ACoAs: Our TIME-LINE Inventory


my life all laid out so clearly

PREVIOUS: Family Inventory – General

See ACRONYM Page for abbrev.


Family Inventory charts are next. If you want to start with a Personal Inventory (or have already done one, try c.), here are a few options:

Al-anon “ 12 STEP Workbook ” (as an adult) and12 Steps of Adult Children” (about you & family in childhood)

These 2 books can be done together – one Step at a time – of course! & share each one with a sponsor or therapist. You may need some suggestions on how to answer the various ones, since it’s hard to see oneself. Do not rush, but do it.

If you just want to do a character Self-Evaluation, you can do:
a. the 4th Step of the 12 Step Program: “Made a fearless moral inventory of ourselves”. Most newcomers just write everything they think is wrong with them (personality defects) & all the wrong things they’ve done (bad actions). Actually it’s supposed to include our strengths, skills & gifts, but ACoAs rarely think to do that.
• This can be done with an outline such as the AA version at “
• or done ‘freehand’, as things come to you. Then later you can categorize them for clarity.

b. AL-ANON‘sThe Blueprint for Progress” booklet & online

c.  The TIME LINE Inventory (DMT 1986)
This chart may seem sketchy, but can be quite powerful. Because it’s so visual & simple it’s hard to miss the obvious – trauma & repetitions of trauma. You may:
•  find yourself reluctant to start , OR you may fill in some & then drop it. This is most likely because it’s painful & you’re shying away from facing the pain – doing it alone can be hard
•  If you do continue, be sure you have a good support system in place ahead of time when you need encouragement if the emotions that surface come up too strongly. Don’t give up!
•   Tape together as many sheets of paper as needed (20-30…)
•   OR use a roll of sturdy white paper
•   OR a loose leaf notebook with unlined paper
❇️ Doing this online is not as effective, since you can’t see it all at one time. Plus – the physical act of writing is good for stimulating the brain

Draw a horizontal line about 2/3 of the way down, all the way across. At far left put the year of your birth & then mark off every 2 or 3 years with the date and your age, all the way to the present. Leave more space between later 2/3-yr. periods than early ones

Above the horizontal line add slanted lines as they fit your life experiences & briefly write on each one a major event: illness, moves, school, graduations, special events, travel, hospitalizations, awards, relationships, work, physical abuse…. It’s OK if you don’t know the exact date or yr, especially from your early life. Put in everything you can think of, even if dates are approximate. ASK the Inner Child for memories (or reliable relatives)
(USE PENCIL to make changes or corrections)

Below the line write in any event that happened to another person close to you which had an impact on your life: birth of siblings, divorces, illness, deaths, their loss of jobs….

Start anywhere in your lifetime, filling in the things you remember most easily, & then go back & fill in earlier events as you think of them. Ask siblings, aunts…. or anyone who knew you then, who can give you some history you forgot or difind the patterndn’t know. Do the best you can.

👀 When you’ve filled in as much as you can (you can add things at any time) you’re going to be looking for :
•   the recurring pattern of your early experiences
•   how you’ve copied them as an adult
•   what had the most impact on you
•   what did you just realize for the first time now
•   what are you clearer about, that you sort of knew, but hadn’t solidified

IMP: Take your time. Allow yourself to feel all your emotions – sadness, anger, frustration, loss…. Bookend this exercise with someone your trust, & review it with a therapist, sponsor or sibling, if possible.

NEXT: OUR Education Inventory – #1

2 thoughts on “ACoAs: Our TIME-LINE Inventory

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