There are moments when I lose touch with myself.
My full, real self.
A cloud comes over my perception of reality and prevents me from seeing clearly.
In 2015, my husband, Judah, and I took a trip to Europe to celebrate ten years of marriage. One stop along the way was Prague. Without fail, every person we talked to when planning our trip said we had to go to Prague. No further explanation.
When we got there, we understood and agreed. Prague is a beautiful, old city that has been well-preserved. The architecture is stunning, and there is a feeling in the air that is hard to describe. It must be experienced firsthand.
Not on our itinerary, but also found in Prague, was a Museum of Torture.
It is worth noting that on this leg of our trip, we befriended a girl in her twenties named Paola. She was traveling alone but was part of our group. She tended to keep to herself, but Judah and I had taken her under our wing and tried to invite her along for things when we could.
Judah and Paola were both interested in the Museum of Torture.
Museums make me tired.
When watching violent movies, I close my eyes, plug my ears, and hum to block it all out. If I can’t sufficiently block it out, I leave the room.
Torture makes me leave the room.
The idea of torture makes me scrunch up my face and want to leave my body.
Museum of Torture? Yeah! That sounds like a great idea! Sign me up!
Somehow my brain blocked the two key words: museum and torture.
It was as if I’d heard “Afternoon of Connection.”
While discussing it, I really did think it was a great idea.
We bought three tickets and headed to the third floor. The museum was set up top-to-bottom. You started on the third floor and walked down the stairs to the subsequent floors.
That’s all I can tell you about the set-up because that’s about all I saw.
We entered the third-floor exhibit and came face-to-face with a device, a drawing of how it was used, and a written description.
I stepped forward as if approaching a benign artifact. It was a device used to impale people up the butt. They would be lowered down onto its sharp point … and I’ll just leave it there because I don’t even want to think about it.
Suddenly, the cloud lifted and the words “museum” and “torture” were front and center in my mind, on a DNA level, and in the pit of my stomach.
Alarm bells started going off in every cell of my body. Mayday. Red alert. Abort. Abort. Abort.
What was I doing there?! How had this happened?!
I took a step back from the display and turned, rigidly, toward Judah.
“I can’t do this.”
He was not surprised. He had not forgotten how I’m wired and had been shocked that I had been so gung-ho about the museum in the first place.
While he and Paola took in the rest of the third-floor exhibit, I studied the stairwell that would lead us down to the second floor and attempted, unsuccessfully, to remove the impalement devise from my mind. I tried to convince myself it wasn’t historical and had never been used on a real human being.
I accompanied Judah and Paola down the stairs to the second floor but didn’t pretend I wanted to engage with anything it might have to offer. I hung out in the stairwell, turning the entrance fee over in my mind, wondering if the stairwell was worth the price of admission.
Finally, we made our way to the first floor. I did walk around a little after Judah had done a preliminary sweep of the displays. From what I remember, there was a case of chastity belts made of metal. While I wouldn’t want to wear one, it wouldn’t give me nightmares.
I find myself in this predicament from time to time. I want to share experiences with people, but I am a delicate flower. I have a very vivid imagination and a weak stomach for physical pain, especially when it is intentionally inflicted with ill will by another human being. I don’t want to see violence on a television screen even when I know it’s “just actors” and not real. How much worse to walk through a museum detailing actual ways in which people have hurt one another throughout history?