Teresa's cast photo from The Real Housewives of New Jersey

To say it’s been a difficult few years for Teresa Giudice would be an understatement. Since being released from federal prison in December of 2015 after serving an 11-month sentence, Teresa has hit the ground running trying to piece her life back together.

Slice talked to the 45-year-old mother of four to get the scoop on everything from the tragic challenges she’s faced in her personal life this year, to reuniting on screen with one of her former enemies from The Real Housewives of New Jersey.

Now that she’s tasked with being the sole supporter for her four daughters, Teresa has no choice but to roll up her sleeves and get to work. “I’m working on developing my empire. From all the legal stuff, everything got knocked down, so now I have to rebuild everything. So I’m working on that baby, I’m working on it.”

In addition to her busy filming schedule on The Real Housewives of New Jersey, Teresa released a hit memoir in 2016, Turning the Tables, and the follow up, Standing Strong, just recently hit retailers in October and is bound to be another success. When asked if it’s time for her to finally slow down and relax the star responds, “life’s too hectic right now – I can’t wait for that to happen!”

With her very public legal battles, and dealing with her husband going away to prison, nothing compares to the heavy blow Teresa was dealt while filming this season. “It started off with me losing my mom,” she says. “It was one of the hardest seasons ever, but the girls really helped me get through it. I didn’t even want to film, but they kept my mind busy and they kept me going, so I’m thankful for that.”

Hardships aside, there’s still a lot for fans to be excited about this year on The Real Housewives of New Jersey, including new Housewife Margaret Josephs. “We [all] have a rich history together, and I think that Margaret is a great add to the show,” Teresa says.

As one of the biggest stars to come out of the Real Housewives franchise, Teresa admits to feeling responsibility towards new Housewives who enter the group. “Sometimes I do [give them advice]. If I feel like they need a little help, then you know, I put my two cents into it – which I did this season. And let me tell you, it’s going to be a great season.”

No doubt one of the most exciting things about season eight is the return of RHONJ-OG, Danielle Staub. As the woman who inspired Teresa’s seminal table flip, it’s hard to imagine that the two are now on good terms.

“I feel like Danielle never got a fair chance before – like me and her never really got to know each other,” Teresa says “She had people in her ear, and I had people in my ear. So I think it’s going to be great for [fans] to see how that plays out.”

It was actually Teresa who orchestrated Danielle’s return to the show. “I just contacted her and we did yoga together, and that was it. I think Bravo was shocked that I would ever reach out to her…we had words and I wanted her to know that I never had any ill feelings towards her and that’s why I met with her. And I told her that. And it all happened from there.”

Not everyone is thrilled with Danielle’s return though. As we’ve already seen, Danielle and fellow Housewife Dolores Catania get into a huge argument, leaving Teresa to choose between a longtime-friend and her once-enemy. “It’s pretty hard [to be in the middle of them]. I have to decide who I believe, and you’ll see that play out.”

Teresa and her sister-in-law Melissa Gorga are also finding themselves on rocky territory this season thanks to Joe Gorga’s surprise purchase of a restaurant, Gorga’s Homemade Pasta. But don’t worry, Teresa is positive they won’t return to where their relationship used to be.

“We’re good. [With] me and Melissa, it’s just fun stuff, you know what I mean? I don’t ever want it to go to that dark place ever again. I’m not about tearing family down. You’re supposed to be with your family and support each other. You should be able to say whatever you want to your family, and they should know it’s coming from a good place.”

Family drama is another setback Teresa can credit to her appearing on The Real Housewives of New Jersey, so when asked if she regrets joining the franchise, her answer doesn’t come as a surprise. “Yeah. I mean, hello, I went away because I’m on TV. If I wasn’t on TV I would’ve never went away – I know that.”

“I was portrayed so poorly in the press that the judge was saying things… [Like] they think they know you. Because we’re on the show, people think they know you but they don’t.”

While it’s hard not to be bitter about what transpired in the past, Teresa has confidence that it’s changed her for the better. “Did I need to go away to figure that out? No I didn’t. But I’m fine with it, I did what I had to do, and now I’ve moved on. This whole journey, I am the person that I am [because of that]… I’m like a fine wine, I just get better with age.”

You can watch Teresa Giudice on The Real Housewives of New Jersey Wednesdays at 9 e/p on Slice.