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Saturday, December 28, 2013

S.O.S.

I'm not sure if I should be blogging while I'm in this state of mind, but I'm going to anyway.
I'm not usually one to pity myself; shit happens basically. I've had children looking up to me all my life. First my siblings; they depended on me to entertain them for the hours our parents weren't home, to figure out what to eat when I wasn't old enough to use the stove; to keep them focused when we had to do our homework and stop whichever baby from crying when our mother wasn't around to breastfeed. When I had my own children I had to do some of the same things, but on top of that be a better example of a mother than what my own was. And that included protecting my daughters from my father. 
  



My father favored my children which also created animosity amongst everyone else. There were so many  psychologically confusing dynamics in our family that it's made me somewhat of a pro at dealing with stress in my life today. In addition I feel like I have to project a certain level of togetherness and strength to those around me. I can count the times on one hand that my children have seen me cry. Eighty percent of the time that I'm sick, I still go to work and school. Depression is not an option and if I feel a rut coming on I get exercising, or writing. You may ask; what is your point Aziza? And my reply is: despite the fact that I am doing well considering what my life has been there are times that I need help. But I have a serious problem asking for it. 

                                                                           

When my father would come into my bedroom when I was nine, he'd tell me that telling my mother would make her go crazy and I'd never see her again. And this was only one of the many lies he used to confuse his daughter to maintain control. After beating me because I tried to fight back when I was twelve, he said that my compliance gave him the strength to take care of the family.  I became use to having a lot of responsibility with little assistance.  There were decisions I had to make as a child that effected my entire family. And I was led to believe that if I asked for help the result would end in someone else's peril or sacrifice. Today, I don't want to put anyone out of their way, or have them inconvenience themselves for me. It's natural for me to put the needs of others in front of my own, but I have to convince myself that I'm deserving of the same treatment. Which is work in itself. So If I have a problem or a challenge, I pull up my boot straps, buckle down and handle my own business. But just lately I've been feeling  overwhelmed. There aren't enough hours in the day, days in the week, weeks in the month or months in the year for me to get all I have to do done. At the same time if I have a day where there isn't as much to do or things can't get done because they are outside of my control, I feel useless and unproductive. 


                                                                         
What am I suppose to do with myself? And that question is not rhetorical either. If anyone reading this post has any suggestions, I implore you to let me know. And while I'm at it, if you know a literary agent, a publisher, an editor, how to write a grant proposal, a financial advisor, a lawyer and have suggestions on dealing with a fourteen year old boy who's father is his grandfather who happens to be in jail for molesting, beating and raping his mother; please tell me. Because I need some help. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Power of Knowledge

I have one more day in my fall semester at Essex County College. I'm anxious about my grade in my most challenging class; French.  I also took African American History II, Biology 101 and Cinema appreciation to go towards the fulfillment of my communications degree. I'm thinking about things like maintaining my grade point average, and what am I going to do after I graduate. There was a time I never thought I'd have concerns like making it to class in the morning, or getting an assignment submitted on time. And here I am a full fledge college student. 

I sit in class on some days, distracted by the young adults around me sighing out loud in complaint of the Professor's homework assignment. It was frustrating for the progression of my African American history class to be hindered by students that didn't appreciate the opportunity to get an education. There we were, watching a film on the sacrifices people made to improve the quality of the educational system, and the young people watching were uninterested! I just didn't get it. If they only knew what it was like to want to go to school, and not be allowed to.


My father homeschooled me until I was 11. Before he stopped teaching me, he promised that I would go to high-school. I looked forward to the day I'd walk through school doors and sit in a classroom with other students. Well, while under my father's rule, that day never came.  By the time I was 14, my dad banned education among me and my siblings all together. Any teaching I did of my brothers and sisters, I did in secret. I had to worry about my father finding worksheets I created for my sisters to practice their handwriting. I got nervous any time he walked in on them reading a book. So when I watched a film in class on Fredrick Douglass, showing him sneaking around to learn to read, I became overwhelmed with emotion. That film and any others like it themed in slavery, connects to my life growing up on so many levels. Therefore it pains me to see others take the opportunity they have to get an education for granted. 




Kermit sacrificed himself for science and education. 
Learning French gave me a better understanding of English. I've seen the inside of a frog up close and personal. I learned that the free school breakfast my kids eat in the morning, is thanks to a man named Heuy P. Newton; and instead of just watching a film, I can't help but analyze the editing, cinematography and Mise-en-Scene.


I didn't get the chance to walk through school doors and sit in a class room with other students until I was 35 years old. And most of the other students are my daughter's age. I may feel a little uncomfortable when one of these kids wants to give me attitude like I'm their peer, because I'm harshly reminded of my seniority over them. I've even had professors 8 years my junior which is a test in humility in itself. But I'm not embarrassed and I'm not ashamed because I'm using my opportunity to get an education for all it's worth. Better late than never, is what I say. 


Food for thought (this time it's literal):

In January, 1969, the Free Breakfast for School Children Program was initiated at St. Augustine's Church in Oakland by the Black Panther Party. The Panthers would cook and serve food to the poor inner city youth of the area. Initially run out of a St. Augustine's Church in Oakland, the Program became so popular that by the end of the year, the Panthers set up kitchens in cities across the nation, feeding over 10,000 children every day before they went to school.[1

Monday, December 9, 2013

Giving Thanks

I look forward to the holiday season. I love to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family and I revel in the smiles that come after someone opens a gift I gave them for Christmas. 
My father stopped us from celebrating holidays some time ago. I don't even remember exactly when, but I remember controversy between my dad and my mom's family surrounding Christmas,
My Apple Rosemary Turkey
Easter and Kwanzaa every year. When my aunts tried to give me and my siblings East
er baskets, he didn't allow us to except them because he said they purchased them after Easter, when the baskets went on sale. Sometimes I was allowed to keep the toys my extended family gave me for Christmas; that is until my father threw them away before spring the next year. 
Well, now that I have my own family, I make sure I make up for lost time. 
My first Christmas after I got my children back from foster care, was especially memorable. I couldn't afford a christmas tree so I bought a spiral "tree" made up of lights from the supermarket. I
My famous Macaroni and Cheese
spent most of December that year  checking the newspaper for community programs that were giving away presents to low income families. I made my way around to four different organization collecting wrapped boxes that said 'boy' or 'girl' so I could make the small space under our vertical light display overflow with boxes with items 
inside unknown to even me. I was determined to make my children's first christmas at home with their mother, just like the holiday episodes of popular sitcoms. And I did. The smiles on my children's faces, and the excitement in their voices, made me feel like the best mother

in the world. The effect that their response had on me the first Christmas I created for my family, motivates and will continue to motivate me every year. And yeah I know there was conflict on the first Thanksgiving day, and there's confusion about what day Christ was born on; but the tradition of cooking food, cleaning house, planning outfits, shopping for presents, and decorating a tree, all for the people that are most important to me; well.....just makes the logistics about dates and origin seem unimportant. I love to watch my children enjoy the fruits of my labor and I adore when my family wears or uses something that I gave them.  
I, pray for the Native American souls that were taken during the first Thanksgiving, just like I acknowledge the celebration of the day that Christ was born. But the most important thing to me is being able to appreciate and celebrate the holidays in my own home (and sometimes at grandmas house) surrounded by my children. And for that, I am truly grateful. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Soroptimist International says; Aziza Kibibi: A Mother, a Survivor and an Inspiration!



This is an amazing opportunity for mother's like myself to help live their dream. This award helped me with school, music lessons for my children and allowed me the freedom to finish writing my book.
If any of my readers are interested in applying for the Woman's Opportunity Award, please contact me and I can mentor you in the application process. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

When Dreams Become A Reality

When I was a preteen, one of the ways I escaped the stress and confusion that resulted from the abuse my father inflicted on me was to sleep; and dream. I'd use the spare time I had during the day between chores, homework and caring for my siblings, to close my eyes and descend (or ascend) to a place that I felt I had control over what went on in my life. In my mind I'd hold visions of mansions with endless gardens of roses; wardrobes full of pretty dresses, and every My Little Pony toy I could think of, until I drifted off to sleep. I hoped that the pictures in my imagination would manifest during my slumber so I could live in an ideal world free of responsibilities, violence and the sexual pressures my father put on me. 

The only other time I used sleep in this way was when my daughter died. I internalized my emotions and spent most of my days sleeping while my children were in school. I tried to hold the image of my daughter in my head hoping I'd see her in my dreams. Today my dreams are still very vivid, but in a different way. I've done everything from coming up with story ideas for books, solving problems in my life, while I slept; literally. I even found the remote control for my television with the help of a dream, lol!, and my life's dream to raise awareness of child molestation and help other women and children are becoming a reality.

It wasn't until sometime last year I found a way to use my dreams in yet another way.
I'm a single parent, working, in school and running a business; but finances seem to always be a challenge. My children are all musically inclined and I would love to get them music lessons. But that takes money. We are limited in what we can do for fun as a family because all income goes to bills and education. We go to the movies during a.m. hours to take advantage of matinee prices. We've been in our house for three years now, but I just got cable. And going out to dinner is a luxury my budget won't allow at this time (it's a a good thing I can cook my butt off). Then one night I dreamt I got a scholarship. I wasn't even sure what a scholarship was, so I hit the internet and finally came across some that I qualified for. One of these opportunities meant to ease the financial burden of furthering one's education, was through a women's organization called Soroptimist International. When I Googled the organization further, I found they had a sub organization called Live Your Dreams dedicated to bettering the lives of women and children (can anyone say candidate?). Oh the irony! 
A picture Soroptimist International took of me

I signed up with the organization right away and applied for the scholarship. To make a long story short, after two essays, a few months, and some references from some very good friends, I won three different levels of what the organization calls the Woman's Opportunity Award! The funds couldn't have come at a better time, and along with other things for my education and family, I got my children music lessons!

When I'm up late at night studying for a test, I take short naps. While I sleep the information seems to process within my dreams, and while in class I can better recall what I read. When I have writer's block for a paper, I read the research then sleep for a while, and when I wake up my block is gone. One day during psychology class my professor asked us to test if our brains retained information better if we go to sleep after reading it. The class was split in the results, but for me it's always worked.

My dreams mean many things. I use to use them as a form of escape during my traumatic childhood. In many ways I'm inspired by the vivid scenarios in my head while I'm resting. I've went to places I've never been and met people I'll probably never know, all through my dreams. And as I continue to dream up ideas, manifest wishes and fulfill goals, I can tell you from first hand experience my life today increasingly become the thing that a little girl's dreams were made of. 


Food for thought:
According to studies done by the National Science Foundation, information can be better retained with reinforcing stimuli delivered during sleep. Click the link for the full article. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

I have a dream

August 26, 2013 marked the 50th anniversary of the the day that Martin Luther King and 250,000 Americans, marched on Washington DC for jobs and freedom. Unfortunately do to my limited education I didn't know much about the original event in 1963. I remember my father playing a vinyl record of Dr. Martin Luther King's speech on Lincoln Memorial (just learned what Lincoln Memorial was when I got there, lol) repeatedly, but the significance wasn't explained to me then. So prompted by a trip already planned by a friend, I decided to join him and the other anticipated 300,000 people, to see what the historic event was about.

At 4:30 a.m. myself and 3 others drove almost 5 hours to Washington DC to participate in the reenactment of a peaceful protest headed by one of America's most influential leaders, fifty years ago. My friend brought a painting he created himself titled "I am a Man", to make his own statement among a crowd of many. He received a lot of attention. People took pictures, requested interviews; he even gave a live interview to Fox5 news, as I stood and soaked it all in.


I tried to imagine the strength that it took Dr. MLK to rally and inspire hundreds of thousands of people in an attempt to cause change in a society where African Americans were discriminated against. Was his dream so strong that he ignored all the risk and dangers associated with trying to bring it to reality? Was he initially alone in his plan to act? If so what about him personally inspired strength in others to do what he did and speak out for their cause? What about Mr. King made people follow and listen to his ideas enough to get up  and out of their homes and put themselves out there? As I pondered these questions I began to feel alone in my own quest for change.

See, my sisters, along with one of my brother's do not want to be associated with anything that I do to raise awareness for child sexual abuse, if it includes my life with my dad. I posted the link to the interview I did for NJ.com on my personal Facebook timeline, and one of my sister's asked me to take it down. I understand and respect their privacy but I can't help but feel alone and in some ways abandoned in carrying this torch that will shine light on this terrible social deviance.  On top of that, their position only reminds me of some of the tactics my father used to put fear and doubt in our minds so that we wouldn't fight back against him. When you are surrounded by people that you love and they are against what you believe to be right, it makes you question yourself. To keep us divided, my father planted seeds of doubt and deceit in everyones heads, which made us not trust each other. Unfortunately, weeds of his manipulations remain to this day.


I've not seen the long term results of opening myself up to others, but something deep down inside me says it's the right thing to do. So I've taken these gifts God has given me; my writing and story telling abilities, my vivid memories; an innate ability to listen and empathize, my thirst for knowledge, the discipline my father instilled in me, my desire to help those in need, and my ability to talk about hard issues, and I truly believe I'm fulfilling my purpose! 
I remember the exact moment I discovered what a lot of us search for in this existence. I was sitting in front of my computer drifting in and out of thoughts on the present, lessons from the past and plans for the future, when a moment of clarity descended upon me.  The transformation in my energy from this realization was like the change your reflection undergoes in the mirror after you wipe away the condensation collected from a hot shower you took. Clean and precise. I knew what I was meant to do! 
It wasn't cooking, it wasn't opening a restaurant or anything dealing with my passion for food. It was and is, to publish my book and help other women and children any way that I can. The irony is that I already started writing my book years before (up to 25 pages), for therapeutic reasons. But something about that moment in time, whether it was a guardian angel whispering in my ear, or the universe opening up to direct me; that moment fueled what I'm doing here today. And I reflect on it anytime I need some encouragement. 

If I had the opportunity to ask him one question, I'd ask Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. what kept him motivated and how did he handle the naysayers? Without coming across bombastic, maybe he had a moment of clarity, like me. 


Food for thought:
Some interesting facts about Dr. MLK's March on Washington in 1963. Curtesy of TheGrio.com

  • There was a large military and police presence at the march. The entire D.C. police force was mobilized, along with 500 reserves and 2,500 members of the National Guard.
  • Only two women, Daisy Bates and Josephine Baker, addressed the crowd that day. At 60, Baker told the crowd, “I am not a young woman now, friends. My life is behind me. There is not too much fire burning inside me. And before it goes out, I want you to use what is left to light the fire in you.” Bates, the architect of the Little Rock school integration and president of the Arkansas NAACP, said,“All the women pledge that we will join hands with you… We will sit in, and we will kneel in, and we will lie in if necessary, until every Negro in America can vote.” (AP Photo)
  • CBS, NBC and ABC broadcasted live coverage of the program in its entirety. Sixteen-hundred press passes were issued for the march. Extensive coverage helped the march become one of the most widely reported on events of its day. 
  • The official name of the now-famous march was “The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.”
  • Scholar, activist and founder of the NAACP, W.E.B. Du Bois, died that morning in Ghana, at the age of 95.
  • Organizers recruited and trained nearly 2,000 parade marshals, mostly black police officers who belonged to the Guardians Association, a fraternal organization of black police.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Maternal Instinct

I was pregnant with my 5th child who was fathered
 by my ex-husband (who took the picture when
I did not feel like taking pictures, lol).
I love being a mother. I love everything about it. I enjoy being pregnant (after the morning sickness stage). I'm excited about giving birth. I adore breast feeding and I am passionate about raising children.  I was given a lot of responsibility at a young age and I am the eldest of a whole lot of siblings, but even before my parents burdened me with the care of my brother's and sisters, I wanted to nurture them before I was old enough to know what the word meant. I brushed my brother's hair when he was a baby (I was two). I begged my mom for opportunities to change my little sister (I was four). And by the time I was nine, for hours my parents would leave me home alone with three children and an infant to take care of.  I believe my maternal instinct is God given and not necessarily a conditioned behavior.


Chocolate Overload. Needs a glass of milk
 Arri's Three times chocolate chip cookies. 
This is my eldest daughter's recipe.

On a daily basis I am surrounded by adults in progress; which include my own offspring, and aaaaalllll of their friends. I'm known to them as Mommy or 'Z', and my home is the place to go for advice, fresh cookies, or to take a load off. Z's house is also the only place that some parents on my block will allow their children to stay past their curfew. Now like any other human being, I have my Calgon moments, but I think my affinity towards and high tolerance of young people, is because I didn't really have a childhood of my own. 

I remember when I was twelve, I asked my mother if because she and my father got married after I was born, did they only do so because she was pregnant. In my attempt to figure out why my parents treated me the way they did, I found it logical that my conception was the blame. I thought that maybe if I wasn't born, my parents would not have gotten married and none of what me and my siblings went through would have happened. My mother never answered, instead she told me to stop asking stupid questions.

I've long given up that idea, and now my mother answers every question I ask her. Which brings me to the inquiry I posed to her tonight: After all that's happened, what does she feel could have encouraged her to protect her children from her husband? To which she couldn't respond. I told her to think about it and get back to me.
   
I forgave my mother less than a year ago. And though she's given excuses like fear and shame for her behavior, I have yet to learn why her maternal instincts didn't kick in. 
When she gets back to me, I'll let you know. 




Food for thought:

According to the Department of Health and Human Services- Child Protective Services"Mothers who are consciously aware of the [sexual] victimization [of their child] and condone or accept it are extremely rare. However, some mothers ignore signs of sexual abuse, for a variety of reasons, or are preoccupied with matters other than their children's well-being."

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Jack of many Trades. Master of some.

I write poetry you know. I'm also a chef. I know how to sheetrock rooms, paint and wallpaper, lay tile and carpet floors. I can sew, knit, crochet, build walls, and grow everything needed for a gourmet meal; I even know a thing or two about running electric wiring and plumbing, and most of these things I learned at my father's encouragement and coercions.
One of my culinary specialties.
 Seared salmon in coconut broth
with wilted spinach, ginger,
pine nuts and curry sauce. 

In every cloud there is a silver lining and even among the abuse and torture I grew up with, I know a lot of things others don't because my father made me learn them. Like most children do for their parents, I wanted to make mine proud. Though my father did everything he could to break my will, that didn't change the fact that him and my mother were the only two people that validated me. Sure we were punished when the dishes weren't clean enough or our beds weren't made on time, but I went out of my way to do more than my parents required. And with my eagerness to succeed, my parents loaded on the responsibility. There were times when I felt lost and defeated, but my relationship with God and my determination to go on, served me like the last drop of fuel that gets your car to the gas station just before it shuts off.

I've birthed five children. Four for my father and one for my ex husband, and they challenge me on a regular basis. I do my best to apply the things that I find are positive from the way my parents raised me, in my own childrearing. Things like thinking outside of the box, reading the dictionary and learning how everything works. But sometimes it can be difficult deciphering what methods were genuinely beneficial to me and my siblings' development, and what was meant as a tool of control. For instance: I was raised vegetarian because my dad taught us that ingesting meat was harmful to the human body. Now that I've done my own research I have found evidence that supports a diet free of animal flesh or at least it's use in moderation. But I can't help but wonder if the real reason my father limited mine and my siblings diets, was to keep us weak. Though there was animal products in the house such as milk and cheese, they were reserved mostly for my father's consumption, and when we were allowed to have a cheese sandwich, you could count the shreds on the roll.

My dad taught us that a child's role in a family was to serve the parents, and that we did in so many ways.  As a single mom I require my children to help in household chores, keep their rooms tidy and do their homework, but in the back of my mind I'm aware that I may be lenient on them because I'm trying to stay away from my father's philosophy. I see my children as gifts of opportunity and an investment in the future. Not slaves tied to me biologically meant to wait on me hand and foot.

Two of my children have inborn errors. My 16 year old has Phenylketonuria (PKU), and my 9 year old had both PKU and Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). Incest doesn't cause deformities in the sense that if two family members have a baby it will be a two headed monster, but it does increase the possibility of a child born out of incest inheriting genetic weaknesses (if you carry the gene to birth a two headed monster...u get the point).  In my case PKU and SMA are recessive genetic deformities where both parents have to be the carrier of the gene to pass the disease on to the offspring. Since my father (who carried the genes) impregnated me- a direct relative- the chances that I would be a carrier as well was 1 in 4; which happens to be the same chances that we had in creating a child with the disease. 


All of this could serve as constant reminders of the dark parts of my life, but the reality is, there are other people that were not raped and taken advantage of by a family member that have children with the same challenges mine have. My reasoning is that me and my children aren't that different from others out there, making me feel less alone. And compared to the abandon that I felt when I was a child, less alone is all the company I could wish for. 
My foundation is crooked, cracked, twisted and full of holes. But with the right amount of mortar mixed in the fitting consistency, layered with the appropriately shaped bricks, I know my skyscraper will touch stars that haven't been discovered yet (I can to lay brick too. Lol!).


Food for thought:

The Child MolestationPrevention Study (Abel and Harlow 2001) states that the effects of child molestation can result in suicide due to overwhelming feelings of guilt and confusion (I remember those days), causing a child to become harmful to themselves. Other consequences which are carried into adulthood include, severe depression (been there, done that), sexual problems, promiscuity, multiple personality disorder, physical illness (check), asthma (got it), immune system complications (hmmm?) and drug and alcohol abuse.


Thursday, August 1, 2013

Mommy Dearest.

Aww man! The last few days have been liberating, motivating, inspiring, challenging and scary all at once. I read the articles posted about my father's sentencing and amidst the inaccuracies, paraphrases, truths and opinions, the thing that stands out the most to me are comments from people about my mother. I guess where contrary to my father's position in my life, my mother is still very active and present. We talk every day; she always calls me for advice. We shop together, I wash my clothes at her house, she has a relationship with her grandchildren, and we go to church together. So to have the public (and some friends) condemn her along with my father (though I know they do this out of concern), almost makes me question my own interaction with the woman that brought me into this world.

A painting that I love called I Remember, by the amazing artist RepDavinci
No, she did not protect me or my siblings from the man she chose to marry. Yes, her actions were selfish and unacceptable. No, I in no way condone her behavior. And definitely, it's a direct reflection on her ability to parent; yet I still forgive her. I am not responsible for her path in this life, so I take no responsibility. I maintain a relationship with my mom because I know she is regretful, and remorseful and does her best to atone. It took me a while to get to this place within myself; to let go of the past and focus on our present relationship, and sometimes I even find myself regressing; but, I tell you it's liberating and freeing as heaven to know that it's all under my control.

Emotions like hate, resentment and animosity take a lot of energy. In the long run, the person holding on to these feelings is the one that suffers. You think my dad is sitting in his cell right now giving a shit if I'm mad at him or not? But if I walked around still angry and hurt I may not be able to function. And as for my mother; when I was younger and I acted out towards her because I didn't know how to process what was happening to me, she didn't care. She punished for "talking back", "being feisty" or expressing emotion, as she busied herself trying to please her husband.  If I dwelled on those and the other mean and irresponsible things she did, I would still be mentally existing in that period. I'd still be thinking about the 'what if's', and 'could have beens', hindering my personal progression. 


And here lies the key. I can talk about my experiences, and write about my challenges because my heart is no longer in the time where my suffering took place; I am no longer there. I acknowledge the pain I felt and the confusion I suffered, but I've moved and continue to move passed them. I'm not afraid to look back, because I can truly appreciate that, that was then and this is now. I am no longer a victim plain and simple.

  
My mom and I have very candid conversations about the past; things she did wrong and why she did them. I tell her all the time she is the perfect example of what NOT to do. What I feel lacked in our relationship, I make sure to include in my relationship with my own daughters. The way my mother surrendered herself to her love for my father, I am conscious to not do that with any man. And the blind faith she followed him with, I reserve only for God. 

Some doctors believe that pedophilia is a condition. They suspect that to be aroused by a child is a sexual orientation that establishes itself during puberty. If caught early in life it can be treated. And yes, it's found mostly in men and rarely in women. I have my own reservations on this theory. I don't like giving people that have the gift of choice, an excuse of having no control. But that's just me. Either way, I truly believe in most cases, it is the mother's responsibility to protect her offspring. But not all mother's have that natural ability, and those that do still need help. I have read many books on parenting but I've yet to find one with a chapter on 'how to protect your child from sexual exploitation' and/or 'what to do if this happens to your precious one'.

I hope that through all of my experiences good and bad, and by continuing to use my mom as a model of 'what not to do', I will be able to write those chapters myself. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Nothing happens by chance

This week has been extremely busy. Monday I went to court to fight some unfair traffic tickets; which the prosecutor recommended that the judge dismiss after he walked in on my guilty with explanation plea. Yesterday I went to New York city to see a lawyer at Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts about some legal questions for my book. And tomorrow is the day my father receives his punishment for the crimes he committed against me.

Dressed for court on Monday
Throughout today my stomach would tense up at the thought of me facing my father tomorrow. See, I will have the opportunity to address him, and the court about how what he's done has affected my life. I've been scripting statements in my head since the moment the prosecutor told me he was found guilty of all charges four months ago; and every time I come up with something to say, I forget my monologue faster than it took me to formulate it. You would think I would just sit and write it down, but for some reason I'm afraid to. I've racked my brain trying to figure out why it scares me to write out what I want to communicate, but even here I can't translate my feelings into words.
I know I don't want to go into court and read pre written text. But that's not why I won't even jot an outline of my thoughts down. It doesn't make sense to speak off the top of my head. Words directed at my father have not passed through my lips for over eight years! Can you imagine what could possibly come spewing out. Maybe that's what I'm afraid of. I know that once I start writing, it'll probably take the apocalypse to break my literary trance. And once that happens, I'd be editing, and re writing and changing and thesaurusizing (thesurusizing; verb. To put different words into a thesaurus repeatedly. I made that one up.) words until...well....until!
  
There's just so much I have to say; so much I want to ask. There is so much I want to know and plenty I want him to know. But what if these things aren't correct in the courts eyes? For instance, though I've suffered horrifically at the hands of my father, I forgive him. Of course he has to suffer the consequences of his actions, but I want him to know that I forgive him for the pain he inflicted on me and the confusion he's caused. I want him to know that I forgive him for my children not growing up with a father in their life; because if he wasn't their father and I had the opportunity to fall in love and get married and have a husband to help me bring them into this world, there would be somebody they could call daddy. I want him to know I forgive him for the diseases that some of my children have, that probably would not exist if he wasn't their father as well as mine. And I want him to know I forgive him for beating me and, raping me and for making me question for years, what did I do wrong. I want my father to know that I have forgiven him because I need him to know that he doesn't have control over any aspect of my life anymore.

When I went to the city yesterday the appointment the intern at the VLA gave me, was two hours earlier than my actual scheduled meeting time. To make use of the extra two hours I had in the city, I decided to get on the subway and pick up some spectacles that I
My first pair of glasses
ordered for school. Just as I was about to swipe my metro card a man stopped me and began telling me things about myself that he possibly couldn't have known. Without me saying a word he told me I was working on a project, I was in school, and I lost my job last year. Though I believe in some spiritual phenomenon, I know there are people out their passing themselves off as anointed to make a buck, so I looked at myself to see if I had any obvious markers to give away the info he was privy too. There was nothing that I could tell. He even told me about my knee injury and I certainly don't have a limp.
After a few minutes he pulled out a piece of paper and quickly wrote on it. He then balled it up as small as he could and put it in my hand. I held the paper for the forty minutes we spent walking around Madison avenue talking. He spoke about the baby that I lost and my daughter that died without me mentioning anything. Eventually, he tried to convince me to give him money to "break evil spells" and "give me good luck". After I declined he asked me my age, my mother's name, the name of the man I was in love with and three personal wishes; which I shared with him. I ended up giving him a donation for his time, thanked him for his conversation and politely excused myself. But before I left he reminded me I had to open the paper he gave me when we first met. When I did, the same information that I told him about my mother, my age, my wishes and the man that I'm in love with was written on the paper he gave me after I barely said hello to him almost an hour earlier.

After my diversion with the stranger who seemed to know me personally, I got to my meeting right on time. The lawyer at the VLA suggested that I make some changes to my manuscript to save me some legal headache. I wanted to say; look lady, after you've been through what I've been through, and experienced some of the things I've experienced, taking some risk of my own free will is as fun as getting on a roller coaster. But instead I thanked her for the help and let her know I will take her advice under consideration.

My encounter with the man before my meeting got me thinking about being in the right place at the right time, and whether or not things happen by chance. After my father's sentencing being postponed twice, My mom won't be their tomorrow because she's on a cruise. My cousin who's attended every day of the trial I've testified, is indisposed. My sister who always gets off early on Fridays is scheduled to work late tomorrow. Just like me being in the city two hours early and crossing paths with a complete stranger (even if it was only to interestingly kill time), I know God is setting things up just how they're suppose to be. And I'm curious as heaven what he has in store for tomorrow.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Dear Reader

So I finished writing the manuscript to my memoir! It's 35 years in the making and 3 years in the writing. Now I'm on to the next phase; publication.
For those that don't know me my name is Aziza Kibibi. Most people think I'm from another country but I am a born and bred Jersey girl!  
I think the best way to introduce myself and explain why I decided to share a memoir with the world is to include a version of the query letter I've been sending out to literary agents. 
But before I do that let me formally introduce you to the theme of this blog.

While I go though the traditional steps of book publishing (which is a long tedious process that takes lots of patience) I will also be moving forward with publishing my book myself. I will share with you on a weekly basis, my trials and triumphs through both these processes as well as events and reflections of my everyday life. 

Consider this reality television in print. My life has never been what most people call normal, and with an unusual foundation, the building turns out pretty...well...unusual.
With that being said, here is my query letter.


Dear Literary Agent.

Meet Aziza. She’s a hard working single mom of five beautiful children that she is very proud of. Most men describe her as mysterious, free spirited and charming. Most woman find her confident, smart and witty. But little do they know, is that from ten years old, Aziza was raised as her father’s sex slave. Oh, and the first four of her five children, are also her brother and sisters 

This book is the true story of my life. Beginning in what was the present at the time I started writing, it follows the hospitalization of my fourth child by my father who is physically disabled which was also during the criminal case brought against my father by me and my sisters. My memoir is the tale of how surviving my childhood, adolescence and young adulthood, has shaped me into the woman I am today.I am the eldest of 9 children by my mother, and including my children whom he fathered, the eldest of over twenty-five by my dad. Using events from the present as a vehicle, the history of my life unfolds beginning with the birth of my third child by my father. I describe how my father delivered my children at home, save for one who I gave birth to on a campsite in Florida. I take the reader on a journey through my sheltered life in a polygamous family where I was home schooled, molested, beaten and trained to satisfy my father’s every sexual desire, to how I coped with my husband cheating on me (with one of my sisters) which led to our divorce.  
I describe how while growing up I watched my father turn from a loving, talented respected member of the community, into the abusive monster that God spared my own children from growing up with. Via my transition through adolescence the reader witnesses my failed attempts at protecting my younger siblings from the fate I had befallen; my father’s video directing career where we interacted with popular ’90’s music artists such as Lauryn Hill and Wyclef Jean of the music group The Fugees, and the events that led to the discovery of our family secret. In my adulthood I share the excitement of my romantic relationships, the challenges that come with being a single mother, and how I lived through the death of one of my daughters. I also address what it’s like to be in a family that’s on a never ending road to recovering from the dictatorship of my father, and how I was able to forgive my mother for not protecting us from her husband.At 113,554 words, UNASHAMED is a tale of tragedy, growth, resilience, survival, faith and forgiveness.   
My portion of the trial against my father is currently in court. I had to graphically testify to his sexual exploitation of me as a child and young adult. He has been found guilty of all charges and faces fifty years of imprisonment. Sentencing is scheduled July 26th 2013.  
I want to share my story with the public because I feel I have a moral responsibility to other men, women and children that may be affected by child molestation and incest (both victims and victimizers). I have not repressed the torture that my father inflicted on me, yet I function normally in life, love and relationships. Despite my limited homeschooled education, I am currently an A student, pursuing my associates in communications (my first classroom experience), and have won three Woman’s Opportunity awards from Soroptamist International for my writing. I also published a blog journaling my grievance and acceptance of my daughter’s death.

Let me know what you think about my query. This is a platform for communication. I welcome any advice and I will answer all questions to the best of my ability. If you are willing to share a story of your own, I embrace you with open arms. I've spent most of my life in secrecy, deception and darkness. Believe you me, I am enjoying everything the light has to offer.

Let's do this!