‘I never saw my guitar again’: readers on belongings they lost in a breakup

Long after two people have gone their separate ways, some partings still rankle. Readers reflect on the beloved items they left behind

‘I retained my stick blender but forgot all its accessories’

Even though my breakup was amicable, I felt a lot of guilt – so when I moved out I said: “Keep it all.” But, in the years since, there have been a few items of kitchenware that I wish I’d held on to: a Le Creuset casserole dish, my favourite mug, a digital cooking thermometer, the plastic bowl attachment for my stick blender (the blender itself I retained at her insistence, but I forgot all the accessories that came with it). There never seemed like a good time to ask for any of it back – I hope she’s at least getting some use out of them. Anonymous, Australia

‘My ex took the coffee table – and everything on it’

When my ex and I broke up, we agreed he could take our coffee table. But when I got home, not only had he taken the table, but everything that happened to be on it, too – the coasters, a candle, etc. I’m just pleased I hadn’t left the TV remote on there, otherwise I’d be stuck watching Cash in the Attic. Hope, Guildford

‘I found him online and returned his Spurs top’

Just before he moved away, an ex-boyfriend gave me his childhood Spurs football top from the early 80s. It was the 90s, when tiny T-shirts were in vogue, and he thought I might wear it for fun. Predictably, though, it was way too small. I put it away in a drawer as a keepsake and forgot about it. Fifteen years later, when we had long broken up, I found it again. I realised it was too precious a souvenir for me to still have it, especially as I’m not even a football fan, so I found him online and returned it. He was really pleased to get it back and sent me a photo of his young son wearing it. It was a perfect fit and I felt as if everything had come full circle. Lucy, England

‘I lost out on our joint map collection’

‘I curse not having a map to hand’ ...
‘I curse not having a map to hand ...’ Photograph: Handout

When my ex-husband and I split, I lost out on our joint OS 1:50,000 map collection. He had taught me to navigate and be confident on the hills with a map and compass, and the collection represented many special adventures. Plus, they are expensive! But he’d bought more of them and I told him he should take whatever he wanted from our flat when he moved out. Now, whenever I go on an adventure (quite frequently), I curse not having the map I want to hand! Anonymous, Edinburgh

‘My ex probably packed the clothes brush in with her stuff’

My parents split up when I was five and I barely saw my father again. He cleared out all his belongings and it was like he’d never been there. One day, while playing hide and seek, I found his red plastic clothes brush and had a clear recollection of my father brushing down his work suit with it. Subsequently, I took the brush as my own and it stayed with me through multiple house moves. I didn’t lock it away, nor make a shrine out of it, but I always kept it in the laundry cupboard and just used it as a clothes brush. I never told anyone of its significance because, well, it’s a bloody plastic brush. So when my relationship of five years ended and we both moved out, my ex-partner probably packed it with her half of the stuff without even thinking about it. It’s very rare I ever need a clothes brush, but when I do I always get pangs of loss. Anonymous, Denmark

‘He must have gathered up my records along with his own’

My ex-husband, a jazz and blues musician, had a notable record collection of which he was very proud – to the extent that my handful of dog-eared but much-loved records weren’t allowed to sit on the same shelves. Mine were a mishmash of teenage records (the Cure, Danny Wilson, the Carpenters, the Beautiful South, Hue and Cry) along with others my late grandad had given me (Dolly Parton, Glenn Miller, Phil Collins, Bee Gees).

When he came to clear out his stuff, he must have gathered up my records along with his, as all the shelves were bare when I returned. I texted him to ask for my records to be returned – I couldn’t imagine he’d want them – but I never heard from him again. Nowadays, it makes me smile to think that, in a record collection somewhere far away, Dolly may be nestled in beside Dizzy or Django – proof that lives are never completely untangled. Anonymous, Lewes

‘He said he loved the book I’d lent him – then ghosted me’

Ali Smith's Autumn
‘Reminds me of the ghost ...’ Photograph: PR Handout

I lent my precious signed first edition of Ali Smith’s Autumn to a man I was dating, who told me he loved the book – and then ghosted me. I still have the other books in Smith’s Seasons quartet on my bookshelf, and I’m reminded of the ghost every time I look at them. Charlotte, London

‘I lost the original Star Wars trilogy on VHS’

In 1998, I lost the silver box set of the original Star Wars trilogy on VHS in a breakup. It was the widescreen version, without the stupid special effects, and at the time I was decidedly annoyed with myself. But, with the arrival of DVDs, I began to live with the situation. Anonymous, Birmingham

‘When I asked for my T-shirt back, she said she had tossed it’

In the late 70s/early 80s, I had a Clash T-shirt (I was a big fan) that I wore to many punk shows. The collar was ripped and it had only one sleeve left intact; it was beautiful! When my partner at the time and I broke up, I left it behind. When I asked for it back, she said she had tossed it (it was, indeed, not much more than a rag at that point, but a precious rag). I had always worn it as a badge of honour and fun – I still miss that shirt! Jim, Chicago

‘My ex was amenable to me reclaiming the buddha statue’

Alastair’s dog – and his reclaimed buddha statue.
Alastair’s dog – and his reclaimed buddha statue. Photograph: Alastair

When my divorce was finalised in 2014, I had one final day to pick over the family possessions, after which anything remaining in her garage would be hers. But after three hours of looking through the pile of things, I felt weak; three days later, I was hospitalised with acute pancreatitis. But never, until recently, did I regret cutting short the retrieval.

Two weeks ago, for no reason I can fathom, I recalled my 21st birthday in 1986 when my brother gave me a little buddha statue, for luck. But where is he now? I asked my now-wife, but she knew of no such buddha. I asked one of my daughters, now 20, and she said she knew it well – in her mother’s, my ex’s, home. My ex was amenable to me reclaiming the buddha, so last week when I dropped my daughter at her house, my daughter brought him out. He’s now happily seated in the bedroom at home and my now-wife rubs his belly every day. Alastair, Brentford

‘He disappeared and I never saw my guitar again’

In my late teens, I played in a band and I met a guy who was a bit older than me, very good-looking. He took my guitar off me and played it – and he was amazing! He didn’t have his own guitar, so I loaned him mine – it was the same one I’d had since I was about 13, so although it was cheap it had sentimental value. He had a Steely Dan songbook I wanted a look at, so he loaned me that. Months went by, then suddenly he disappeared and I never saw my guitar again. I still have his Steely Dan songbook, although I sometimes wonder whether he had filched that off someone else. Anonymous, Edinburgh

‘I left it too long to ask for my annotated piano music back’

Piano with sheet music
‘Even if I were to buy the piano music again, it won’t be the same ...’ Photograph: EyeEm/Alamy

I left about half of my piano music, collected over the course of a decade and marked with annotations on phrasing and dynamics from my teachers, at the home of my ex-boyfriend before we broke up. Because it had been a long-distance relationship, ended via telephone, I never returned to collect it. It included a set of Debussy duets for four hands that I’d thought we might learn to play together, but we never did. He sent other belongings back to me (books, a jumper, a couple of scarves, a hairbrush), but I left it too long to ask for the music. I still have his best saucepan and, quite by accident, the “wrong” copy of a book that we both owned. Even if I were to buy the piano music again, it won’t be the same as playing from the copies I bought with my pocket money as a teenager (but at least I have gained a very good saucepan). Anonymous, Edinburgh

‘I lent my new jumper to a girl I was seeing after a night out’

One Christmas, when I was studying at the University of Hull, my parents bought me a very nice and quite expensive Gant jumper. It was the warmest thing I owned and fitted me perfectly. I lent it to the girl I was seeing after a night out and, after I left Hull and we broke up, I never saw the jumper again. I hope the jumper had a good life after my brief time with it. Tim, Wembley


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