I don’t have much to report on my progress of my foreskin restoration journey. The skin continues to get looser and looser, benefiting me more and more sexually, but there’s no visual change. I am, however, experiencing a positive change in my feelings toward being circumcised, which has come about through therapy. I saw a therapist before who helped me toward my decision to restore my foreskin, as well as how to talk to my parents about their ill-informed decision to have me circumcised when I was born. After those sessions ended, I felt that mental health professionals has done enough for me and that, in time, hopefully the issue would affect me less and less.
Unfortunately, however, as the months wore on, while my feelings improved slightly, they were still interfering with my life. It seemed that every other week for a few days I would have a very depressive episode where negative thoughts and feelings surrounding the circumcision issue would flood my mind. Thoughts like “Why did this happen to me?”, “How could my parents let this happen?” “Why aren’t more people seeing this as big as an issue as I’m seeing it?” I felt distance from other people during these days and felt a sort of bitterness toward them. It got to the point where I finally admitted to myself that further therapy might benefit me.
I’ve had five sessions already with another therapist and things are starting to improve (not that there was anything wrong with the first one, I would recommend him to anyone, it was due to other circumstances that I’m seeing a new one).
My therapist and I talked about a lot of the things that were bothering me and we went through CBT (Cognitive behaviour therapy) and she showed me how thoughts influence feelings, which in turn influence behaviour, which in turn influenced thoughts again. It was a vicious cycle. We first discussed how to possibly break this cycle. Were there any repetitive behaviours that I was doing that were influencing thoughts? There indeed were. I was checking various foreskin restoration internet sources several times per day. I was also in the habit of looking down my pants several times per day to see if I could see any progress to my foreskin restoration efforts (sometimes I could see progress, other times I couldn’t, depending if some of the skin was covering the glans or not). We came up with a partial solution during the first session for me to stop doing these actions as frequently. Instead of doing these things several times per day I instead would do such checking whether it be on the internet or on my own body only once or twice per day.
I noticed a slight change in my mood. My mind seemed to cling on to the circumcision issue less. At a subsequent session, we further discussed my anger over the circumcision issue to see if we could tackle the thoughts and feelings themselves. We talked about how it was affecting me and how it appeared a lot of people were simply “not on board” with the circumcision issue as much as I was. Everyone I talked to seemed to be more or less against circumcision, but they seemed to take a practical approach to the issue rather than an emotional one like me. Their messages were pretty much the same: I should accept my circumcision state, accept the fact that it was done in my best interests, and to simply not circumcise any sons I have since it is now a more controversial practice to do so. As for foreskin restoration, “do it if you want to, it’s your body” and as is especially the case with females “don’t tell me the details on that.” This wasn’t the exact wording that a lot of people used, but it was the message they were sending me: a practical message. Mind you, I completely agree with everyone on this advice. Yet the fact that I couldn’t find anyone to connect with emotionally about it made me feel very lonely. It was as if everyone was dismissing my own feelings about it, which ended up affecting my relations with others negatively. I felt alone with the issue and it certainly felt good to let these thoughts and emotions out to my therapist.
Then at the last session I had with her (which was just this past week), we talked a lot about this problem. She prompted me to think of ways why other men would be less upset about this issue and why it was indeed affecting me this much. It could be, for example, that since most men knew from a very young age that they were circumcised that they did indeed have strong feelings when they were first found out about it, but that it lessoned over time, whereas for me it was only about three years ago that I found out I had been circumcised.
They could have found done a lot of sexual experimentation to find out what they like and don’t like and have found that a circumcised penis gives them what they like. I’ve also noticed that, unlike me, a lot of restoring men are homosexual or have male family members and/or relatives who are intact and, as such, they would feel weird. For heterosexual men, however, they might care less about male genitals since it is only their gentials that are affected by it, but not their partners’. A homosexual man, on the other hand, would place more concern on anything to do with male genitals since it not only affects his own, but also his partners’.
As another point, some men could generally feel less lonely than me because they have had plenty of girlfriends or boyfriends, while for me I’ve never gone out on a single date, which I will admit has trigger loneliness in the past for me. I want to say, however, that all this speculation between me and my therapist was simply to help me accept that others would be less emotional about the issue than me and, as such, I cannot say if any of these reasons have any basis in fact.
We also talked about the concept of advocacy in general. The world is filled with many problems, circumcision being only one of them, and that not everyone has time or the energy to be emotionally invested all of these problems even though they may know what the issues are. For example, there are issues regarding environmentalism, human trafficking, animal cruelty, etc. The list is practically endless. While I do have strong opinions about such issues, I am not as emotionally invested in them as I am with other issues such as circumcision. Different people will be drawn toward different issues depending on their life experience, how a particular issue affects them, their personal philosophy, their upbringing, etc. My therapist also said that in order to connect with others, it is not necessary to be emotional about the same exact issues. Such insights I feel are really helping me to heal and get rid of my ruminating thoughts and feelings regarding the circumcision issue.
Even though it’s only been a few days since that session, I feel more accepting of others and find I can connect more with others on other issues, even if we don’t connect on the circumcision issue. It was as if a weight was removed from my shoulders, an obsession that was weighing me down. It’s been an utter relief to be getting the therapy I need. I hope it all continues to get better.
Love always, Jake Norman (pseudonym), foreskin restorer and intactivist.