I deleted this post over five years ago, back when I was testing for SJPD. I didn't want to be judged for it and have it keep me from being hired, so I removed it. I have been meaning to repost this for a long time and am finally doing so now.
In your reading or studying or life thus far, have you come upon any significance, whether symbolic or otherwise, of the forearms? This has plagued me for quite some time.
For whatever reason, the forearms have had significant "power" and meaning to me throughout my life. There have been a few in my chosen household over the years that felt this strange significance as much as I do, though none of us can effectively describe it to our satisfaction.
Considering I grew up in a Judeo-Christian society, it is possible that the crucification image dropped something into my brain. There are Chi (not the stuff you drink, lol) lines that run along pulse points from elbows to wrists that are supposed to be some of the most potent in existence (assuming one believes in Chi). Native American tribes sealed bargains of great importance by blood-bonds (joining cut hands or wrists to mingle blood). The "Warrior's clasp" of Roman and Celtic tradition is a clasp made at the forearm rather than simply shaking hands. The "marriage clasp" of Eastern European tradition is the same as the warrior's clasp.
The forearms have always had some deep significance to me. It is where I used to cut myself when I was younger. It is where I still phantasize about cutting myself every time the urge resurfaces. It is where I had envisioned slitting myself upon my departure from this earth. And it is where I have greatly pondered getting tattoos that are of great significance to me as a person.
I do not voice this for sympathy. Only insight. If I am judged for talking openly about it, then so be it. I will not judge those who judge me for discussing this. I understand. Cutting carries with it a preternatural stigma. If you cut, you are broken. Most find unfiltered veracity in communication to be disconcerting, to say the least. I am not and was not crazy. I was just a scared, wounded little kid with a lot of pain and *NO* one to talk to. I was alone with all my demons to keep me company. (I don't wish to "slay my demons", as the saying goes. I'd rather sit and talk with them over lunch. They usually always have something interesting to say.)
When a friend of mine (Matt R) was in junior high, he carved an M into the belly of his left forearm. He never really knew why he did it, but he remembered telling people that it was for "Me", not necessarily his name but just for “me". One of his best friends who has been through a lot, including the suicide of his father, also carved an M into his forearm. When Matt asked him what it was for, since he has no M's in his name, he said that it was for "Myself, my mom, my girlfriend, and for you”, and also that he didn't really know why he did it. When my friend told him that he carved an M into his arm in junior high for "Myself" they both got a little freaked out since at the time that my friend did it, they hadn't even met, and when his friend did it, he had no way of knowing that my friend had done the same thing for similar reasons (if there was any).
Along with the symbolic significance of the forearms, there was a deep need to see my own blood when I was a kid. (I now have permanent scars to remind me of it.) I think it must have been symbolic of release. Or perhaps self punishment. Or yet it could be something else. I think it is symbolic of release and, being painful, also of making atonement (self-punishment), but there is more to it.
Perhaps it just be some psychosis of sorts, though I argue otherwise. Self-mutilation is an amazingly common response to stress. Animals do it. A stressed out bird will "preen" itself bald - pulling out strongly attached feathers until it literally bleeds to death from several tiny wounds. Snakes will shred their flesh on rocks even when not in shedding-season. Some animals will scratch themselves deeply and repeatedly when under stress, etc.
Pain is a shocking experience even in relatively small doses. Perhaps subconsciously we self-inflict pain to, a), stimulate the production of endorphins, and, b), stimulate the production of adrenaline. We're giving our body the added push it needs to produce chemicals we don’t have in adequate supply to respond to the stress we’re under.
Also, there may be an instinct to bleed one's self in order to *lower* some chemical in the blood -- after all, less blood also means less [insert chemical of your choice here]
Although, I think the bloodshed may in fact be an external embodiment of what we are feeling within, a manifestation of our own pain into a tangible for the external senses to experience as well as the inner. I think sometimes it is just a desperate need to get something intangible yet real out of my system by any means necessary.--As though I’m trying to fix something…though not knowing what I am trying to fix. Being practical, I cleaned the wounds in warm water and alcohol (I never went anywhere for medical care) and both hurt like hell. I just wanted to bleed. I needed to. It was strangely therapeutic for me, and still is in times of extreme stress and duress.
As for my departure from this earth, I had pictured slitting up the belly of the forearm from wrist to elbow. (Just think Terminator-2.) I could picture myself sinking into the warm water of the tub and as the blood flowed from my body, I would be consumed with an overwhelming sense of "Aaahhhh". An overwhelming sense of finally having *peace*.
Actually this is extremely painful. The water makes your wrists and arms throb horribly and that usually starts your other muscles cramping as your nervous system pumps adrenaline into a still body. It generally sucks.
At the end of the first pint (if someone doesn't find you before you bleed that much), you're quite dizzy, have probably vomited at least once (usually pure bile as most people do not slash on a full stomach) and you get a migraine from the change in blood pressure.
By the end of the second pint, your ears start ringing horribly and you get a bit feverish. You now really want to be away from the water, just to make the nausea stop, but the nausea is an after-affect of losing the blood, so escaping the tub (which you can't really do because your feet are starting to fall asleep) is not likely. By now one usually decides this was a really poor choice and perhaps you should have slit your jugular so you could have bled faster.
By the third pint, you're both fevered and shivering, and your lips are blue. Your entire body aches because every capillary you have is constricting in a desperate attempt to conserve your much-needed fluids. At this point your eyesight starts wavering. Somewhere between dry heaves you might manage a strangled cry loud enough to bring someone from the next room over.
Overall, wrist slitting is highly overrated. Perhaps Nicotine poison is a better choice. Take the tobacco from three cigarettes. Put them in a solution of 90% isopropyl alcohol. Boil. Repeat. Boil the mixture until it dries, then grind it up into a powder. Add powder to drink of choice. You have fifteen minutes. There's no fast-enough acting antidote. If you're more given to homicide than self-destruction, strain and press the tobacco and boil away the left over liquid -- the resulting powder is colorless, odorless, and tasteless in any liquid and dissolves completely without stirring. This is not a joke; I do not suggest one make this material for fun. Possession of it in this form is usually an automatic felony in most states.
I do not understand the significance of the forearms, but I feel it very deeply.
Nor do I fully understand the urge to cut, or more precisely, the urge to bleed. (It is not so much the cutting as it is the bleeding that brings the greatest calm, at least for me.) I still do not fully understand it, but I still feel it deeply at times of greatest stress an duress, and when I feel I am the cause of losing something I cherish.
No one talks about cutting. If you cut, you are broken. The shame, embarrassment, fear of being judged, fear of being committed, fear of being accused of seeking attention, and more, those feelings, combined with a sometimes crushing depression or overwhelming feeling of being alone, and it never is discussed. So no one talks about it. I’m not seeking attention or sympathy by talking about it. It is simply a part of me that I am trying to understand, and maybe it is not as preternatural as the stigma it carries with it.