Originally appeared on E! Online
Britney Spears has spent the last two decades not telling her story.
Her life has been the subject of more clinical dissection than most wildly famous people, thanks to the many court documents filed during the course of her conservatorship, which lasted from Feb. 1, 2008, until Nov. 12, 2021. And there have been countless attempts to peel that onion from the outside.
But aside from the pieces of the puzzle the 41-year-old has sporadically shared on Instagram, glimpses inside her private world have relied mostly on stuff other people have had to say.
Yet it felt for a long time it seemed that Spears really wanted to say more, though it was anyone’s guess when — or if— she’d ever be in that zone. And even once she announced she’d be writing a memoir, who knew what to expect from the mercurial pop icon?
Well, if you put your money on OMG, you win: Spears has torched her veil of secrecy with “The Woman in Me,” which tackles everything from young stardom and Justin Timberlake to what it felt like to lose her legal right to make choices and eventually recover her strength to resist.
As her revelations inspired one explosive headline after another leading up to the book’s Oct. 24 release, Spears wrote in an Oct. 20 Instagram post that her intent was not to offend or “harp on my past experiences”— but rather to put whatever she shared behind her for good.
“I have moved on and it’s a beautiful clean slate from here!!!” her post read. “Either way this is the last of it and s–t happens!!!”
In any case, after years of keeping it all inside, you could say she’s set herself free. Here are the biggest bombshells from Spears’ memoir, “The Woman in Me”:
First Kiss With Justin Timberlake
Britney Spears met Justin Timberlake when they were Mouseketeers on Disney Channel‘s “The Mickey Mouse Club” in the early 1990s along with Christina Aguilera and slightly older talents including Keri Russell, Ryan Gosling and Tony Lucca.
Though it would be some years before they dated, falling for each other when she went on tour with *NSYNC, Spears writes that she and Timberlake shared their first kiss while playing Truth or Dare during a cast sleepover with — insert irony here — a Janet Jackson song playing in the background.
Britney Had an Abortion While Dating Justin Timberlake
Among the devastating low points Spears describes about dating Timberlake, she shares that she had a medical abortion because his position was that they were both too young to become parents. She underwent the process at home, she writes, recalling Justin lying on the bathroom floor with her and strumming his guitar during what she calls “one of the most agonizing things I have ever experienced in my life.”
She still isn’t sure if she made the right choice, adding, “If it had been left up to me alone, I never would have done it. And yet Timberlake was so sure that he didn’t want to be a father.”
E! News reached out to Justin’s rep and did not immediately hear back.
But as various Justin-centric anecdotes in Spears’ book made headlines ahead of its release, a source shared that the 42-year-old is working on new music, plus he and wife Jessica Biel are feeling great and keeping busy with sons Silas, 8, and Phineas, 2.
Justin Dumped Her Over Text Message
According to Spears, Timberlake is in the club of celebrities who’ve ended relationships with the equivalent of a digital Post-It.
She was so “devastated,” she recalls, she “could barely speak for months.”
Spears went back home to Kentwood, Louisiana, to recover — and, post-breakup, she writes, Timberlake flew out there to personally deliver a letter he wrote and had framed that concluded, “I can’t breathe without you.”
Britney Spears is reportedly shedding more insight into her relationship with Justin Timberlake.
The Demoralizing Assumption That Britney Cheated on Justin
Recalling the insinuations in Timberlake’s “Cry Me a River” video that she had cheated on him, Spears writes of having to deal with the fallout, feeling “comatose in Louisiana” while her ex was “happily running around Hollywood.”
She points to her cringe-inducing November 2003 interview with Diane Sawyer, arranged by her father and manager, in which the journalist grilled her about the pain she supposedly caused Timberlake as her “breaking point.”
“I felt like I had been exploited,” she writes, “set up in front of the whole world.”
The Extent of Britney’s Unfaithfulness
As was rumored years ago, Spears admits to making out with dancer-choreographer Wade Robson at a bar one night while she was dating Timberlake. But she attributes the gossip that Timberlake was cheating on her for pushing her into that mindset.
Otherwise, she writes, she was faithful to Timberlake.
Adderall Was Britney’s “Drug of Choice”
Spears maintains that, during the days when it looked like she was partying hard with Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, et al., she didn’t have a drinking problem, but used the ADHD medication Adderall to get high and enjoy “a few hours of feeling less depressed.”
Hooking Up With Colin Farrell
“Brawl is the only word for it—we were all over each other, grappling so passionately it was like we were in a street fight,” Britney writes.
However, she admittedly wasn’t “over Justin” when she was Farrell’s date to the Jan. 28, 2003, premiere of “The Recruit,” where the Irish actor told reporters they were “just mates” and not dating, but “she’s a sweet, sweet girl.”
Spears writes in “The Woman in Me,” “But for a brief moment in time, I did think there could be something there. The disappointments in my romantic life were just one part of how isolated I became. I felt so awkward all the time.”
E! News has reached out to Farrell’s rep for comment but did not hear back.
The Truth About Her Marriage to Pal Jason Alexander
Spears was bored and “just honestly very drunk,” she writes, when she and childhood friend Jason Alexander swapped vows in Las Vegas in January 2004. The union was annulled 55 hours later.
She marveled over her family’s reaction — “like I’d started World War III” — but it was “innocent fun” as far as she was concerned.
The Night Britney Shaved Her Head
The unforgettable night in February 2007 when Spears walked into a Los Angeles-area salon and buzzed all her hair off was a response to the constant objectification she’d been subjected to since coming of age in the spotlight. (She notes elsewhere in the book that she went on Prozac around the time “Oops…I Did It Again” was blowing up to deal with the heightened scrutiny.)
“I’d been looked up and down, had people telling me what they thought of my body, since I was a teenager,” she writes. “Shaving my head and acting out were my ways of pushing back.”
“Flailing those weeks without my children, I lost it, over and over again,” she recalls. “I didn’t even really know how to take care of myself.” She famously smacked a paparazzo’s car with an umbrella, her new haircut adding to the drama of it all, and remembers her thought process at the time growing increasingly childlike while she was still “in the throes of severe postpartum depression” and dealing with the end of her marriage.
Federline was later granted sole physical custody of their kids on Oct. 1, 2007.
Why Britney Didn’t Fight the Conservatorship Earlier
Spears was placed in a conservatorship on Feb. 1, 2008 — initially after a series of emergencies, including the star being put on two 5150 holds in January 2008, but then it was extended indefinitely.
The “…Baby One More Time” singer recalls that she “begged the court to appoint literally anyone else” than her father, Jamie Spears, as her conservator. (Lawyer Andrew Wallet was co-conservator until March 2019.)
But she says she gave up the legal fight to free herself early on so she could be reunited with her kids as soon as possible.
“My freedom in exchange for naps with my children—it was a trade I was willing to make,” she writes. “There is nothing I love more—nothing more important to me on this earth—than my children. I’d lay down my life for them.”
Britney the Person Withered While the Brand Continued to Bloom
Spears describes the alleged confines of the conservatorship as being too “sick to choose my own boyfriend and yet somehow healthy enough to appear on sitcoms and morning shows, and to perform for thousands of people in a different part of the world every week!”
Eventually, Spears writes, she “began to think that [dad Jamie] saw me as put on the earth for no other reason than to help their cash flow.”
She alleges she wasn’t even allowed to change her set list when she wanted to during her wildly successful Las Vegas residency at Planet Hollywood.
“My music was my life,” she writes, “and the conservatorship was deadly for that; it crushed my soul.”
Jamie, who took some time away from being co-conservator in 2019 while he dealt with health issues and then stepped down for good in September 2021, has stated multiple times in the past that he believed the decisions he was making were in Spears’ best interest.
The Crush of the Conservatorship
From her portioned-out medication to the settings on her iPhone, Spears writes, “Everything was scrutinized and controlled. Everything.”
Including, she alleges, her weight. “If I thought getting criticized about my body in the press was bad, it hurt even more from my own father,” she writes. “He repeatedly told me I looked fat and that I was going to have to do something about it.”
While she was notably silent about the circumstances of her life during most of the 13 years she spent in the conservatorship, Spears alleges she did try to say something…once.
“I even mentioned the conservatorship on a talk show in 2016,” she writes, “but somehow that part of the interview didn’t make it to the air. Huh. How interesting.”
Jamie Lynn Spears is opening up about her current relationship with her sister, Britney Spears.
Falling Out With Jamie Lynn Spears
During what Spears describes as her involuntary trip to rehab in early 2019—”My father said that if I didn’t go, then I’d have to go to court, and I’d be embarrassed,” she writes — she recalls being prescribed lithium and being kept there “against my will” for months.
“I couldn’t go outside,” she continues. “I couldn’t drive a car. I had to give blood weekly. I couldn’t take a bath in private. I couldn’t shut the door to my room.”
From the facility, Spears texted Jamie Lynn Spears, pleading for help, she writes. Her little sister’s response, per the book, was, “Stop fighting it. There’s nothing you can do about it, so stop fighting it.”
Spears felt betrayed, writing, “I didn’t understand how Jamie Lynn and our father had developed such a good relationship. She knew I was reaching out to her for help…I felt like she should have taken my side.”
In early 2022 the siblings publicly sparred over Jamie Lynn’s memoir, “Things I Should Have Said.“
Jamie Lynn “rushed out salacious stories about me, many of them hurtful and outrageous,” Spears reiterates in her book. But, she concludes, she loves her sis, adding, “I’m working to feel more compassion than anger toward her and toward everyone who I feel has wronged me. It’s not that easy.”
E! News has reached out to Jamie Lynn for comment. She said on E!’s Daily Pop in 2022 that she and Spears “go back and forth, but at the end of the day, the love and support will always be there.”
Her Introduction to #FreeBritney
Spears notes that it was during her 2019 rehab stay that she first saw YouTube clips, courtesy of a nurse at the facility, alerting her to the existence of the unofficial but vigilant #FreeBritney movement.
As the years went by and the public discussion around whether she still should be in a conservatorship intensified, Britney kept up with the news.
“Seeing the documentaries about me was rough,” she writes. “I understand that everyone’s heart was in the right place, but I was hurt that some old friends spoke to filmmakers without consulting me first.” She adds, “There was so much guessing about what I must have thought or felt.”
Where Britney Was When Her Conservatorship Was Terminated
When Jamie was removed as co-conservator in September 2021, “I felt relief sweep over me,” Spears recalls. “The man who had scared me as a child and ruled over me as an adult, who had done more than anyone to undermine my self-confidence, was no longer in control of my life.”
She was at a resort in Tahiti on Nov. 12, 2021, when her lawyer called to tell her a judge had terminated the conservatorship entirely.
Britney Spears has once again set the record straight after dancing with knives.
Those Naked Instagram Posts
Spears relishes being free to post whatever she wants on social media now, including the occasional strategically censored nude selfie.
“I know that a lot of people don’t understand why I love taking pictures of myself naked or in new dresses,” she explains. “But I think if they’d been photographed by other people thousands of times, prodded and posed for other people’s approval, they’d understand that I get a lot of joy from posing the way I feel sexy and taking my own picture, doing whatever I want with it.”
What Freedom Means
Spears writes that she has suffered “physical and emotional damage” from being in the conservatorship, and still gets migraines.
“I don’t think my family understands the real damage that they did,” she writes.
But she doesn’t take freedom for granted, whether that means “taking a break from Instagram without people calling 911” or “being able to make mistakes, and learning from them.”
It means “I don’t have to perform for anyone—onstage or offstage,” she writes. “Freedom means that I get to be as beautifully imperfect as everyone else. And freedom means the ability, and the right, to search for joy, in my own way, on my own terms.”