Dear Britney,

Hi! How are you? Say, I was thinking: If you can possibly afford to, you should get out of show business now. I saw your performance on last night's MTV Music Video Awards. It wasn't ... your most electrifying performance ever. But you know that. Not like our beloved media is about to let you forget it until ... well, until you do something else they can start ripping into your flesh about.

Which brings me back to Point A: Get out. You know something few people ever have a chance to learn: Fame -- real fame, on the order you experience fame -- is hell.

And as everyone knows, hell is a very bad place to be. And that's why you should leave it.

It's possible that, like every single other person in anything near your position, you have extremely mixed feelings about fame. On the one hand, you're adored and loved by millions the world over. How fun! On the other hand ... well, you, above all right now, know more about the "other hand" than anyone should ever need to.

So right around now you might be feeling particularly ... stuck.

Love idea of fame; hate actually being famous. That's the ... celebrity conundrum.

But look who I'm telling!

And it's not like you don't have raw, rare talent. What a dancer you are! What physical prowess you possess! It'd be weird for you to have the natural gifts you do and not be famous.

So there's no question but that you "deserve" your fame. Like anyone who's achieved and sustained your level of renown, you've got the goods.

If I may presume, though, here's the problem: The reason you're loved by people who don't know you is because you're such a fantastic performer; because of how pretty you are; because of how readily you absorb and reflect back to them their highest (or at least most exciting) hopes and dreams for themselves. Right? That's ... the game you're in. That's what you do. That's the nature of your celebrity.

And that's guaranteed to be what it's clearly turned out to be for you: Hell. It's horrible. And do you know why it's horrible? Do you know why you now feel so desperately lost?

Because it's a terrible thing to be loved not for who you are, but for what you do.

That's just ... the worst possible thing.

None of your adoring throngs love you for you. They don't even know you. What they love is the way you make them feel about themselves. That they'll pay good money to experience. But that's not love. That's ... emotionally immature narcissism.

Listen: You're not breaking down because you're a loser. You're breaking down because you're a human. And humans must be loved for who they are.

Your performance at the MTV Shallow-a-Thon was the sweetest kind of display. All it really showed is that you don't want to be a "star" anymore, that you don't want people to go, "Oooo! She's back! She was dynamite! She's still got it!"

Because you know that then you'd have to ... have it, again.

And all the evidence suggests that, whether you yet know it or not, you have had it with having it.

Get out. To heck with ‘em. You're not their toy. You're not their moving poster. And you sure as heck don't need to be their attack fodder.

You're a mother now. Take that seriously. Drop off the radar for awhile. In your entire life so far you've not yet had a chance to naturally discover -- let alone naturally become -- who you really are. Do it now. Take some real time to do it, too. Getting yourself together -- discovering and then centering yourself in the part of you that could give a rat's backside for whether you're famous or not -- isn't something you do over two weeks at E!'s Celebrity Self-Esteem Camp, or wherever. It's not a dalliance. It's what you were born to do. It's what every human must do if they're not going to get swallowed up in their own awful, deeply tweaking confusion about the difference between being loved for who they really are, and being loved because of what they represent to whomever's then "loving" them.

Like everyone else, Britney, you want to be loved even if you're fat and clumsy and shameless and stupid.

Your performance last night wasn't sad. It was beautiful. It showed how in touch you still are with the unadorned humanness inside you.

Listen: Go be alone for awhile. Turn inwards, and find yourself. Find the little girl you were before all the ugly nonsense of show-business started spinning you every which way. Find the wise, solid little kid you had to leave behind in order to go make your way in the world, the clear-eyed, honest girl who, for one, can still smell a liar and a creep coming from half a mile away, and who still knows the difference between healthy and right, and poisonous and wrong.

Go into your soul, and find there the little girl you were -- the little girl who has always been pleased to patiently and lovingly await your return.

Be with that kid for awhile. Hug her. Kiss her. Apologize for being so long getting back to her. Share with her everything you've gone and are going through.

Spend some real time with her. Get to know her again. Bring her back out into your life. Bring her back out to play.

And then you'll know yourself. Then you'll be okay. Then the two of you, holding hands together, can look back out at the world, and see what real place you and your children might have in it.

And once you've done that -- or before, or at anywhere along the line, or now -- see what you think about the idea that throughout your life someone has always connected to, nourished, and protected everything in you that's best and most precious. See if you don't think that someone is God.

Comment below, or here.