"What's wrong with you? I can't touch my own daughter? Fine, I'll never do it again. I know you don't get this from your mom or me."

My dad's voice echoes in my head as I stock the shelves at the local supermarket called "Hal's". Can after can of vegetables; I try to keep these thoughts out of my mind but whenever I get this time to think, they just come straight back.

I remember him stomping out of the room after he said that. He passed me without giving even the slightest glance, and it burned me from the inside out. My cheeks were heating up. I was ashamed of myself. All he was doing was playfully poking me in the side and I flinched like he was going to beat me. I couldn't help it. It was a natural reaction I had. Nobody ever psychically abused me. Why was I so touchy? So standoffish even to my family?

I looked at my mom and she was concerned, but never said a word. She shook her head and then continued watching the news with her coffee cup in hand. I knew... nobody understood this about me... truly. They couldn't, because they've never felt this way. I can tell.

I was 18 then. I had no friends. I have a sister, but no friends. My sister was all I had, and still, all I have... besides my cat 'Momo'. My sister, Layla, is the only one who understood me. She was 14.

I'm 25 now and out on my own. I've only lived on my own for a year and a half now. It's refreshing, but I can't seem to kick that fear of being touched by anyone.

I stop stocking the shelf for a moment and look down both sides of the aisle. I'm alone. It's so quiet today. All the employees are spread out across the store. It's relieving.

I lower my head and then slightly look up again at the cans with the little happy face labels on them. All this thinking just brings me back to the day I went to see the OBGYN doctor. Of all memories, this one plagues me just as much. Probably worse.

I was 14 at the time.

The moment I laid down on the table, my heart started to flutter. I tried to keep everything under control. The lady was nice and very personable. She did make me feel a little more comfortable about things, but after a couple minutes, all that she said was becoming just noise to me and the room was starting to get darker. Oh no. Not this. Not now! I started getting a tiny bit sweaty. I breathed in deeply and slowly let it out. I smiled faintly, though I really had no idea what she just said to me. I smiled even though, deep down, I was getting a little angry at myself for being such a freak. That's how it was for me. That's how I saw myself.

For a little bit, I could control my anxiety. I did everything possible to relax.

But... things were getting too intense for me. All I could think of was what was happening down there. What was she doing down there? Just one wrong move, and it would be painful. Something bad could happen.

The room was getting so dark and my face was flushing terribly. I really wanted to get up and get some water and just go sit down, away from everyone... everything. I wanted... no... I needed to be alone.

But I couldn't.

I squinted and then looked up at the light. She is a trained doctor. You'll be fine Grace, you will. This is nothing. But these thoughts didn't help at all. I squeezed the fabric beneath me. The doctor straightened her posture and asked if I was ok. That was a huge relief for me. She saw the anxiety in my face. I was so surprised I hadn't passed out. I stuttered a little as I asked for a cup of water. She nodded and went to get it for me.

I didn't pass out. I really thought I would. Somehow, I made it through that doctor's visit. I told mom how it all went, and though it did frustrate her a little bit, she was proud of me. Genuinely proud of me. That small ounce of warmth and... acceptance still sticks with me. I'd like to think of it as acceptance.

While I may suffer from this anxiety... I always make sure to remember she was proud of me that day for being able to soldier through that moment.

I feel my eyes starting to water. Quickly, I wipe under them and hurry up with stocking the shelves.

Out of my peripheral vision, I see a customer come down the aisle. It's a mother pushing her daughter along in a shopping cart. I look at them for a moment, and the question hits me...

...Could I ever have children?