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Dangerous Compassions

Tracye Ditmore

My therapist died suddenly, and I’m heartbroken.  Her name was Tracye Ditmore.  I found her online around six years ago.  She knew everything about my emotional life–she helped me get through so many things.  She was brilliant, and I can’t believe she’s dead.

This is her picture from the internet.

Tracye Ditmore

The therapist-client relationship is weird to begin with.  We had a lot of care and some affection.  But she wasn’t a part of my regular life, and I wasn’t part of hers.  So I’m feeling intensely upset, surprised, and sad, but I can’t go to the funeral or reach out to our mutual friends–we weren’t friends.

I can do a ritual on my own.  Already I said a prayer.  I can think of an organization she would like and make a donation in her honor.  I could make art about her.  But really I can’t believe the loss yet.  Death can be so fast and confusing.

Her biller called me.  Initially her biller txted me to say Tracey had to cancel my appointment because of a medical emergency.  I was afraid right away that she was dead.  The word “reschedule” was not being used–cancel.  I knew it was big and hoped the medical emergency was not hers.

A couple days later, I searched for her obituary.  I couldn’t find anything and was heartened.  But then the biller called and told me she had some sad news, and wow.  I kind of lost it.  A toned down, Laura-Marie version of losing it.

what I liked best about Tracye Ditmore

I liked that Tracye was respectful and kind, validating, willing to laugh at the absurdity of life, and helped me understand reality.  At first I misunderstood her as a smiler and nodder.  But after a few meetings, I understood that an intense intelligence was vivid behind her unpretentious, chill demeanor.

I also loved that she was Black, a woman, and possibly fat.  I say possibly because she was not a thin or medium sized person, but I don’t know that she identified as fat.  She could have identified as overweight or one of those terms I don’t use.  (I’m not overweight–I’m a great weight.  My weight is 100% ok with me.)

Every time I spoke about my experiences as a fat person who faces potentially lethal mistreatment at a doctor’s office, and hate in social situations from people who shame themselves about their bodies, and then their self-shame gets onto me…  Tracye understood.  She was right there with me.

When I spoke about being unconditionally valid and how my self-worth had nothing to do with society’s judgments, Tracye would say, “Absolutely!”  She gave enthusiastic approval to my fat liberation, queer liberation, mad liberation, and all the ways I’m kind to myself and give myself permission to be who I am.

demographics

Tracye being woman was important to me.  And she understood any racial thing I’d discuss with her.  It was great to talk with her about bad behavior I see around me that could be classified as white supremacy, being mixed, and the differences between the white and Mexican-American sides of my family.  Even though I’m not Black and we didn’t have the same experiences racially, I was a hundred percent comfortable with her as brilliant person of color with a grasp of any racial issue I might bring up.

Not sure how she identified politically, but I love how Tracye didn’t bat an eye when I mentioned being an anarchist, getting arrested at the test site, the Las Vegas Radical Mental Health Collective, or any of my work and what’s important to me.  She had a chill curiosity and appreciated what was most important to me.  Never did I feel even a hint of judgment.

relationship stuff

Tracye was brilliant about relationships.  She helped me understand what happened in my family of origin, and what was going on in my friendships and communities.  She didn’t speak up a lot, mostly listening with validation.

I loved her gentle reframing.  She’d say something like, “I heard you say such-and-such.  And I was wondering if you ever thought of it this way.”  Then she would offer a reframing of what I’d said, that I’d never thought of before, that was often extremely helpful to me.

She didn’t do that a lot–maybe once or twice a session, she would offer me an alternate reading of a situation of my own life that would be super valuable to me.  Paying such smart attention, she knew me well enough to know what I couldn’t see and nurture me in this sweet way, with her insight and gentle suggestion.  I would take her ideas and build on them, applying them to other aspects of my life, and bring them inside of me to help me make better choices.

behaviors of men

She especially helped me understand the behaviors of men.  I remember a man who had power over me and Ming, who I loved very much, some years ago.  Tracye explained to me the fuckery that he was doing, and I didn’t want to believe her.  But in a few months, what she had told me would become painfully obvious.  I had to admit that yes, the man was doing that horrible thing.

I really didn’t want her to be right.  She worked with homeless youth, and she’d explain what she learned from those kids, and how she saw parallels in my life.  Especially when it comes to power–she learned from those homeless youth how people can skillfully manipulate one another.  She helped me understand how the underhanded guy I loved was doing that to me and Ming.

what I’ve learned

Tracye’s gentle, unpretentious brilliance was so refreshing.  She helped me learn about my role in my family of origin, how men play me, how my good intentions are more to be trusted than my self-criticism.  She helped me learn how to trust myself more, by modeling that I’m trustworthy.  I love how she believed in me.

I remember once when she asked me what I’ve learned in Las Vegas.  Excitedly, I listed.

  • I’ve learned to have faith in myself and the universe after a time of losing all faith.
  • I learned how to love myself and my body, rejecting an entire society’s belief that I should hate myself and starve myself into a smaller version of me that’s acceptable.
  • How to care for myself by centering my own well-being and Ming’s.
  • How to define success in a way that includes me and see myself as unconditionally valid.
  • I’ve learned how to speak my truth on my terms, in ways that work for me, like in zines and this blog.
  • I’ve learned what really matters to me.
  • Importantly, I’ve learned how to say no.
amazing

I listed for her all these things I’ve learned, and she marveled at how far I’ve come.  “That’s amazing!” she said.

“Well, I have you to thank for that!” I said.  “You helped me to realize all those things.”

“It’s you,” she said.  “You did all that work.”

But she knew–she had a hand in that, for sure.  We were both glowing inside, to see how far I’ve come, being the person I want to be and healing old pain.

Many self-destructive behaviors I let go of, and ways of thinking I was taught as a child that I needed to shed.  I replace what I shed with my own adult values and behaviors, now as the person I am.  With self-respect and unconditional self-love.

thank you

Thank you to Tracye Ditmore for being an amazing therapist.  I feel lucky I could see her for around six years.  I’ve only had two good therapists in my life.

I did a lot of work on my own.  Then it was fun to meet with her, have rapport, present her with what I’d been going through and realizing, and learn from her feedback.  I felt safer in the world, knowing she was on my team.

Thank you to her spirit, wherever it may be, to her family, and to the truth she was so deeply connected to.  I’d say that truth was Mother God or Love.  The nurturing Tracye Ditmore gave to me, in this particular detached role, changed my life.

By Laura-Marie

Good at listening to the noise until it makes sense.

23 replies on “Tracye Ditmore”

Tracye’s biller just called me and I just found out about her passing. I googled her obituary and found your blog.

Tracye was my therapist for two years and I will deeply miss her. She helped me through some really tough times. Laura-Marie, thank you for all the beautiful memories you shared of Tracye. I am a little speechless right now, and it is so great to hear about a fellow client’s experience with her. I too have alternative beliefs when it comes to religion, gender equality, societal norms on weight and beauty, and race and discussions with her as well. Thank you for sharing. May Tracye’s soul finally be at peace.

Trayce was my therapist for 2 1/2 years. I came to her a broken down woman, hurting from PTSD stemming from childhood. She, in her unique and loving way, helped me find myself, and using tools I never realized I had, am able to walk tall in my life.
I had an appointment on Wed, and never heard from her confirming it, which she always did. I texted and left a message, but something told me a terrible thing happened. My heart has been breaking these past 2 days.
She will be missed so much. A piece of her will always be in my heart, which I will carry with love and pride having known her.
I pray her family find comfort each and every day.

My prayers are with all who knew and loved her.
I did not know her personally nor professionally, but I know she was beacon of light in my very best friend’s life. I’m very grateful for all she was able to do for so many.
May you all find peace and comfort as you maneuver through this challenging ordeal.
Godspeed.

Ms. Ditmore was also my therapist. I was shocked by how much the pain of her loss affected me. I feel weird saying how much I’m going to miss her. I chose Ms. Ditmore specifically because she was a black woman like myself. It was EASY to talk to her. It was like talking to an aunt (that I knew nothing about) I had a few days where I tried to rationalize her Death. Without knowing any of the specifics, I blamed the Healthcare system in Vegas. I blamed the traffic. I blamed myself. I knew that I was one of the last people to actually talk to her and I felt that if she wouldn’t have taken the time to make sure that I was okay first, she might have had more time to make sure that SHE was okay. It took me a few more days to realize that none of that made any sense, but my mind was still reeling. I’m really going to miss her. She was one of a kind and I hope that she understood how much she was cherished.

That was a beautiful tribute to a woman we both came to admire. I too was a patient of Tracye’s since August of 2018 when I reached out to her after I was the victim of an armed robbery at my job. I still suffer from PTSD. I feel as though I could have written your words myself. You described her so well.
I knew she was gone too but I couldn’t bring myself to accept it. I feel so lost right now and there is no one that can replace her. She was so supportive and that meant so much to me. We had a good laugh during our last session and I will treasure those moments forever. She was one of a kind and will be deeply missed.

I just got a letter in the mail that Tracye died ??? I was texting and texting her. I had a bad feeling when she didn’t reply because that’s not like her at all. It was nice to come here and see that I wasn’t alone

No one has called me. I’m so lost. I don’t even know how to get in touch with anyone. I’ve gone to her for 6 years and my kids go as well. Saying that she was an amazing person is an understatement.I only found out because of my daughter. She went for her session and someone told her the news! I think I’m still in shock.

Your blog post and the comments has made me so grateful for Tracye. I saw her consistently since 2019 and at times, I misperceived our interactions. The parallels that I found in your sentiments provided me new insight and greater appreciation for Tracye. I miss her. I miss her feedback. I miss her encouragements. I miss her.

I attended her virtual homegoing, and it made me realize that she lived a full life. She was beautiful. She was a person, an amazing person. Blessings to her loved ones.

Thank you for your loving kind words about our therapist.. Tracye started out in family therapy through my ex’s Clark county School district insurance. We were having trouble with my son but it soon became about her and I cuz she needed to know what kind of parenting skills we both had and how they differed. I’m 14 years in recovery and someone in her life obviously was to by the way she would talk to me about it but in a short time I started sharing things with her with my ex there and that should not have been shared in front of my ex lol she suggested that we do phone sessions one-on-one. I was laid off Union construction worker am I insurance had lapsed and I told her I couldn’t afford it and she told me don’t worry about it. After our first phone session one-on-one she asked me what I thought and if I would want to schedule something and I told her absolutely you help me tremendously. But I told her I wasn’t comfortable with not paying we had to come up with something. She asked me when I work with my sponsees in alcoholics anonymous how I set up the payment plan for my time that I spend with them. I laughed, I said you know better than that you have to give it away to keep it it’s my service back to a god of my understanding in the program that saved my life. And she said I’m glad you put it that way, she said for many years at any given time I have two to four people a month that I speak to that are no charge, and I consider that my service work giving back and the many times I spoke to her she never cussed but she did this time and she told me, ” so you’re gonna have to fuckin deal with it!!!” She got me, she saw through the armor that we all have trying to protect ourselves but what we really need is somebody to peel the layers of the onion and get to the root of the problem that causes the erratic or destructive behavior. I help other men get sober, Tracye helped me be a better human being, a better son a better brother a better partner a better dad a better friend. I loved her very much and I will miss her dearly my heart goes out to her and her family, God bless you beautiful angel

Laura-Marie, I am still in a state of shock after finding your site this morning. Tracye had not responded to be since Thanksgiving, regardless of the emails, voicemails and letters I sent to her, and I could not figure out why.

We have been close personal friends since August 2006, but I was not local, which presented a problem for her. My visits to her and Joshua had to stop after COVID hit. I have scheduled several days in Las Vegas at the end of the month, but now it is a lot less inviting.

If you had to describe Tracye with a single word, what would it be?
I choose “wholesome”. Thanks for sharing; I need to go grieve now…

I’m so late with this reply. I began seeing Tracye maybe a year or so before the pandemic. I was in a tough spot and I was referred to her via the EAP program at my work. I remember liking her and feeling safe in her presence almost immediately. She was so warm and attentive without being intrusive. She really helped me learn how to give myself grace. I didn’t continue to see her for awhile and then the pandemic hit. During that time I thought about her and how much better I felt going to her. I vowed to go back to her when the world opened again. I had a telephone number for her. I called but she never answered or called back. I even went by where I thought her office was but couldn’t quite find it. I thought maybe she moved. Never in a million years did I think she had passed away. I’m almost a year late finding out. Her time on earth wasn’t long enough but she made a difference with the time she had. My condolences to her family and her patients.

Tracye is my friend from high school. And I was wondering why I haven’t heard back from her in a while. I’ve had several family members die during c19, so it has been non-stop, back to back on the go.
I finally had a breather and was missing her and her laughter. From the day we met, we laughed about nothing and about everything. Decided to call her so we could catch up.
Since I changed phones two times and lost my contacts, I had to look her up online. And I found your post.
Thank you for sharing your experience with her.
To learn this new is shocking and devastating. Do you have contact info of her biller? Please forward my contact info to her.
If you have it, please share the link to her memorial service.

Ms Tracye was my therapist as well, she would volunteer her time at Shannon West homeless Youth Center several days a week and also do groups in the mornings I took advantage of her time any moment I could once I graduated the program and left she opened up her own practice which I knew she was in the process of working on that while I was in Shannon West because I was one of her prior clients in the program she volunteered her time to she gave me free services for therapy regardless of my insurance or ways to pay I was able to learn the skills I really was lacking and move forward out of therapy I just considered going back to her just to touch base on my progress and I found out she passed I’m so heartbroken to find that out it is a beautiful thing to know that she had touched the lives of so many.

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