The fog your WW describes is real, but it is not. Depending on who you ask.
To commit adultery, an individual must cross a deep moral chasm. To cross that chasm, the individual must invest time and effort into building a bridge: securing ropes on both ends, etc. Lots of individual choices and actions go into crossing that chasm. In each case, each choice and act is about, at the very least, finding out what it feels like to take the first (or second or third) step towards at least creating the opportunity to get to the other side.
The process itself becomes consuming, and with each step, the idea of at least testing out the other side of the chasm becomes the driving motivator. Build a bridge. Cross it. Build a bridge. Cross it. Build a bridge. Cross it. Cheaters are fully aware of the risk they are taking with each step -- destroying their marriage. What we see, though, is that, in the mind of many cheaters, the completion of each step without being caught creates a sort of thrill, a private universe of adventure leading to the potential of reaching an exotic alternative place that seems intriguing, enticing, thrilling.
Keep in mind that there is usually a specific human AP involved, waiting on the other side. There is an active thread here where a WW decided first to cheat, set up the mechanism to do so, and then later methodically selected an AP, but that is unusual. In most cases, one catalyst for the cheating is an AP on the other side filling the WW's ears with saccharine statements and sycophantic actions, a sleazy horn dog who senses an opportunity for some NSA married pussy or oral and who has found the button to push to get the WW's attention. Usually, it involves a WW who has some degree of self-loathing or self-dislike, and the AP offers an escape from that. To that end, your WW's MS is not a typical detail, but the fact that she felt as if her life were weighted with a sense of self loathing, and that the AP and his dick was an escape, that's the oldest story in the book. Utterly cliche. Exactly the mechanism for a giant percentage of cheating, especially cheating wives.
I do think this becomes a feedback loop within the mind of many cheaters, leading them to later describe this as "the fog". Maybe by the time a strange penis enters an orifice, there have been so many choices and decisions and compromises and rationalizations that it actually does feel like a fog of sorts, a twisted alternative reality that the WW creates for herself to justify what is fundamentally unjustifiable.
That's a long way of saying that the fog is real, but it's made of bullshit. More specifically, it's a fog of bullshit of the WW's own creation, that she has surrounded her mind with.
I keep having thoughts like "She cant just get away with it" and she cant just get to use a rewind button to go back to how things were. I dont want to punish her for punishment sake, but at the same time i do. If that makes sense.
This wild vacillation of thought is normal for a BH at your stage. It is so normal it has a name: The Roller Coaster. It is normal for the roller coaster of wildly vacillating emotion to continue for at least 6 months, maybe a year or longer. You have to give yourself time to go through it.
There is a technique discussed in The Healing Library called The 180. This is not a punishment for your WW. Rather, it is a mental device, akin to meditation, that is designed to create psychological space for the BH so that you can eventually find your truth. Because that is the ultimate goal here: you finding your personal truth. Ultimately, you cannot change what your WW did, and you cannot control the outcome in terms of the impact on your marriage. You can only control you.
By the way, it's pretty normal for the roller coaster to settle eventually, leaving you primarily with a burning sense of anger. It's important that you don't bottle it up. Let it out. Rage and scream and do whatever your anger drives you to do, short (of course) of actual abuse. The anger is due to the slow realization of your reality: your WW cheated sexually with another man, and nothing you can do will change that. We men are fixers. Our instinct is to fix things. But there is no fixing this. It is what it is.
But I also have no desire right now to leave her or my kids. So i dont know what to do.
This is normal. I would point out, just for discussion, that divorcing her would not be leaving your kids. You would quite likely have at least shared custody, and possibly even more. There are millions of kids who grow up with divorced parents who do just fine in life. In some ways, these kids get the best of all worlds. A half-time parent, in my observation, spends his time away from the kids recharging his batteries: working out, socializing/dating, catching up at work. Then, when the kids are at his place, he devotes himself to them. Same with the wife's side. So their lives tend to be filled with a lot of parental attention, most of it quite positive.
[This message edited by Butforthegrace at 12:39 PM, Wednesday, August 31st]