Former Polish first lady Danuta Walesa felt isolated, left to raise children alone(Read article summary)
Walesa says in her new memoir that husband Lech Walesa is "difficult to get to know" and that during his political ascendancy, she was "a mother, a teacher, a cook, a cleaning lady, a nurse."
Danuta Walesa, the wife of former president and Polish Solidarity leader Lech Walesa, says she felt isolated and faced overwhelming domestic work as her husband rose to power, according to her memoir which was released in Poland last week.
Lech Walesa, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983, was lauded by the international community when his political movement was at the forefront of the charge to defeat Communism in Poland. He became the country's first democratically elected president.
Danuta Walesa, who had eight children with her husband, says in her new biography â€śDreams and Secretsâ€ť that she was responsible for all the housework and childcare, even when she was pregnant.
â€śI was a mother, a teacher, a cook, a cleaning lady, a nurse,â€ť writes Walesa, who was the countryâ€™s first lady from 1990 to 1995. â€śI had no time to do anything else.â€ť
She says the familyâ€™s apartment constantly had visitors going in and out, which was overwhelming.
â€śWe had crowds of labor union members, advisers, politicians, journalists and lunatics pouring into our apartment from dawn until late at night,â€ť writes Walesa. â€śComplete chaos instead of a normal home.â€ť
When asked in a TV interview why she is revealing her experiences now, Walesa said that â€śthere comes a time when you have to disclose things, and that is why I have done so.â€ť She said she has â€śnot revealed all her secrets.â€ť She said her husband was aware that she was writing her book, but he â€śnever quite believed that I would actually do it.â€ťÂ
Lech Walesa told Polandâ€™s Newsweek magazine that he hadnâ€™t read the book, but that he was going to give his wife flowers.
â€śMy wife has told no lies, but you have to put everything into context ... separate private from public,â€ť Walesa, who has stated previously that he neglected his family, said. â€śIn politics â€¦ when I had to make speedy decisions on my own, I had no time for consultations, even with my wife.â€ť
But the former president told the Polish Press Agency that he will probably read the book in the future.
â€śThere are a couple of things that I would like to understand that I hadn't paid attention to before,â€ť he said.Â
In her book, Danuta Walesa said her husband is â€śa lonerâ€ť who is â€śintroverted and difficult to get to know.â€ť She said she found the pressure put on her and her daily duties overwhelming.
â€śMy initial powerlessness turned into a rebellion,â€ť she writes. â€śThis opposition grew in me until I exploded. Psychologically, I simply could not take this burden anymore.â€ť
The former first lady states in the book that she and her husband now live mostly separately.
But at the end of the book, Walesa says she is grateful for what her life has brought her.
â€ś[It is a life that I] could not have imagined in my wildest dreams,â€ť she writes.
Molly Driscoll is a Monitor contributor.