A Year of Step, Through My Eyes

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While not everyone’s path to healing looks the same, for many, the journey to sobriety includes learning about the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). The steps, which are based on the principles of acceptance, hope, faith, courage, honesty, patience, humility, willingness, brotherly love, integrity, self-discipline, and service, have helped transform the lives of many in recovery. But could the steps also help someone who isn’t in recovery? Below is a letter from Adriana Popa, who manages Mountainside Chelsea. Adriana has not struggled with addiction, but throughout her time at Mountainside, she has seen how the teachings of AA transform lives. Recently, they changed hers.

A Little Bit About Me

Hello everyone! I’m Adriana. I was born and raised in Romania and moved to America with my family in the early 90s after the fall of communism. Some of you may know me from my many years working at Mountainside, but many probably don’t know me at all.

My journey at Mountainside began in December 2013. During my seven-plus years at Mountainside, I have worn many hats—from billing specialist to alumni coordinator, and most recently, I managed our newest location in New York City, Mountainside Chelsea. As I was just getting used to managing the daily operations here, March 2020 happened and, just like the rest of NYC and the world, we sadly had to close our doors to our recovery hub and wait until we “flattened the curve.”

I was left to wonder: how do I manage a facility that is closed for an unforeseen period? I couldn’t. Like it did for many, the uncertainty in March of 2020 took a big toll on my life. Here I was, alone, afraid, not able to really leave my house, my family not around, friends all worried about how they would manage a full-time job and homeschool their children, and then: Step happened.

Going to 12-Step Meetings

On April 6th, we kicked off Step into Recovery, or as I like to call it, Step, a recovery support meeting that takes on a different step each week. I am not a clinician, counselor, or recovery coach. I’m simply a girl that works at Mountainside and manages facilities, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. My role in the meetings initially was for tech support. I was there to help anyone who had issues with the virtual world we were all suddenly living in. I was shy, reserved, almost never turned my camera on, and was always muted.

After a few days of seeing the same people log on, I felt comfortable enough to turn my camera on from time to time and say hi and bye. More time passed by, and without even realizing it, I noticed my camera was on more often. Now, a little over a year later, I can’t wait for noon to come around and see my “tribe.” My camera is always on. I sometimes read and share, and most importantly, I am always comfortable with who I am because I know I am accepted by all, even with all my quirks and mispronounced words.

What I Have Learned from Step

During a year of attending step meetings, many things have happened:

  • I have met some really, really amazing people who I now can call “my tribe.”
  • I have cried some and laughed some.
  • I have been so inspired by everyone’s growth that I am now focusing on personal growth.
  • I have watched our attendees become the best versions of themselves with my own eyes.
  • I have broadened my knowledge of Step work, and try to apply it in my daily life.
  • My spiritual journey has gone further than I have ever thought it would.
  • I learned some good catch lines like “land the plane,” and “don’t poke the bear,” and “embrace the suck.”
  • I read some great books and listened to some amazing podcasts—all shared by our alumni.

Because of the tribe, or “nooner tribe” as we have grown to know it, I now have a meditation practice in place. I journal daily and write down what I am grateful for each morning and night. I do it because I have seen the results with my own two eyes, and I know it works.

I have also learned to not be so hard on myself when something out of my control happens. Setbacks occur all the time, and now, the voice of our Wellness Manager Thuan Nguyen (I have spent many nights as Thuan’s support for virtual meditation) is always in my head saying, “It’s not happening to you. It’s just happening.”

I struggled with accountability so much, and because of this group, I have learned how to hold myself a little more accountable. I am not there 100 percent, because, after all, we’re a work in progress, but I now have the faith I can do it, and I have the tools I need.

Why Step Matters

We often say that if people applied the principles in the 12 Steps to their everyday lives (be it if they are in recovery or not), we would all be much happier, less resentful, less angry, more confident, and humbler. I now know this is true, and I’m the perfect example of that. The Step meetings and digging deep into each and every one of the 12 Steps (five times around since last April) have made me a better person.

To all the facilitators, you all will forever be a part of this journey with me. Your words of wisdom often resonate in my mind. Thank you, Mountainside, for choosing me to be the support for this group! I am forever grateful.

And finally, to my nooners, my tribe: each and every one of you have such a huge impact in my life. On the 365th day of Step, we all shared some memorable moments from Step, and to say that I was speechless at the shares is an understatement. My heart felt like it was about to explode because of all the feelings. There is no place else I’d rather be at noon than with the tribe. Thank you for letting me be a part of your journey, for allowing me to watch you become the best version of yourselves, for trusting me with your vulnerability, for keeping me accountable, even when you didn’t know you were, and for teaching me how to be the best version of myself.

This is what a year of Step into Recovery has meant for me. If you, too, want to be part of the magic, join us. You can find us on Teams every Monday through Thursday at noon.

— Adriana

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, Mountainside can help.
Click here or call (888) 833-4676 to speak with one of our addiction treatment experts.

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Adriana Popa

Adriana Popa is Mountainside’s Regional Facilities Manager. Through her time at Mountainside she has worn many hats, from billing specialist to alumni coordinator to now overseeing Mountainside Chelsea.

Step Into Recovery Support Group

Join Step into Recovery, a 12 Step-based recovery meeting, open to everyone. In our virtual Step Into Recovery meetings, we will discuss and share the spiritual principles and themes — tackling a different step every week. You will grow by doing, and by actively working the steps. So step right up, folks; there ain’t no half-steppin’ when you Step Into Recovery!

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