I was married then, and it was some disagreement we’d had a thousand times over more than a decade together. But it was the first time I’d said that one thing aloud. It was the first time I saw my role in our relationship so clearly.
I had a metaphorical clipboard and it was holding stacks of Post-It note to-do lists and unpaid bills and books on parenting and doctor appointments and retirement strategies and recipes for meals all of us could agree on. I was tired and overwhelmed and the only thing I could do in that moment was blow my whistle. Loudly. And hope that the camper I was married to would step into a leadership role.
That’s harsh, I know. But it was our dynamic. And it was even harsher a year later, well into my divorce, when I realized how accountable I was for promoting myself into the the role of Camp Counselor and then keeping myself gainfully employed there for so many years.
I trashed the clipboard and whistle and dated with the intention of never being the Camp Counselor again.
To some degree, I was successful. However, in shedding my Camp DivorceAMonga t-shirt and plastic friendship bracelets, I didn’t realize I’d be so open to wearing different (and maybe equally as concerning) identities.
I wanted to date different kinds of men, try on who I was with them, see what life was like with a corporate lawyer, a photographer, a much-younger man, someone older. That was good for me, and it stretched out my expectations of relationships. Plus, it was fun. Camp Counselors don’t end up eating a dinner of candy and cheap beer with a 26-year old hipster at midnight. They are too worried about the plan for Sunday morning to stay for the 2 a.m. jazz show at an underground club. Camp Counselors roll their eyes at attorneys on the other side of a pharmaceutical class action lawsuit.