We are all given a gift when we are born. We unpack our mantles, shake them out, and wrap them around our shoulders. They are, each one of them, custom made.
Some can wear them with aplomb, splendid things spun about with flourish, decorated with a filigree that was meant to be. They are not such a bother, these embellished mantles. Some merely hang around, a gossamer wisp of possibility, mostly neither here nor there. Some become yokes, yokes that grow heavier in such small increments that we do not realize how far they are weighing us down until we find that we have stooped so low that we can no longer see the sky.
I have chosen to lay down my mantle, to re-pack this outer garment that no longer suits me. It has grown dank and dark; unobserved, it has become worn through with holes through which I can see the glory of the layer that existed underneath. I will snip each thread, one by one, until the whole falls apart. I will burn through the thread of guilt, the guilt of being the one to choose to put my burden to rest, of being the one who has decided that I want to stand tall once more. I will tear apart with my teeth the thread that holds me to your remorse, the thread that has tethered the responsibility for carrying your mantle, along with my own, around my neck. I will leave you free to decide whether your mantle is one that you wish to bear. I have loosened the clasp around my throat, and now I wind it, gently, back around your own.
The patchwork of holes that will always remain have left me emptier than I was before, missing little bits of me, colorful pieces of happier times. Within it, though, is a lightness, a buoyancy that could not exist without the pockets of empty. The edges may have darkened, but the vibrancy of what was cannot be dimmed.
We are all born with a mantle, to wrap around ourselves. Today, I will fold mine up in tissue paper, and slide its box underneath my bed to rest with the cobwebs that will never be swept up, so that tomorrow, tomorrow I may stand tall.