Contact the author at Gesyuk@gmail.com
My emasculation at the age of 8
I was born in Russia in 1971. In 1979, my family and I emigrated to the United States. Shortly after we entered the country, I was circumcised. I was eight years old.
My parents were talked into circumcising me by our 'family' physicians. My father was convinced that this was the 'right thing to do' because he was told that I would be ridiculed, shunned, and shamed by others. He was afraid that I would be seen as 'not normal.'
My mom was talked into this because she was told that an [intact] penis would be seen as 'dirty' and make me 'susceptible to disease.' In other words, this unnatural procedure would be good for me. So my parents consented to emasculating me out of their love for me, and in the hope that I would 'fit in.'
It was a horrifying and traumatic experience for me. Nobody prepared me for 'the procedure.' Nobody told me what was going to happen. It took ten people to hold me down. I was an 8 year old boy screaming for my life.
My eyes were swollen from the overwhelming flood of tears. My nose was running, and the snot was pouring down onto my face. As the doctor was forcefully rubbing the snot from my lips and mouth he said, "Relax. There is nothing to be alarmed about," and added, "Everything is going to be ok."
After being forcibly subdued, I was told to count backward from 10 to 1 with a mask over my face as they administered the anesthesia and put me under. I was anxious and terrified. I was filled with near hysteria as my mind and body went numb.
There was some part of me that knew that something awful, irreversible, and life-altering was about to happen. Afterward, I woke up alone in sheer agony and terror. The pain was excruciating.
I shrieked and screamed. All I could do to feel some relief was wail and cry. I felt butchered.
I was butchered.
I was terrified and alone. I remember sitting up and curling into my pain, screaming and rocking, trying to soothe myself.
People rushed in and most likely drugged me. I found myself going under again as a group of men held me down.
Tears are running down my face as I write this. This is where I first became acquainted with my lifelong companions... helplessness and terror. It was a bizarre feeling.
Everyone in my family was sympathetic toward me, despite having alienated me from them by inflicting this agony on me. They would wince every time they saw me sit down. They empathized with my agony while taking no responsibility for my pain. Even their empathy wounded me.
I remember thinking to myself, "Why the fuck would you put me through this if you love me?" More tears now... this is where love and intimacy were encoded as being dangerous and unsafe.
I fast forward now, and think of how every intimate relationship I have ever had has included a secret exit strategy. The more intimate the relationship became, the more endangered and unsafe I would feel. The more endangered I would feel… the more urgent the need to exit would become. The more love I received, the more unsafe I would feel. The more unsafe I would feel, the more certain I would become that I was losing my 'manhood.' The secret message in my experience was that the path to manhood in my family (and in our society) included literal and metaphorical emasculation.
After 'the procedure' I wore boxer shorts for a month. Walking was painful, sitting down was anguish, and finding the right position for sleep was torture.
In the midst of all this, the messages I was receiving from my family were: "What a brave young man you are!" and "How strong you must be to handle such a thing!" The perverse truth of my experience is that being emasculated was my rite of passage into 'manhood.'
It was dismal and bleak to be me when I was eight years old. On the inside it has been dismal and bleak ever since.
But it is getting better for me now. Sharing this is part of the reason it is getting better. Allowing myself to feel is how I heal. My story is unusual. I was eight years old, and conscious when this happened to me.
For hundreds of millions of men around the world this wound is inflicted at birth. We men are wounded by circumcision at nearly the moment we are born. This happens at a time when we have no words for our feelings. This happens to us at a time when we are most vulnerable. This happens at a time when we are most reliant on our caregivers for love and protection. We are irreversibly wounded without knowing why. We are traumatized when we have no words to give voice to our pain.
Many men feel the after-effects of this trauma without ever being able to identify the source of their feelings. My hope is that my story will serve as a window into the previously unknown source of disconnection, alienation, and isolation that so many men feel without ever understanding why.
Sharing this story with you is me viscerally coming out of the pain closet. My hope is that this expression of my wound will help you connect with and heal your wound.
If this story resonates with you, please share.
More Men Speak: