My Story

Janna Kainos, Executive Director of Omega NW

I sat on the beach, my toes digging into the warm sand, the rhythmic ebb and flow of the waves a soothing backdrop to the perfect vacation day. My mother lounged beside me, just us two, on an idyllic day in Hawaii where time seemed to stand still. The sweet taste of a pina colada still lingered on my tongue, a reminder of my first real drink at the tender age of twelve.

With each sip, I felt the weight of my worries melt away, replaced by a sense of calm and belonging in that magical moment. My life up to that point had been chaotic and confusing and by twelve years old I was in desperate need of a deep breath. My mother had ushered me into a secret realm, a world of drinking reserved for just for her and me, and I felt a surge of pride at being deemed worthy of this special club.

Little did I know that this seemingly happy day would mark the start of a twenty-year, relentless pursuit born from the depths of a longing soul, plagued by depression and addiction, yearning to recapture the elusive essence of peace and acceptance.

I grew up in a small town in Montana and despite being a part of a large Mormon family, I never understood God. We were skilled at maintaining a polished image in our community, portraying ourselves as successful business owners and a moral family. We could really show up looking put together, but behind closed doors, our home was full of contradictions, secrets, and lies, leading to a childhood filled with confusion, drinking, and stress.

At twenty years old, after moving to L.A., I received the devastating news that my parents’ supposed business success was nothing but a sham. Overnight, everything they owned had been auctioned off, and they had fled town, leaving behind debt in my name, broken relationships, and unpaid taxes. After moving back from L.A. to Montana and then ultimately to Portland, I coped with the instability in my life with drugs and alcohol.

By twenty-three, I was married but unable to have children. I felt aimless, realizing my life was far from what I had dreamed. “I’m not going to be anyone’s mom,” relentlessly replayed in my mind. Fueled by despair, I dove headfirst into my career and embraced reckless behavior, drowning in alcohol. The weight of depression consumed me, leading to my first suicide attempt.

All my life I had been able to push through using my Montana-grit work ethic to muscle my way through challenges. But eventually, at age 27, I reached a breaking point where there were no more bootstraps to pull up. I had started a recovery program and found momentary reprieve from the grip of alcohol; however, my marriage had ended, and my depression led to more suicide attempts.

Despite the ongoing turmoil in my life, I held onto my job as an assistant manager at Starbucks. It was there that I encountered several Christians whose daily acts of kindness demonstrated their unwavering faithfulness. After a year of persistent invitations, I reluctantly agreed to attend a local church service, primarily to appease my co-workers.

I achieved sobriety for the third time and committed my life to the Lord six months after attending that church service, however I continued to battle with alcoholism, and I relapsed again. However, this time was different.

When a Christian friend and her family learned of my relapse, she refused to let me push her away. Instead, she and her family showed up at my doorstep and spent the next 45 days supporting me as I worked through my recovery.
After spending a meaningful evening with these compassionate friends, I found myself driving alone in my car, engulfed by the darkness of the night. In the depths of my soul, I yearned to grasp the truth about God. Did the Creator of the vast universe, from the stars to the planets, to every living being, choose me?

I felt small and insignificant yet I desperately longed to believe that God loved me unconditionally and would never abandon me. That night, tears streaming down my face, I had a raw conversation with God. “God, you know what it’s been like. Don’t tell me you are all in, that you are here for me and that you love me unless you mean it—tomorrow, the next day, and every day after.” In the quiet of my heart, I heard God’s reassuring response: “I’m all in.” In that moment, I knew without a doubt that God loves me, and everything changed. Since that day in 2010, I have remained sober.

Shortly after this fateful night, the faces of all the people I had met in treatment centers, support groups, and psych wards filled my mind. I kept thinking, “What if there was a way to show them there is hope? What if God can use my story for His good?”

In 2014, I teamed up with my good friend Susie Cottis and we started Omega NW. We wanted to build a bridge for women coming out of compromised backgrounds and show them a way forward through relationship and hard work. Above all else, I want the women who come to Omega to know that they are loved. If God can take someone like me, cold, bitter, and angry, and soften my heart, then He can take anyone and do remarkable things.

Janna Kainos at Omega