Britney Spears Speaks at Hearing, Asks to End Conservatorship: 'I Just Want My Life Back'
In a rare appearance, Spears virtually addressed the court Wednesday, saying, "I've lied and told the whole world I'm OK and I'm happy. It's a lie. I've been in denial"
Britney Spears is making her voice heard.
On Wednesday afternoon, Spears appeared before a Los Angeles court and Judge Brenda Penny to speak about the effects of her conservatorship and why she believes her father Jamie Spears should not be conservator of her estate.
Spears began her nearly 30-minute statement with, "I have a lot to say, so bear with me. I don't think I was heard on any level when I came to court last time." Speaking about her prior music and tour commitments, Spears said she "is not here to be anyone's slave."
Speaking rapidly, Spears then addressed her recent social media posts, admitting, "I've lied and told the whole world I'm OK and I'm happy. It's a lie. I've been in denial. I've been in shock. I am traumatized. Fake it 'til you make it, but now I'm telling you the truth, OK? I'm not happy. I can't sleep. I'm depressed. I cry every day."
Shortly thereafter, Spears, 39, asked to end the 13-year conservatorship.
"I didn't know I could petition the conservatorship to end. I honestly didn't know that. I've done more than enough. I don't owe these people anything. I've roofed and clothed and fed people on the road. It's demoralizing what I've been through. I've never said it openly - I never thought anyone would believe me. I'm not lying. I just want my life back. It's been 13 years and it's been enough. I want to be able to be heard. I've kept this in for so long - it's not good for my heart. I've been so angry and I cry every day. For my sanity ... I need to get it off my heart. The anger, all of it. The main reason why I'm here today is I want to end the conservatorship without being evaluated."
Spears continued to list reasons why she feels the conservatorship should be lifted. "I deserve privacy. I don't feel like I can live a full life. They're making me feel like I live in a rehab program. I do need a little therapy," she said, laughing. "I want to progressively move forward ... I want to get married and have a baby. This conservatorship is doing me way more harm than good. I deserve to have a life! I've worked my whole life. I feel ganged up on and I feel bullied and I feel left out and alone. I'm tired of feeling alone."
The hearing then took a 20-minute recess before returning. Jamie's attorney Vivian Lee Thoreen addressed the court to share a statement from her client, saying, "[Jamie] is sorry to see his daughter in so much pain. [He] loves his daughter and misses her very much."
Before Spears spoke, her lawyer Samuel Ingham III addressed the court, saying, "This is a special status hearing that was set at the request of my client. As I understand it, the only item on the agenda apart from whatever questions the court would like to ask is the opportunity for my client to address the court. The ground rules here I believe are very simple. It's an open-ended hearing. My client is free to discuss any aspect of the conservatorship that she wishes and is welcome to say whatever she likes for the record. I would like to state I have not in any way attempted to control, filter or edit anything she has to say today."
When conservator Jodi Montgomery's attorney asked that transcripts discussing Spears' medical history be sealed, the singer interjected, "They've done a pretty good job of exploiting my life. I feel like it should be an open court hearing. They should listen and hear what I have to say."
Lawyers for Spears' parents Jamie, 68, and Lynne, 66, appeared virtually, along with the two themselves. Ahead of the hearing, Britney's boyfriend Sam Asghari - who told PEOPLE earlier this year he is "looking forward to a normal, amazing future together" - shared a selfie on Instagram wearing a white shirt with the words "Free Britney."
Britney's Friday appearance is the first hearing since Britney's attorney Ingham asked the court to appoint Jodi Montgomery as permanent conservator instead of her father Jamie, as they "requested the resignation" of her father.
At the time, Britney reserved "the right to petition for the termination of this conservatorship." In a statement to PEOPLE earlier this year, Thoreen, Jamie's attorney, said that Spears could file a petition to terminate her conservatorship but never has.
"Any time Britney wants to end her conservatorship, she can ask her lawyer to file a petition to terminate it; she has always had this right but in 13 years has never exercised it," Thoreen told PEOPLE at the time. "Britney knows that her Daddy loves her, and that he will be there for her whenever and if she needs him, just as he always has been - conservatorship or not."
Listen below to our daily podcast PEOPLE Every Day for more on Britney Spears speaking out about her conservatorship starting at the 3:45 mark.
The new hearing comes a day after The New York Times published a report citing sealed court documents and transcripts from 2016 between Britney and a probate investigator that provide a "snapshot" of Spears' "sentiments and situation."
"She articulated she feels the conservatorship has become an oppressive and controlling tool against her," a court investigator wrote in 2016, adding that Spears reportedly believed the legal system had "too much control."
RELATED VIDEO: Britney Spears' Lawyer Asks Court to Appoint Jodi Montgomery as Her Permanent Conservator
"She is 'sick of being taken advantage of' and she said she is the one working and earning her money but everyone around her is on her payroll," the investigator added then.
Spears also said that her father was "obsessed" with her and wanted to control everything about her life, according to the Times. The singer alleged she was unable to make friends, was limited to a $2,000 weekly allowance and was not allowed to spend her own money to make cosmetic changes to her home without her father's permission, the Times reported. (That same year, she met her boyfriend Asghari on the set of her "Slumber Party" music video.)
Britney's 2016 sentiments echo what her lawyer told a judge during a November 2020 court hearing that Spears was "afraid of her father" when the judge declined Britney's request to make Montgomery her permanent conservator.
"She will not perform again if her father is in charge of her career," he said at the time. (Thoreen, one of Jamie's attorneys, refuted the claim as hearsay.)
The Times also reported that the probate investigator - which is tasked with providing unbiased information the court judge - concluded that the conservatorship was necessary "based on her complex finances, susceptibility to undue influence and 'intermittent' drug issues" after speaking with Britney, her doctors and her conservators as well.
In recent social media posts, Spears has appeared light-hearted, telling fans who've asked if she's okay that, "I'm totally fine. I'm extremely happy, I have a beautiful home, beautiful children. I'm taking a break right now because I'm enjoying myself."
Posting to Instagram again last week, Spears addressed whether she'll "take the stage again."
"I have no idea," she said. "I'm having fun right now. I'm in a transition in my life and I'm enjoying myself, so that's it."