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.

    THIS.

    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.

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Jill Malone

Jill Malone grew up in a military family, went to German kindergarten, and lived across from a bakery that made gummi bears the size of mice. She has lived on the East Coast and in Hawaii, and for the last seventeen years in Spokane with her son, two dogs, a hedgehog, and a lot of outdoor gear. She looks for any excuse to play guitar. Jill is married to a performance artist and addiction counselor who makes the best risotto on the planet.

Giraffe People is her third novel. Her first novel, Red Audrey and the Roping, was a Lambda finalist and won the third annual Bywater Prize for Fiction. A Field Guide to Deception, her second novel, was a finalist for the Ferro-Grumley, and won the Lambda Literary Award and the Great Northwest Book Festival.

Giraffe People

Giraffe People

Between God and the army, fifteen-year-old Cole Peters has more than enough to rebel against. But this Chaplain’s daughter isn’t resorting to drugs or craziness. Truth to tell, she’s content with her soccer team and her band and her white bread boyfriend.

And then, of course, there’s Meghan.

Meghan is eighteen years old and preparing for entry into West Point. For this she has sponsors: Cole’s parents. They’re delighted their daughter is finally looking up to someone. Someone who can tutor her and be a friend.

But one night that relationship changes and Cole’s world flips.

Giraffe People is a potent reminder of the rites of passage and passion that we all endure on our road to growing up and growing strong. Award-winning author Jill Malone tells a story of coming out and coming of age, giving us a take that is both subtle and fresh.

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A Field Guide to Deception

A Field Guide to Deception

In Jill Malone’s second novel, A Field Guide to Deception, nothing is as simple as it appears: community, notions of motherhood, the nature of goodness, nor even compelling love. Revelations are punctured and then revisited with deeper insight, alliances shift, and heroes turn anti-hero—and vice versa.

With her aunt’s death Claire Bernard loses her best companion, her livelihood, and her son’s co-parent. Malone’s smart, intriguing writing beguiles the reader into this taut, compelling story of a makeshift family and the reawakening of a past they’d hoped to outrun. Claire’s journey is the unifying tension in this book of layered and shifting alliances.

A Field Guide to Deception is a serious novel filled with snappy dialogue, quick-moving and funny incidents, compelling characterizations, mysterious plot twists, and an unexpected climax. It is a rich, complex tale for literary readers.

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Red Audrey and the Roping

Red Audrey and the Roping

Occasionally a debut novel comes along that rocks its readers back on their heels. Red Audrey and the Roping is one of that rare and remarkable breed. With storytelling as accomplished as successful literary novelists like Margaret Atwood and Sarah Waters, Jill Malone takes us on a journey through the heart of Latin professor Jane Elliot.

Set against the dramatic landscapes and seascapes of Hawaii, this is the deeply moving story of a young woman traumatized by her mother’s death. Scarred by guilt, she struggles to find the nerve to let love into her life again. Afraid to love herself or anyone else, Jane falls in love with risk, pitting herself against the world with dogged, destructive courage. But finally she reaches a point where there is only one danger left worth facing. The sole remaining question for Jane is whether she is willing to accept her history, embrace her damage, and take a chance on love.

As well as a gripping and emotional story, Red Audrey and the Roping is a remarkable literary achievement. The breathtaking prose evokes setting, characters, and relationships with equal grace. The dialogue sparks and sparkles. Splintered fragments of narrative come together to form a seamless suspenseful story that flows effortlessly to its dramatic conclusion.

Winner of the Bywater Prize for Fiction, Red Audrey and the Roping is one of the most memorable first novels you will ever read.

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