Kerry McAvoy, PhD

There’s no defense for being evil

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Photo by artisteer on iStockphoto.com

This week I have been mesmerized by the trial of Alek Minassian in Toronto, Canada. The 28-year-old man has been charged with ten counts of first-degree murder and 13 counts of attempted murder.

Here’s What Happened

On April 23, 2018, Minassian rented a van and intentionally drove into a crowd of people as they walked down one of Toronto’s busiest sidewalks. …


He might have fought for his life if he’d gotten better support

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Photo by author

Once again, the United States healthcare system ranked last among seven industrialized countries, despite being the most costly. This finding doesn’t surprise me; I’ve seen our poor medical system firsthand and worry it may have led to my late husband’s early demise.

My late husband, Brad, had one of those vibrant personalities you couldn’t help but like. …


We have the power to change what we expect from them

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Photo by Djim Loic on Unsplash

Online dating has gotten bad. Let me give you an example.

Recently I spied someone interesting on a dating app and texted, “Hi, I like your profile. I think it’s really cool you’re into (fill in the blank). I’d like to hear more about you.”

“What are you looking for?” he responded.

Already I didn’t like where this was going. …


I’d been blending in so well that I didn’t realize I was unique

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Photo by Abigail Keenan on Unsplash

More than three months ago, I learned I’m neurodivergent. Autistic, to be exact. Me, a 58-year-old woman who earned a Ph.D. and ran a successful counseling practice.

At first, I could barely get my head around this revelation. To say I was shocked is an understatement. Shouldn’t I, as a psychologist, have had a reasonable idea of what constitutes an autistic person? Shouldn’t I have had an educated guess when it came to something so deeply personal?

First off, it’s unfair to think I would know everything there is about psychology. The subject matter is enormous, with many areas of study. They include industrial, organizational, forensic, school, developmental, clinical, cognitive, behavioral — and the list goes on. Then there are narrower focuses. Autism is a specialty within a subtype of psychology. If a doctoral student did not make this disorder a specific area of study, they would only obtain a cursory understanding of the condition. …


A poem on a tired marriage’s unanswered question

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Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Do you still love me?

There it was —
Hung in the air between us, suspended;
Spoken, the burning question.

Did I still love him?

The weight of the years together pressed in.
Too many lonely conversations,
Too many dangling fights.

A look passed between us.

He longed to unravel the past.
But time stood fixed.
His choices and priorities done.

I’m afraid you won’t be able to forgive me, he said.

And with those words,
The salve of absolution and forgetfulness
Poured over me.

He now lays silent
In the cold grip of endless sleep.
But his parting gift of regret has struck its mark.

Do you still love me?

The wind is now his breath.
There’s a hushed silence,
As creation bends close to hear.

Did I still love him?

A broken heart, time healed;
Remembrances, sorrow sweetened.
My tears answer yes.


And ended up being disrespected

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Photo by Joseph Kellner on Unsplash

I heard from my ex recently. He emailed and asked for a large sum of money. Not hundreds of dollars, but thousands. Mind you, we’ve been divorced for over a year. This guy exited the relationship much richer than he entered it — and me much poorer.

Surprised, I reminded him that we had no marital or familial connection, to which he responded he needed three times the amount he just asked for.

What?

I think he was implying I should have been grateful that he didn’t ask for more. The whole situation was ludicrous. I blocked him.

Why does he think he’s entitled to my money? What relationship dynamic would have created this expectation? …


The problem existed long before the two people met

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Photo by Prostock Studio on iStockphoto.com

Since first writing about my marriage to a sex addict, I’ve heard from many people.

Is sex addiction a gender problem?

Many of the commenters shared personal stories, but some had issues with the premise of sex addiction. A few people — all men, interestingly — suggested that sex addiction is simply a gender problem. Since nonmonogamous behavior is common in the animal kingdom, why are we surprised when men exhibit the drive to impregnate as many women as possible?

If true, that’s a sad commentary on men since it doesn’t speak well to their overall ability to maintain ethics and integrity. …


A modern-day ghost story

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Photo by Povozinuk on iStockphoto.com

It was apparent death was near. Brad’s pain had become a challenge to manage. I could tell he was losing the battle against cancer.

Brad was only 52 years old when he learned he had a terminal diagnosis, but he faced the end of his young life courageously. He believed in an afterlife called Heaven, and spoke of it often.

Brad and I had been together for thirty-three years. …


Writing about it has helped me break through the lies and my over-reactive defense mechanisms

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Photo by Marina Vitale on Unsplash

For the past year, I’ve been hard at work writing a traumatic story of betrayal. It’s my story — a brutal tale that began four years ago. The events are so disturbing that the details get fuzzy in my sharp memory.

Here’s the opening of the book:

As I prepared to step into the pool, a bee floated past, trapped on the water’s surface. One wing stood straight up; the other was stuck. Both its legs whipped the air. The bee’s instincts for self-preservation only hastened its inevitable demise as it exhausted itself.

The bee most likely landed on one of the partially submerged lounge chairs for a drink. It didn’t notice that the chair’s sloping glossy surface was wet. Thirsty, the bee was beckoned by the shimmering water. It didn’t realize that it was being lured to its death. …


Like it or not, we have the power to help or hurt each other

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Photo by Omar Lopez on Unsplash

This week, it took a hurricane to remind me that we are not alone.

We like to believe that what we do happens in a vacuum. “I’m not hurting anyone,” we say. “It’s nobody’s business what I do as long as it happens in the privacy of my own home.” We tell ourselves this so we can take the liberties we know we shouldn’t.

I see this same laissez-faire attitude in politics, business, and religion. We scream at each other about our rights without regard for how our freedoms impact one another.

But we are not alone; we are part of a massive community called humanity. And like or not, our words and actions have far-reaching effects, like ripples on a lake. …

About

Kerry McAvoy, PhD

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