Finding your Passion: The Fear of Reprisal

Art by Caroline Allen. Part of Operation 365, one painting a day for one year,

My first novel, Earth, is semi-autobiographical, a fictionalized version of my childhood in Missouri. I was meditating the other day on how to increase book sales and was given this message: You fear reprisals. Your fear is holding the book back. This fear is universal. It keeps many from speaking their truth. It is even deeper than that. People fear reprisals for following their passion, following their bliss.

I decided to explore the issue more deeply, take it on like I would any art project. Delve into it. Blog about it. Create from it. I decided to honor it instead of resist it.

As a writing coach, I have worked with many people on memoir and fiction, and this fear of speaking our truth is very real. Many of us were overtly or subtly threatened as children. Do not speak. Do not tell. Say what goes on in this house and suffer the consequences. Lodged in our bodies is the fear of being beaten up or even killed. Lodged in our psyches are past lives where we told the truth and were burned at the stack, or hung by the neck, or imprisoned or raped. Then there is the fear of being ostracized, thrown out, made homeless.


So, the first step for me was to honor that this fear IS real. We write our books, we speak our truths, and many of us fear that somehow we will be punished.

I had a dream not too long ago where I was bobbing in the ocean. A beautiful well-dressed man in a beautiful sailboat saw me treading water. He turned his boat around and would not pick me up. He was well-to-do, silver-haired. He was someone who had worked the system and was now reaping its benefits. I question the “system” in my books, and he was letting me know that because of that I would not be allowed on the boat. I was given this message in the dream:


Before I look at solutions to this dilemma — how to deal with all of this fear when it’s actually quite real — I first wanted to explore the universal nature of this fear, how many people fear reprisals even doing what they’re passionate about. You want to give up your job to pursue your passion and it’s not just about the money, not just about the security of the paycheck, something deeper is causing you so much fear you can’t even move forward.

I understand this fear as a novelist speaking the family secrets I was threatened never to tell, but how does this fear show up for people who simply want to play music or dance, who simply want to live in their passionate selves? What is the reprisal they fear?

I use tarot cards. Here is what the tarot had to say:

The heart of the world is broken. When you live in a system that honors money and ego over spirit, it breaks the heart of the people.

When one person takes off her blinders and says: No, I’ll go this way and find my soul and my passion, the others who are heartbroken are so upset about their own pain, they lash out. They will do anything not to have to look at their own pain. I have been shut down, broken-hearted, and you will be too. It is not possible to find your passion and survive and even thrive and I will not let you prove me wrong, otherwise my already broken heart will bleed even more, and I cannot bear it. 

This system is so entrenched, many people may not even realize the fear of reprisal is blocking them.

The people who follow their passion shine the light on the wounded songbird in our throats, the gutted deer in our thighs, the maimed wolf in our groins. The wounded people cannot bear to look at their pain.

So, first we honor that there will be reprisals if we follow our passion. We do not sugar coat it and pretend. We do not live in some fantasy that denies this truth. By honoring it as true, we can take steps to deal with it. We can heal and move forward.

How do we deal with these reprisals? That is the question.

HAVE COURAGE. BE BRAVE. Body shaking, take the first step. Then the next. And again another.

Stand in your integrity. Stand. Get up and stand. Take the power back. You are love and growth and they are stagnation. They are the death of the planet. You are right. Stand in the right. Stand.

The storm will pass. Meanwhile, you must get back to work. There is much work to be done to change this whole blessed world.

I am a novelist, visual artist and book coach. As a coach, I offer a free initial consultation. Earth is for sale at most online booksellers. 


One thought on “Finding your Passion: The Fear of Reprisal

  1. Oh, Amen Carrie….thank you for writing this blog. Yes, yes, yes…with knees shaking, butterflies flying through my belly, I am writing again….and it feels so damn good! Thank goodness we have the ability to express all of it on that blank page! Thanks for being here and shining your light! Funny, I have been writing a piece called, “Shine Your Light!” Even been thinking I should create a SHINE YOUR LIGHT TOUR…and take it on the road….we’ll see! Big Hugs!


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