Following a stint in rehab about a year ago, the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star, 48, tells PEOPLE, "It hasn't been easy, but my whole life today is amazing, and I owe it all to my sobriety."RELATED: Kim Richards Nose Job Plastic Surgery Surprises Sister
Part of what has contributed to her new outlook is her newly mended relationship with her sister, Kyle.
"When I came home from treatment, I thought it was going to be great," Kim says. "I just didn’t expect the response I wasn't getting from Kyle. You'll see [this season], my sister and I have these moments, these bonding moments. And then they go away and then you see more. It's so up and down the whole season for Kyle and I. And then Kyle and I really were able to put it together this Christmas."
Adds the reality star, "I haven't had a drink since – it was a year in December. I feel so strong, determined, healthy and happy. I have a great relationship with my children [and] with both of my sisters."
Thanks to her role on Housewives, Richards's progress has been acknowledged by more than just her family.
"You have no idea how many people out there have said, 'You have saved me. Because of you, I have 30 days [of sobriety],' " she says. "I cry. It makes me smile. It makes me cry-smile. I smile-cry. It's so rewarding."