still in the “it should be done as a matter of course” phase. That has changed a lot since then, but your parents (and the majority of people in the world) were pressured by society’s norms to do what they did. (Not to make light of what you are suffering, but it could have been worse: be glad your mother wasn’t pregnant with your at a time when thalidomide was prescribed for morning sickness).
I don’t think that either of your ideas is a good plan: both just continue to feed your anger and resentment. Your purpose of forcing your father to read articles about circumcision is a passive-aggressive act designed to hurt him (make him feel guilty) as a matter of revenge, and it won’t restore your foreskin. Hurting someone because you have been hurt results in an endless feedback loop of pain and suffering and only makes things worse, not better. Your mother already acknowledges what happened and, I believe, your father knows you’re upset, as well. That’s enough. (And, even if you found the doctor, what are you going to do? Yell at him? Try to hurt him, too? Pointless.)
Similarly, playing Skyrim as a way to express your anger and hurt will only make you feel more angry and more hurt.
Human beings have a tendency to respond to anger and pain with anger and pain. This, put simply, is why we have never-ending wars in the Middle East and Asia and it is why we have terrorists. I think you would agree that neither of these is a good thing, yet you are currently of the same mentality that leads to violence. It is the wise person (a rarity) who lets go of the past and looks, instead, toward the future.
Therefore, instead of trying to get back at people, focus your energies on doing something positive. The first thing you can do is join IntactAmerica’s efforts and help spread the word about the negative effects of circumcision. Do this as a matter of educating people, not striking back in anger.
But the other course I would recommend more highly is to do positive things in your life that have absolutely nothing to do with circumcision. Instead, they allow you to find something happy to do that gets your mind off of negative feelings. Join other organizations or causes and volunteer your services to make the world a better place. There are, quite literally, thousands of things you can do, depending on your interests. For example, I just read about the International Ocean Cleanup going on this September (and every year). Well, before I go into a long list of charitable and environmental exercises, I think you get the point.
In other words, to relieve yourself of your anger and bitterness, substitute it with positive and joyful activities and causes. Look forward, not backward.
Forgiveness is not an easy path. But you might start by buying your mother some flowers and giving both parents a hug. Tell them you understand they weren’t trying to hurt you and tell them you love them. You might be surprised how good this makes you feel.
Love, kindness, and forgiveness are the true cures for hatred and resentment.
It works. Trust me. Blessed Be,
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