I have been somewhat vague about my family's role and participation in all of this mess, and describing their participation in this seems like it might be important. I should state first that none of them directly know about this blog, nor do I intend on telling them about this blog.
As my parents divorced a couple of months before I was born, only one of my parents had the decision to make about circumcision, and this was my mother. Were my father present, as I later learned, he would have still had the circumcision done, even if I were intact by the time he first won full custody of me when I was one-and-a-half years old. In short, I never had a Sno-Cone's chance in Hell of keeping my body intact.
I have spoken to my mother, long divorced from my father, once already about my botched penis and the pain, in spite of my father's urges not to do so. I spoke with her again as of late, after the surgery. Last time she said to me something along the lines of "I'm sorry that you feel this way and that that this has become an issue for you." It hurt so much to hear that from her.
Things change when you go under the knife once more. This time around she was sorry. She didn't articulate a direct apology for having me circumcised, but she said she was sorry for the pain I went through, back then, and today. She tried to weakly justify her choice as a tradition (of the US, not of a religion that we don't have), but at the very least she showed remorse and questioned her decision 21 years later in retrospect.
This is the extent of what I expect from her, and I am taking it and pushing things no further. She wasn't malicious back then, just misguided. In spite of the terrible things that have happened throughout my life, my botched circumcision included, I have always been able to forgive her because she feels grief. For simply being my one parent able to admit mistakes or feel grief she earns my love and my respect, and I can forgive her. This alone, for reasons I cannot fathom, grants me some semblance of peace of mind.
(Lest I forget, Judith, my thanks for the kind comment you left me in my first entry!)
As my "go-to" parent is my father, and in spite of him not having to make this decision years ago, he has been by far the most difficult to deal with about this. He marginalizes the literal physical pain I have been through, and is in blatant denial about circumcision even being possibly harmful, probably due to his own state of circumcision (his father is intact, so do the math). He was born in the age of hospitals simply doing it while cleaning up the baby after birth without parental consent, and I feel that the state of the difference between him and his father contributes to his unrelenting attitudes of what I refer to as "cut superiority."
He so desperately wants to believe that what was done to him was the right thing and that it made things better for him, and it is obvious. For him to admit that what was done to me was wrong would be to admit that what was done to him was wrong, and I don't think he wants to front with that because it would be emotionally difficult and fundamentally emasculating for him.
The mere notion of letting a stranger take a knife to your child's genitalia with no anesthesia being unethical is beyond him, and he clearly doesn't want to think about it in these terms. As a result of this, he spews forth irrationally misanthropic things about how much he thinks the world hates foreskin, or how having an intact penis means that people think less of you. I prefer not to elaborate further on such things here, but his words do disgust me.
I express remorse about the new scars on my penis from the operation a month ago. "It's your dick" he barks. "What do a few more scars down there matter? Everyone has a scar down there. It's normal, so get over it you f***ing pansy" (this is seriously what he said). No, father, it is not normal, and this interaction is not normal. What if I never wanted to have any scars on my penis in the first place? Granted, his attitudes about the penis may have changed considerably since his divorce 21 years ago. He doesn't understand that I find it difficult to cope with the fact that I have a scarred penis without ever having tried physical intimacy. The insecurity I feel about this having possibly ruined things for me down the road shows through, I guess. At any rate, this aggressively dismissive attitude from him is not really that comforting.
This is merely the cherry on top of it all, the apex of the difficulties I have had with my parents, especially my father. One of them has done all I can expect to redeem herself for this and for other things. The other is incapable of admitting fallacy about anything, and I doubt he ever will be able to do so.
At any rate, I will likely continue holding them both at a disgusted, emotional arm's length away, much as I have done for the majority of my life.
My sister with whom I am very close knows of my situation, but not of my strained interactions with our parents about this. Our family is the type that shares almost everything on our minds, at least on my father's side, a quality for which I am grateful. It means that no topic is taboo for us to discuss, sexual matters included. Speaking with her about this, I learned that she has, independently from all of this, been in her own way a supporter of a man's right to have an intact body for a few years, now.
My sister is a few years older than me, and in lieu of our parents who really didn't pick up the ball in taking care of us as children until a year or so after our grandparents stepped away, she adopted a role as a primary caretaker in my life, which I feel adds to the mutually understood and unconditional trust between us. Speaking about this with her, she says that she remembers me articulating something being wrong with my penis as a toddler when she would bathe me, and was wondering if I would ever bring it up again. I was surprised that she remembered this for so long when neither of our parents knew before I brought it up.
This sister is already married. When I told her about my botched circumcision operation, without any provocation on my part, she began talking about how circumcision was wrong. She wasn't always conscious of this, but she stated that when she started thinking about it a few years ago, she felt that the things they say in hospitals seem like fear-mongering tactics employed by hospitals and by culture to justify what we already do. "It's bullshit," she said to me.
She later told me that her husband is intact, has no problems with his foreskin, and that the reason that he managed to escape the hospital in one piece was because his mother started crying when they asked her the question of "do you want to circumcise?" "It's natural; being intact isn't a problem like people say it is," my sister tells me. We have confided in each other that we will both be leaving our children intact in private covenant of sorts. It won't be a problem for her to try to justify this with her spouse, understandably. I only wish I could face such certainty with my future wife and in-laws. Perhaps my future career as a medical professional and my experiences of this will put weight behind my words. I can only hope.
In addition to this, my sister and I have spoken about whether we want to have our children exposed to our parents, as neither of them are very emotionally healthy people. I don't want to go into too many details, but it is that bad, I fear. On top of our parents' more obvious short-comings, having heard the biased and degrading things from my father's mouth about circumcision, I can think of at least one parent I don't want hanging around the hospital when my nephews or my own sons are born, or even bathing them, ever.