Faux power

Mary works as an inpatient addiction counselor. This week the clients had a secret-keeping exercise. Each was tasked to write down every secret she’d kept since entering treatment. They were separated while they wrote out their lists. Usually it’s a purifying exercise. A chance to be wholly honest and let shit go. This time, a tight group kept their secrets, and since they essentially ran the house, they expected everyone else to keep their secrets too. Not so much.

The subsequent explosion of megaton drama is the clearest case of faux power outside of playgrounds and lunchrooms. Why is it that women have been raised to believe drama is power? “She was saying shit about me to SueBeth and MaryJane.” “She iced me out.” “She told everyone I’m a bad mother.” Blah fucking blah. Coupling. Secret keeping. Rumormongering. This isn’t power. This is drama. And drama is the saddest faux power around. It’s the province of covetous underlings and tyrants.

When you’re authentically powerful, you don’t need to threaten or trash talk. You don’t need to be divisive, or splinter your social group.  You don’t need to kick anyone around. Healthy relationships don’t have secrets. (This is not to say there aren’t confidences. Different animal.) Or triangles. Drama is busy work. It’s a fucking mire. What I want to say is this, you don’t have to participate. Seriously. If the play isn’t fair, or decent, learn to separate yourself from the bullshit. That’s a power exercise.

4 thoughts on “Faux power”

  1. I want to publish this and hang it everywhere in the law school. Secrets vs. confidences. Power vs. drama. Well-written. Thank you.

  2. Wow, Jill Malone. I want to print this one out and read it every now and then, just to be reminded. Three paragraphs stocked with wisdom. Do we ever really leave the playground? Why do we let the eight year old voices still get to us? I want to learn to look that kid in the eye and say, “what is it that you really want?” Everytime.

  3. Thank you! Mary ended up designing a Faux Power vs. Power class for her clients, and they were excited about the topic. They didn’t even mind the homework assignment.

  4. And drama is the saddest faux power around. It’s the province of covetous underlings and tyrants.


    When you get to a point in your life where you realize that all your drama has been preventing you from being who you really want to be … you take the first step towards being whole. (Then you realize that you can now point out other people’s drama. and you learn grace.) Then you remember all the people who put up with your drama, and you learn some humility. and then… you begin to breathe deeply, and from this point you can love yourself, as they say, “warts and all.” it’s a sure process, tho.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *