Stand-up comedian Ayanna Dookie, 33, of Bushwick, Brooklyn, once had such low self-esteem, she turned a blind eye to her boyfriend’s infidelity. Here she tells Jane Ridley the dramatic story of how it took a killing to open up her eyes.
It was an early Sunday morning in April 2008 when I received a text message from my friend Ryan. “So sorry about what happened,” it read.
“What are you talking about?” was my response.
“Just Google Spike’s real name,” was all Ryan would say.
So I booted up my computer and typed in the name of my boyfriend of three years. I froze as I read the chilling words — it said he was “being held for the murder of his girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend.”
It didn’t make any sense. I was Spike’s girlfriend. I didn’t even have any ex-boyfriends. The reporter must have made a mistake.
But it turned out that the news story was correct. Spike had allegedly killed his girlfriend’s former lover. Except the girlfriend wasn’t me. Of all the ways to find out that your boyfriend is cheating on you, this one took the cake.
When I met Spike in 2004 at the age of 24, I’d never had a real boyfriend. I’d had countless one-night stands and “uhhh, it’s complicated” situations, but never anyone steady.
So when I met Spike at a party and we went out once and then started dating, I couldn’t believe my luck. He was the boyfriend I’d been craving for years.
But there were warning signs that things weren’t right. About a year into the relationship, a girl I’d never met before took me aside at a party and said, “I know where I know your boyfriend from.”
The implication was that she’d seen him with another woman.
Without missing a beat, I said, “I don’t want to know,” and walked away.
What was important to me was that I had a man. So what if there were other girls?
I was fine living my life in denial — until that fateful text message.
It turned out that one of the women who Spike was cheating with had a crazy ex-boyfriend who broke into her house when he was staying over. There had been a fight and Spike shot the man eight times, killing him.
At the time, it was devastating — not because what happened confirmed that Spike was cheating, but because my boyfriend was locked in jail on $100,000 bail.
At first, to the disgust of my friends, I decided to stand by my man. But a couple of weeks later I had a wake-up call. Did I value myself so little that I was going to play the part of the loyal girlfriend when he had treated me so badly?
I never contacted Spike again, but I heard through the grapevine that his lawyers were able to get him off on grounds of self-defense.
Now, I can’t believe that I once suffered from such lack of self-esteem. Today, I have a steady boyfriend, but I don’t need a boyfriend to define me. In many ways, Spike did me a favor.