Kellie Pickler Explains CMA Breakdown

The former "Idol" cried as she sang a ballad about her estranged mother.

Nov. 9, 2007 — -- Kellie Pickler's emotional performance at the Country Music Awards Wednesday night was a showstopper.

The former "American Idol" contestant sang the ballad "I Wonder," which she wrote about the mother who abandoned her.

The lyrics send a deeply personal message to her mother, Cynthia Morton, who left the family when Pickler was 2 years old.

"Forgiveness is such a simple word, but it's so hard to do when you've been hurt," Pickler sang at the CMAs, and began to cry.

As she continued to sing, with her younger brother Eric tearfully looking on, Pickler became increasingly emotional.

Pickler has said the song has helped her deal with her anger and emotions.

"The song has not only really helped me, because writing it and performing it every night has been kind of like therapy for me, but I think it's really helped a lot of other people that might be going through similar circumstances," she said.

Two Sides of the Story

Prior to the CMAs both Pickler and her mother, who is remarried and goes by the name Cynthia Malone, spoke out separately to an ABC News affiliate station in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., about the circumstances regarding their heartbreaking relationship.

Malone left Pickler to be raised by her grandparents, but she insists that she was driven away by an abusive relationship with Kellie's dad, Clyde Pickler.

"I did what was in the best interest of her, Miss Kellie," Malone told ABC 11 Eyewitness News. "The beatings came more frequent, and I knew I was gonna lose my life if I didn't leave, and I didn't know how to leave. So I packed up one day and I left. I left her with her grandparents."

Pickler fired back at her mother, saying, "I don't know why you want anything to do with me now. You never wanted anything to do with me my whole life."

Malone said she prays for a reconciliation with her daughter someday, but right now Pickler, who hasn't seen her mother in more than 10 years, said she is too hurt to consider that possibility.

"I'm not mad, I'm not upset. I'm just hurt because she continues to make herself look like the victim," Pickler said.

Malone, who lives in North Carolina and lectures others about the dangers of domestic violence, said she wanted to take Kellie with her but was stopped by Clyde Pickler.

"I tried one time and he ran my car off the road," she said. "If I could go back into time with the tools that I had today I would have done things a heck of a lot different. But I can't."

While Pickler is not ready to forgive and forget, she has found a way to channel her pain by working with the AARP Grandparenting Foundations, which helps grandparents who raise their grandchildren.

And of course, she also channels her feelings through her music.

"You weren't there to braid my hair, like the others do," Pickler sings in "I Wonder." "You weren't around to cheer me on, help me dress for my high school prom, like mothers do."