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Lech Walesa's wife publishes candid autobiography

Former Polish President Lech Walesa and his wife Danuta attend a ceremony on November 21, 2011 in Warsaw. Getty Images

(CBS/AP) The wife of former Polish Solidarity leader Lech Walesa details the huge price she paid for her husband's struggle against communism in a new autobiography out this week.

Danuta Walesa talks publicly for the first time about her loneliness and fear for the family's unity as her husband gained worldwide recognition.

Danuta was Poland's first lady from 1990 to 1995 when Lech Walesa served as the country's first democratically elected president.

In the candid 550-page book, "Dreams and Secrets," the 62-year-old reveals that she felt neglected as she raised their eight children. She expresses hurt that she was excluded from her husband's strategic decisions that gave rise to Solidarity and the trade union's toppling of Poland's authoritarian communist system in 1989.

Some revelations from the book, which is due out in Poland on Wednesday, have appeared in the Polish media in recent days, shattering a view of a former president and first lady long seen as happy and deeply united, not least because of their shared Roman Catholic faith.

"There was no formal divorce, but there were two separate worlds in our family," Walesa writes in the book, made available to The Associated Press by publisher Wydawnictwo Literackie.

She says family life was generally peaceful in the early years of their 42-year marriage. But things took a turn for the worse when her husband rose to prominence during historic strikes in August 1980, when workers demanded greater freedoms.

"In August everything was smashed," she writes. "Our nest was torn apart."

Danuta Walesa recalls how, on Aug. 14, 1980, her husband left home promising to register the birth of their sixth child, two-week-old Ania, at the city hall in Gdansk.

Instead he headed straight to the shipyard. Hours later she learned that her husband had become the strike's leader.

"When Solidarity was born, not immediately, but in a short time, the father and the husband was gone," she writes. "And later, in the 1980s, with that bloody politics, he was less and less involved at home, with the children, with me, with the family."

Jealousy also came into play. She complains that her husband used the same term of affection -- "little frog"-- with other women, just as with her.

After Walesa served his single term as president, he has kept busy traveling the world giving lectures on his unique role in Poland's history, though they still live together in a house in Gdansk and celebrate his birthday together every year with a crowd of visitors. He now devotes a lot of time to his love of computers.

"Some eight or 10 years ago ... my husband traded me in for a computer, which he sometimes admits himself," Danuta writes in the book.

Lech Walesa insists that he always loved his wife, though he admits "it is not the same as it was" early on.

"My wife has told no lies, but you have to put everything into context ... separate private from public," he told the Polish edition of Newsweek. "In politics, when I was tapped, when I had to make speedy decisions on my own, I had no time for consultations, even with my wife."

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