“Beware the ides of March,” Julius Caesar was warned just before his tragic death. The ides of March refers to the 15th of March, the day on which Julius Caesar was, literally, stabbed in the back by his political comrades, including his closest confidant, Brutus. “Et tu, Brute?” Caesar asked as he fell to his knees before death, his last uttered statement before dying. Every year we celebrate this fateful comment written by William Shakespeare. We think of the betrayal Caesar endured. We think of the ways he might have had it coming. What we may not think about is what Caesar might have done, how he might have acted, should he have survived his brutal attack. How would Caesar have handled and processed such a cruel betrayal?
Life is full of surprises, even when we should have seen it coming. Would Caesar have seen his backstabbing coming? Perhaps not because of his focus on his empire, rather than the good of Rome. We can’t always bear witness to what we contribute in relationships which cause people to act in a surprisingly upsetting way to us. Sometimes, we haven’t done anything wrong at all. As Cassius said, “we are underlings”, making us, men, prone to mistakes in our life. Friends, colleagues, brothers, family members — anyone can become an underling in their own life and it will have an effect on ours. We might endure once, twice, or many multiple times in our lives, a sudden and deep betrayal. For some of us, when our families intervened with our addiction and encouraged us to go to treatment, we felt like Caesar. Yet we realized they were right and we made amends in our relationships. One time events like getting sober do not promise immunity from the occurrences of life or the shortcomings of men. We have to be resilient. We have to be present. We have to be prepared for whatever life brings our way.
The ides of March are a metaphor for a spiritual practice we must apply to our everyday life. Life happens on its own terms and quite often those terms can feel like it is life itself stabbing us in the back. We have to beware of what will come next and prepare ourselves to do two things. First, we have to stay clean and sober. No matter the betrayal, real or perceived, we have to maintain our sobriety in order to work through this new challenge in our life. Second, we have to work through this new challenge in our life. Caesar fell dead, because that’s what Shakespeare liked to do. Life can knock us down. Life can even ‘stab us in the back’ but even the worst emotional pain won’t take our lives. We work through the pain with a humble gratitude for the opportunity to do so having clarity of mind. This is what recovery has prepared us for and made us capable of. This is what we are built for. With these strengths, we are the masters of our own fate, as Caesar described men. We are the emperors of our own empire.
Thankfully, there is a way to heal. If you have found yourself trapped by the cycle of addiction, there is hope. Tree House Recovery in Portland, Oregon, shows men how to find freedom from addiction. Creating sustainable recovery through sustainable change, our programs help men reclaim their lives mind, body, and spirit. Call us today for information: (503) 850-2474